February 2019 Healthcare Hot Takes: Apple and Aetna Partner on Consumer Health App

Healthcare Hot Takes is Luma Health’s monthly rundown of healthcare innovations happening right now. Check out what the industry is thinking, reading, doing. This month’s main topic is the Apple and Aetna health app.

Story #1: Apple is Partnering with Aetna on a Consumer Health App to Track and Reward Healthy Behavior

Since 2016, Apple and Aetna have been working on this app, entitled Attain, which is being designed for the iPhone and the Apple Watch. They plan to release Attain in early spring when it will be available to the tens of millions of Aetna plan members.

The app will also send friendly reminders to members about annual wellness visits, medication adherence, and more. For Apple, this app is a convenient channel to bolster sales of its Apple Watch product and for Aetna, it’s a way to provide personalized progress and health goals to its members.

This collaboration aims to work where others have failed by really pushing a unique and personalized approach to individual health goals, rewards, and recommendations. The program is voluntary and will enroll up to 300,000 slots available on a first-come, first-serve basis. For those plan members that do enroll, they will receive a complimentary Apple Watch 3 from their insurer (if they don’t already have one), with the option to upgrade to the 4. Members would then use the rewards system in app to meet fitness goals and “earn” back the price of the device over a period of 24 months.    

Luma’s Hot Take: Two giants in their respective fields are committing to team up and provide personalized health goals and tracking in order to promote healthier behavior and ultimately reduce healthcare costs. By reaching patients where they are interacting the most (their phone and/or their wearable device), this app uses traditional reward systems and visibility in order to engage on the newest trend of consumer health. The promised functionality around annual wellness visit reminders, medication adherence, and individualized care plans is something that we at Luma Health are paying very close attention to and are excited to see fleshed out.

Watch our on-demand webinar to learn more about how to leverage reimbursable HIPAA-compliant virtual visits to deliver care and minimize appointment backlogs and cancellations.

Story #2: CMS is Launching It’s First Ever Patient-Facing App for Original Medicare Beneficiaries, Allowing Them to Search for Covered Products and Services.

Even The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is getting in on the app fun! CMS is releasing its first patient-facing app that will allow Original Medicare (not Medicare Advantage) beneficiaries to see if they are covered for certain healthcare services and/or medical products.

Aptly named “What’s Covered,” the app requires no sign-in and is part of CMS’ larger eMedicare initiative, which aims to provide technology solutions that promote transparency and better patient access to health information.

CMS estimates that there will be 80 million Medicare beneficiaries by 2030, and most of these users will be online. The app should help reduce the number of inbound calls that CMS receives related to coverage of services/products. Indeed, they process over 3 million coverage-related phone inquiries per year, and data shows that these are the most common inquiries that they receive.

Luma’s Hot Take: Improving patient access to information through technology for such a large group is definitely a challenge, but also a major leap for a federal organization like CMS. They are putting their beneficiaries first and showing a commitment to convenience and ease of use for patients, which should lead to a more efficient healthcare experience in the future for all involved.

Improving patient access to information through technology is a major leap for a federal organization like CMS.

Story #3: Slack is Making a Push Into the Healthcare Market and is Planning on Making Both File Uploads and Direct Messaging HIPAA Compliant.

Slack has announced that it is working towards making its chat platform completely HIPAA compliant. Under the radar of their confidential filing to go public earlier this week, the messaging giant subtly updated its security page to reflect this HIPAA certification. This is a major milestone for Slack as they look to make forays into the healthcare industry while also becoming a publicly traded company.

Currently, Slack only enables HIPAA-compliant file uploads. Direct messaging and secure channel communication between healthcare providers is expected in the coming months.

Slack’s value proposition, and true advantage over competitors like Stitch (“Slack for healthcare”), is that healthcare providers in both private practice and large hospital networks are already using Slack’s messaging to communicate internally on administrative matters. These users are eager to expand on the existing user interface and platform to communicate on clinical matters around patient use cases. Every year, healthcare communication breakdowns lead to $11 billion in waste. With Slack’s easy-to-use interface and growing network of healthcare users, they have a real chance to be a disruptive force in the $3.5 trillion healthcare market.

Luma’s Hot Take: HIPAA-compliant messaging and file uploads will allow Slack to position itself as a major player in the healthcare communication space, a market that we at Luma Health are very familiar with. We’re super excited to see what’s in store and eager to explore opportunities to integrate with Slack in ways that connect our leading HIPAA-compliant patient engagement management platform to their messaging.

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