Cigna enters app curation, data sharing with GoYou

By Jonah Comstock
Share
cigna launch David Vinson and Joan Kennedy.

In May, Cigna’s Director of IT Strategy and Innovation Willis Gee told MobiHealthNews that the next move for the insurer would be to look for ways to integrate tracking devices, social networks, and other digital tools into a single engagement strategy. Now Cigna has unveiled a part of that strategy: an app curation platform called the GoYou Cigna Marketplace, created in partnership with Las Vegas-based SocialWellth.

"We could build a Cigna app for how to pay your medical bills, choose your doctor, pick a health plan," said Joan Kennedy, VP of consumer health engagement at Cigna at the launch event at Health 2.0. "But, strategically, we decided what we really want to do is capitalize on and harness the 40,000 apps that are already out there, but help consumers understand what are really the best apps."

GoYou will be an online and mobile platform that Cigna customers can sign into via their MyCigna or Facebook account. From there they will be able to download apps recommended to them based on their Cigna profile, some of which will be marked with an "mWellth certification." Users can also rate apps and share them with friends on the network. Finally, the apps on the system will integrate through open APIs, allowing them to share data with GoYou, which will also include a points-based incentive program.

"Several years back, another [app curation] system had a charge for app providers," David Vinson, CEO of SocialWellth, said. "In this model, the cost to integrate is zero. It's more of a commitment to sharing the data and gaining access to a community of thousands of consumers. We believe the way to removing the barriers is an ecosystem framework, bringing users back to a centralized home base."

The marketplace will include not only health-related apps, but other apps for lifestyle management like Mint, which helps users manage their money. The list of initial app partners announced at Health 2.0 is: Gratitude Journal 365, Fitness Buddy, paceDJ, Everest, HealthTap, Lift, Fitocracy, GymPact, myCigna, The Habit Factor, Fooducate, Mint, Mango Health, Sleeptime, CharityMiles, RunKeeper, and MyFitnessPal.

The curation process will include experts like behavioral scientists as well as consumer feedback. It will be tiered: apps will have to pass a snapshot evaluation to be included at all, and can then have certification levels 1, 2, or 3. Currently, nothing has certification beyond level 1, since levels 2 and 3 involve evaluating the app's performance over longer periods of time. Areas evaluators look at are privacy and security, health content, technology and interoperability, consumer engagement, behavior science, and data and data transfers.

On the surface, this move looks like a bid to compete with fellow insurer Aetna, whose CarePass platform integrates a number of health apps with shared data. However, Cigna's platform looks to be more selective than Carepass, and includes a more robust curation aspect. Also notably, CarePass is open to anyone, whereas Cigna's GoYou marketplace is being launched for Cigna customers only.

An app-curation platform is an often-called for mobile health asset -- just recently PwC's Will Falk suggested the need for an "app formulary" -- but past attempts have come up short. For instance, Happtique appears to have more or less abandoned their consumer app curation platform. However, many others are attempting it, including Jiff and HealthTap.