Last week MobiHealthNews broke the news that Aetna had decided to shutdown its high-profile, health tracking and data aggregation platform CarePass by the end of the year. After we reported on two CarePass leaders recent departures from the company, Aetna confirmed its long-rumored plans. For many the shutdown of CarePass was no surprise at all, while others were shocked. Still other commenters pointed to the downfall of CarePass as the beginning of the end for mobile health apps.
On Twitter former ONC lead Dr. Farzad Mostashari suggested that the comments on our Aetna story were worth a read. We've rounded up a few of them below along with reactions we collected from Twitter:
Kevin: API's and marketplaces have been around forever. Aetna should have brought in outside talent to drive this initiative and then moved obstacles out of the way for them to execute. They started with flawed assumptions and delivered very little value to consumers, solutions providers, members or their shareholders.
Jeff: This is a shame, However patient facing apps are not the real value if they are not connected to the EHR, Insurance company [and] others don't get it yet.
D: Another breathlessly hyped "game-changing" platform bites the dust. Did anyone think contrarily that users did not want their fitness/vitals data accessible to an insurance company? It's not like consumers think of payers overall as "good guys" particularly this year! Also you could access every one of these apps separately and only deal with the possibility that they'd sell your aggregated deidentified data. The only chance for these and for Cigna's equivalent GoYou is to spin them off and de-identify them with the insurance parent.
Marcelo: This is fundamentally a consumer-engagement issue. CarePass likely failed because it used old-industry language and mechanics to try to get users using the app. It [delivered] very little value for way too much effort from a users' perspective. Aetna seems to be leading a lot of initiatives to convert itself into a software-powered health insurance company driven by consumer needs. I hope they don't abandon that strategy.
Naveen: It was evident that there wasn't much traction with CarePass at HIMSS earlier this year. So this doesn't come as a huge surprise even though it stings a little bit. Hopefully [it] will serve as a little reminder to all of the digital health hypemen who have been noisy all summer long that this stuff is easy to talk about, but hard to translate into business value. While many will jump on this "failure" - let's not forget that Aetna was and continues to be way ahead of the curve on the payer front when it comes to digital health. Perhaps smart of them to pull the plug on an effort that wasn't working -- fail, learn, and move forward. I'm sure there will be more news out of Aetna before too long.
Read on for reactions to the news on Twitter:
— Greg Matthews (@chimoose) August 25, 2014
The demise of Carepass is a reminder that having a lot of members is very different from having a lot of engaged members. — John de Souza (@john_desouza) August 25, 2014
Some experiments don't work, no shame in moving onto the next "Aetna to shut down CarePass by the end of the year" http://t.co/t1hMtenACC
— Joshua Liu (@joshuapliu) August 24, 2014