Seeking Patient Engagement, Payer Curates Mobile Apps

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media , July 9, 2013

At the moment, Aetna is more focused on empowering consumers to bring their data together to track and trend that information. But caring for a condition is clearly the next step. "I think you're right about understanding that there's a continuum here, where we currently are, versus what the opportunities are."

One thing that Aetna cannot do is curate more than a few dozen apps, which leaves another 40,000 or so mobile health apps outside their reach or recommendation. As far as assurance that the few dozen apps are good apps, Wofford admits that popularity is one determinant. Startup apps such as Zipongo may slip in as well, but they must have a national footprint to play in CarePass, she adds.

To promote CarePass, Aetna just launched a Web site,, which it is promoting on TV and other media, even billboards. Wofford won't give specific numbers, but it's clear Aetna hopes to reach many of the 100 million consumers I mentioned earlier.

All around the Internet, opportunities beckon to providers and payers. It remains to be seen just how successful traditionally dominant healthcare players will fare. But these are platform plays, so don't bet against the big players. Healthcare will be the same kind of one-stop shopping, or impulse experience as showrooming has become in retail stores. Expect the unexpected.

Scott Mace is senior technology editor at HealthLeaders Media.
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