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In the News: Blue Shield of California and Cogitativo Featured in Fortune

Magazine profiles Blue Shield's partnership with Cogitativo, which is developing tools in the fight against COVID-19

Fortune magazine profiled Blue Shield of California's work with Cogitativo, a machine-learning technology company. Cogitativo is crunching data to get the COVID-19 vaccine to those who need it first.

Machine learning leverages all the data available and can detect important hidden patterns that will otherwise go unnoticed—and alert us to the heightened needs of people who might otherwise slip through the cracks. I saw this firsthand in a recent project involving my data science company, Cogitativo, and the insurer Blue Shield of California. In the early days of the pandemic, Blue Shield of California stepped up and sought to provide personalized health counseling and support services to its most COVID-vulnerable members. The insurer engaged us to identify those vulnerable members. 

Cogitativo built a machine learning platform that brings together factors about an individual's health history (in particular, whether the individual has a specific high-risk underlying condition) combined with social, environmental conditions and the most up-to-date medical literature on COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. These factors predict the risk of having adverse health outcomes from COVID-19 infection.

Many of the findings were surprising. For example, the risk-scoring tool found that individuals who did not live within a close-enough vicinity to a grocery store were at an increased risk of ending up in the hospital, on a ventilator, or even dying from COVID-19. Another finding was that individuals who had experienced severe mental-health issues were at greater risk. Based on these and other insights, Blue Shield of California provided various services to its members, including free meal delivery, medication delivery, telemedicine, and in-home clinical visits.

The lesson from our project in California was clear: Relying solely on age or making judgment calls about whether employees in a particular industry are at greater risk will result in vulnerable populations being overlooked and put at unnecessary risk or worse. 

Read the full story here.