Aetna Carepass is no longer just for developers

By Jonah Comstock
05:00 am

CarePass City To City TabletAetna's CarePass platform, which has been open to developers since early 2012 and to consumers in a limited beta, officially launched for consumers -- not just Aetna members -- this morning.

The free mobile and online platform integrates a number of different digital health devices and free apps. Newly announced partners Bodymedia, Jawbone, LoseIt, Withings and Fitbug will join the list of partner apps and devices Aetna has previously announced, as well as Aetna-owned iTriage.

The full list of partners at launch is MapMyFitness, LoseIt, RunKeeper, Fooducate, Jawbone, Fitbit, fatsecret, Withings, breathresearch (makers of MyBreath), Zipongo, BodyMedia, Active, Goodchime!, MoxieFit, Passage, FitSync, FitBug, BettrLife, Thryve, SparkPeople, HealthSpark, NetPulse, Earndit, FoodEssentials,, Healthline, and GoodRx. Previously announced partners that Aetna no longer lists include GymPact, Pilljogger, and mHealthCoach. Martha Wofford, head of CarePass at Aetna, told MobiHealthNews that the partner apps have been downloaded a combined 100 million times.

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Additionally, for Aetna members, the platform can make use of personal health information that the user chooses to make available.

"Basically what we're trying to do is connect core medical data in the form of PHR information with information more in the wellness space of mobile apps," Wofford told MobiHealthNews. "What we're trying to do is create this whole picture of one's health and pull the different pieces from the silos where they sit today to create really personalized insights into one's health."

When Aetna was courting developers, the company presented the platform as being about the data. But the insurer has prepared for the consumer launch by putting more effort into creating a consumer wellness experience that wraps around the existing user interfaces of the partner apps.

"When we launched the developer portal I think we had a hypothesis that the data we were opening up -- things like aggregated claims data that had not been opened up before or aggregated cost of claims information -- would catch on in the developer community like wildfire," said Jesse Givens, head of CarePass product at Aetna. "When we put that out there, we found that people were interested in it, but conversations we had were far more focused around how do they get their app in front of our members and in front of a large user community."

The new CarePass platform, which has been "100 percent redesigned" since the beta according to Givens, will have three entry points. One option takes the user directly to iTriage and provides a brief introduction to the app. A second option allows users to connect their partner apps and devices directly to use CarePass as a sort of health data dashboard.

But it's the third entry point that the company is primarily promoting, which presents users with a choice of goals to work towards. For instance, "run from city to city" is a goal that will allow users to track their running with any app or device on the platform -- Runkeeper, the Jawbone UP, a Fitbit, etc. The data from the app or device will be fed into CarePass, which will express the user's runs as distance traveled between, for instance, New York and Boston. This is a similar approach to engagement to a number of fitness apps including Aetna's free Passage app, which turns a run into a virtual visit to a foreign city.

Other goals include "kickstart my weight loss" and "fit into my favorite jeans." Wofford described the jeans goal by evoking Pew researcher Susannah Fox's idea of a "skinny jeans tracker," someone tracking their health data in a very rudimentary way based on how they fit into their jeans. But Wofford said the jeans metric is a good example of how CarePass aims to reduce the divide between wellness and health.

"[Fitting into your jeans] is one of the goals we have, and we recommend apps to help [users] acheive that goal," Wofford said. "But when we think about it, we are actually thinking about metabolic syndrome, because the leading indicator of going from prediabetic to diabetic is actually wasteline. So it actually has a real clinical basis - its not as frivolous as it might sound. ... The very same things we're recommending here in terms of exercise and nutrition are the same things you need if you're right at that juncture between pre-diabetic and diabetic."

Once a user selects a goal, CarePass presents them with a curated list of apps and devices they can use to track progress on that goal -- not unlike the recently announced app curation engine from Jiff Healthcare. Users can only connect one app or device to a goal at a time, but they can switch at any time. From then on, users can track their progress on CarePass. They can also access the data from the app or device on CarePass, alongside relevant PHI (if they are Aetna users). Finally, users can link out to a relevant SparkPeople community to get support in meeting their goals.

In the future, the company plans to add additional goals focused on sleep, stress management, and possibly even smoking cessation. The company is also considering incorporating PHI from other sources into CarePass. Wofford said this could possibly happen via HHS's Blue Button initiative if it sees wide adoption.


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