Aetna's iTriage launches Essentials app, a testing ground for iTriage 2.0

By Jonah Comstock

Aetna subsidiary iTriage has quietly launched a new version of its app, called iTriage Essentials, for iOS and Android platforms. The app is a redesigned, stripped down version of iTriage designed to serve as a testing ground for the company, though it will likely eventually replace the original iTriage app.

“We built this as a platform to test some hypotheses we have and some deep research we’ve done in terms of user behavior and user experience and see how that performs with a small subset of our userbase,” iTriage President Yaniv Kanfi told MobiHealthNews. “We’ve purposefully launched this as a public beta into the market and focused on collecting data. It is tied to a very robust analytics platform and we’re using this as a kind of nimble testing ground for the work that’s to come.”

Kanfi says downloads continue to climb steadily for the company's flagship iTriage app: in fact, they recently passed their 15 millionth download. But he sees a value in being able to innovate their mobile platform going forward so it appeals to new users and younger demographics. This is an area where Kanfi, who joined iTriage just nine months ago, has some experience — he previously led the development of Weight Watchers' subscriber app.

“What we’re building on here is this idea that it is a more personal path, it draws in more of an emotional connection,” he said. “We’ve made some deliberate choices around photography rather than some of the illustrations that we’ve had in the past. We believe the design itself is more forward-leaning than other apps we’ve seen in the marketplace.”

The app has been rebuilt from the ground up, Kanfi said, and Essentials streamlines the path from searching for symptoms to being connected with a provider. Rather than selecting the affected area and then choosing from a drop-down of symptoms, the new app is search-based. And once the user has told the app about symptoms, the engine for recommending care is also improved, with a smoother user experience.

So far the app is only being promoted to a small group of iTriage users and isn’t on offer to iTriage’s provider customers (hospitals and health systems, accountable care organizations, retail clinics, other care providers, and employers who pay for programs in the app). But the new app is also the foundation for a pivot in their strategy that the company plans to announce next month at HIMSS. As it evolves, they do plan to gradually transition Essentials to be their main product.

“iTriage as we know it isn’t going anywhere.” Kanfi said. “It is definitely going to be in the market for a while. Essentials is our testing ground and we’re going to decide how we build on top of it. But the technology it’s built on is completely rewritten, new and improved. We’re very happy with the progress that we’ve made from a technology standpoint, so it will likely be the technology we use moving forward and we will migrate users as well as customers over time.”