Health insurer Aetna, a CVS Health business, and Apple are partnering on a new wellness app that combines activity-driven incentives and rewards with personalized health recommendations.
The Attain app for Apple Watch consists of customized activity goals, weekly challenges to sustain everyday health, personalized health notifications for key health moments, and reward-earning opportunities including points that can be redeemed to offset the cost of the Apple Watch or for gift cards to certain retailers.
The FDA, over the last few years, has been taking steps to encourage more development and greater innovation in digital healthcare. Personalized health wearables are evolving as Apple and Google (through Alphabet, its parent company) make their way into the space. Alphabet's Verily smartwatch recently received FDA approval for its electrocardiogram (ECG) app. In September 2018, FDA approved two ECG apps built into the new Apple Watch Series 4.
“From fitness enthusiasts, to casual gym-goers, to parents who get all their exercise by keeping up with their kids—we designed Attain for everyone,” said Alan Lotvin, MD, executive vice president of Transformation for CVS Health. “We understand that you don't need to be a personal trainer or work out several hours a day to be healthier. We’re designing Attain to be personalized and clinically relevant to where each individual is in their health journey. This is an ambitious challenge, and we will adapt and improve over time to create the best experience for our members.”
Attain is expected to be available in the Apple App Store in Spring 2019.
Here’s how experts say the partnership will affect healthcare organizations:
Theresa Hush, CEO of Roji Health Intelligence, which provides technology and consultation to healthcare systems and providers for measuring and improving patient health:
“The Apple Watch provides a prized opportunity for Aetna to obtain member fitness data and interact with these members in a new way. Many covered patients will also find it rewarding. But, there’s no silver bullet, and there will be pushback from both providers and patients. The data will raise concerns about the validity of goals developed by the insurer without patient or their provider input. Healthcare executives believe that tracking goals and improving health is their territory.
“How the data is used to reward ‘compliant’ members also carries the risk of penalizing vulnerable groups, like those who can’t meet goals because of social determinants of health. Sharing of data and analytics with providers and patients will be essential to making the program accepted and effective as it develops.”
Jacob Sattelmair, president and CEO, Wellframe, a healthcare IT company based in Boston:
“In response to the threat of disruption from new entrants, we see more and more health plans partnering with digital innovators to reimagine how they support members outside of the four walls of care delivery—what we have been referring to as ‘digital health management.’ While it will take time to determine which of these partnerships are successful in creating tangible value for members, we are encouraged that this trend will ultimately result in better member experience and higher-value healthcare.”
Jeremy Urbas, vice president of healthcare communications solutions at Broadridge, a $4-billion global fintech company:
“Aetna’s move into wearable tech is a great step toward tailoring communications for their members and reaching them via channels that are already part of their daily routines. In fact, we recently found that eight in 10 people with health insurance want more personalized experiences from their insurer. It will be interesting to see how consumers react to the sharing of data between wearables and insurers, and if this level of trust will mimic what consumers have with their doctors. Will provider networks try similar approaches? Companies could see even further digital engagement and brand loyalty in the long-term by leveraging the nuanced data in customer touch-points beyond the app, such as the bills and statements they send.”