CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield has teamed up with Myriad Genetics to evaluate a multibiomarker rheumatoid arthritis blood test. The 18-month study will assess whether Vectra DA delivers better outcomes and lower costs than conventional approaches.
Not-for-profit healthcare firm CareFirst is tasking about 40 rheumatologists in its network with testing the device. The hope is that Vectra DA will improve health and economic outcomes by predicting who is at risk of radiographic progression and, in doing so, enable the rheumatologists to optimize treatment decisions.
Vectra DA provides doctors with a single score based on the concentrations of 12 serum proteins. CareFirst thinks this may provide a more objective way of assessing the disease.
“Historically, disease activity measures were subjective or not reproducible and as a consequence inconsistently used to guide treatment decisions for RA patients,” CareFirst VP Daniel Winn, M.D., said in a statement. “Given the emerging evidence for Vectra DA, we are excited to work with Myriad and evaluate the benefits of the Vectra DA test for our physicians and members.”
Myriad has already generated clinical data to support the use of its test. The new study will allow CareFirst to evaluate the test in real-world settings within its network—giving some of its members early access to the diagnostic—before deciding whether the data support wider reimbursement and use of Vectra DA.
News of the alliance comes months after CareFirst signed a similar pact with Exosome Diagnostics, the first under its HealthWorx program. CareFirst designed the scheme to cut the time it takes for diagnostics to clear the assessment and coverage determination process. While large companies can ride out this gap, the delay in gaining health insurer coverage puts a strain on small developers of diagnostics.
Exosome and Myriad’s interest in the program suggests CareFirst has convinced some companies it can help address this long-standing pain point. In the case of Myriad, the longer-term consequences of the agreement will start to become clearer when the 18-month trial is complete.