Aetna to shut down new caregiver app InvolveCare

By Jonah Comstock
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InvolveCareAs we reported in our Friday in-depth report on payers at HIMSS, Aetna is shutting down its InvolveCare caregiver support app. The app has been in full beta, but will not receive a full commercial launch. Users will have until April 28 to download their data before having it deleted.

"InvolveCare was introduced last fall and was in the late stage of a Beta roll-out," Aetna Communications Director Sherry Sanderford wrote in an email to MobiHealthNews. "At this time, we decided not to move into full commercial operation. Instead, we are moving the technology and learnings from the endeavor into Healthagen for possible future offerings."

Aetna unveiled InvolveCare, a company under the Healthagen umbrella, last fall at Health 2.0 in San Francisco. At the time, InvolveCare CEO David Williams told MobiHealthNews that the company was coming out of beta "in the next couple of weeks."

The app was an interface for a community of caregivers -- including an aging or sick person, members of his or her family, and a professional care team -- to communicate needs. Williams also stressed in October that the app would ease stress and depression and improve the mental health of the caregiver as well as the patient.

"When you look at creating a support network, with the enablement of technology it's pushing toward actual integration and interaction between families," he said. "Now you have something that actually encourages families to work together and then uses technology to enable it. And that actually, we believe in the long term is going to make a much more supported senior and ultimately reduce healthcare costs. And if we can reduce the loneliness, the depression, we will have changed their lives."

The app has sign-ons for any number of family members and friends who want to share care giving responsibilities. The person being cared for can make posts about things they need — a meal, a ride to the doctor’s office, help with a task. Those opportunities to help are posted to the whole family (or whatever portion of it the poster selects) and anyone can opt in by clicking a button marked “I can do that.” If no one is able to help with a caregiving task, the app taps into Aetna’s database of care vendors — adult daycare, meals, hospice care — and can give the user instructions to find the nearest, best service. Aetna told MobiHealthNews in October that the intent was to monetize InvolveCare by working with employers, while still offering it to the consumer for free.

Williams came to Aetna from PatientsLikeMe, where he was Chief Marketing Officer and Head of Business Development. His move to InvolveCare was driven by his own experiences caring for his own aging father. It's not clear what Williams' role at Aetna will be going forward.

InvolveCare has a second app in the AppStore called NeoCare, intended to support new parents with a child in the neonatal intensive care unit. The free iPad app includes communication with a neonatal coach, educational tools and videos, and a journal and tools for tracking the baby's growth and health. Sanderford said despite the AppStore label, NeoCare will not be impacted by InvolveCare shutting down. She also said the app is in a limited pilot with Aetna customers, and not yet available to the general public.