Aetna launches SMS service for diabetes management

By Brian Dolan
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Aetna Student Health Calorie Tracker BlackBerry

Another mobile offering: Aetna's student health calorie tracker

This week health plan Aetna announced the launch of a text-based (SMS) service for members with diabetes to help them better manage their condition. Those Aetna members who opt to participate in the program will receive educational texts, SMS reminders about screenings and tests, meds, and tips. Initially only Aetna members who have Aetna medical, pharmacy and disease management benefits will be able to enroll the program, which includes texts for a three-month period. Aetna partnered with Silverlink Communications to develop the diabetes texting program.

“Managing a chronic condition like diabetes has to fit in and keep pace with today’s increasingly busy lifestyles,” Kyra Bobinet, M.D., MPH, medical director of health and wellness innovation for Aetna stated in the press release. “Statistics show that two-thirds of Americans use text messaging on a daily basis. Texting reaches people in ways that are even more convenient and easy for them. Tools and information that can help members make better informed decisions about their health care will be delivered to their fingertips anywhere they go.”

Aetna’s Medicaid plan in Delaware (Delaware Physicians Care) first began using health-related texting back in 2006.

We first mentioned Aetna's mobile app plans in June 2009 when the health plan explained its ultimate goal for health info "on-the-go." Later that year in August 2009 Aetna noted the opportunity to connect health apps to its PHR offering. Aetna's mobile strategy seemed to really come together in March 2010, however, when it announced a broad range of mobile health services including SMS, apps and mobile optimized websites.

For more on Aetna's latest SMS service launch, read the press release below:

Aetna Texting Program to Help Members Better Manage Diabetes

Voluntary Program Gives Members On the Go Information, Resources and Reminders

HARTFORD, Conn.-- Aetna (NYSE: AET) today announced the launch of a special texting program to help members who have been diagnosed with diabetes more easily and successfully control their condition and avoid complications. Members who agree to participate in the program will receive educational text messages and reminders about diabetes screenings and tests, medications, tips on healthy eating and exercising and general health information.

“Managing a chronic condition like diabetes has to fit in and keep pace with today’s increasingly busy lifestyles,” said Kyra Bobinet, M.D., MPH, medical director of health and wellness innovation for Aetna. “Statistics show that two-thirds of Americans use text messaging on a daily basis. Texting reaches people in ways that are even more convenient and easy for them. Tools and information that can help members make better informed decisions about their health care will be delivered to their fingertips anywhere they go.”

The diabetes texting program is available initially to a limited number of members who have Aetna medical, pharmacy and disease management benefits. Members who sign-up will receive short text-based messages on their mobile devices over a three-month period. Members will be evaluated on how well they follow four best-practice measures of diabetes management:

Receive regular A1C screenings which measures blood glucose levels

Receive an annual LDL screening which shows the level of bad cholesterol and cardiovascular risk

Follow instructions for taking medications

Enroll in a disease management, nurse and health coaching program

Aetna has a variety of programs in place to help people with chronic conditions, like diabetes. Aetna’s full suite of health and wellness programs as well as mobile technologies that include iPhone, Android and Blackberry apps help members make immediate, informed health care decisions. Aetna teamed up with Silverlink Communications to launch the diabetes texting program. Aetna’s Medicaid plan in Delaware (Delaware Physicians Care) pioneered the use of health-related texting, successfully using it since 2006. Aetna Medicaid currently offers a texting program to diabetic members that provides health information and reminds members to have routine blood testing.

About Aetna

Aetna is one of the nation’s leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving approximately 33.8 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental, behavioral health, group life and disability plans, and medical management capabilities and health care management services for Medicaid plans. Our customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates. For more information, see www.aetna.com. To learn more about Aetna’s innovative online tools, visit www.aetnatools.com.