Aetna partners with Newtopia, adds price transparency to iTriage

By Jonah Comstock
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iTriage iOS appAetna announced this week a collaboration with Newtopia that's moved out of the pilot phase and into full implementation. It also quietly updated its iTriage app by adding price comparison features for select users.

Last December at the mHealth Summit, iTriage President Jim Greiner mentioned to MobiHealthNews that iTriage was planning to start focusing less on scale and more on adding new features to its app, specifically video visits and price comparison tools.

“We’re all about breadth and ubiquity, but breadth and ubiquity doesn’t really matter,” Greiner said at the time. “We have 13 or 14 million downloads right now, probably one of the leading connected mobile apps out there, but reach doesn’t really matter unless you have engagement. So we’re really focused on creating the right formula and getting people to engage more. And then we’ll turn back up the scale.”

According to the app's iTunes description, as of the latest update "members of select insurance carriers can see estimated cost of care for procedures." An "Average Cost" tab has been added to the Procedures section of the app, but currently bears a "check back soon" message that says Aetna will tap Healthcare Blue Book for pricing information. It's possible some Aetna members are already seeing price data on the app.

Aetna's Newtopia partnership follows on a pilot the company announced in October 2013. Newtopia will offer its health engagement platform to some of Aetna's largest employer customers. The platform uses genetic testing and lifestyle assessments to create personalized nutrition, exercise and behavior management plans for users. Newtopia then supports users with online coaching via mobile devices, social networks, and wearable device integration.

“We’re very excited about our new collaboration with Newtopia, and its potential to help members address metabolic syndrome in a uniquely personalized way,” Dr. Greg Steinberg, head of Clinical Innovation at Aetna, said in a statement.  “As we continue to work towards improving health outcomes and reducing health care costs for our members, Newtopia provides an opportunity for individuals to be inspired by a health engagement platform that allows them to develop healthy habits to meet their own unique lifestyles.”

Aetna says the pilot program, focused on metabolic syndrome, had positive results: members lost weight, reduced their waist size and engaged with the program at a high level.