What’s the ROI for innovation? Highmark talks about teledermatology, new businesses

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What are payers, providers, and pharmaceuticals companies doing to encourage innovation? And what kind of return are they seeing on their investment? Western Pennsylvania-based insurer Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield talked about its strategy, including its expansion into teledermatology and its plan to launch two companies next year. It was part of a panel discussion at the Converge conference on how big companies can innovate.

Paul Puopolo, Highmark’s vice president of innovation, said one of the companies would focus on supporting aging in place and the other will help people manage sleep. They’ll be run internally for one year as as two distinct service models and then it will decide if it will accelerate their development.

“We’ll run them for a year, starting in February. If they work and they’re financially viable and accelerate their development either through spinouts or run them as diversified businesses.”


Highmark began working with DermatologistOnCall in January. It has five dermatologists on the platform. The idea is that the initial consult would take place remotely, allowing more time for more serious cases to be treated in the office. The goal is to help dermatologists manage their businesses more efficiently.

Prior to joining Highmark, Puopolo worked as the head of consumer innovation for Humana.


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Stephanie Baum

By Stephanie Baum

Stephanie Baum is the East Coast Innovation Reporter for MedCityNews.com. She enjoys covering healthcare startups across health IT, drug development and medical devices and innovations deployed to improve medical care. She graduated from Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania and has worked across radio, print and video. She's written for The Christian Science Monitor, Dow Jones & Co. and United Business Media.
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