Aetna may ‘buy into’ more analytics, digital health

Rumors now mainstreamed into press surround Aetna’s apparent interest in fellow insurers Humana and Cigna. Forbes last Friday started the ball rolling with an article last Friday focusing on the main event driving insurance payer consolidation: the transition of Medicare from fee-for-service to value-based bundled payments and accountable care organization (ACO) models. Humana has substantial Medicare business and a foot in home care (SeniorBridge), but has innovated in digital health: partnerships (Healthsense, TTA 20 Dec 13), purchases (what remained of Healthrageous, TTA 16 Oct 13), employee wellness (Vitality) and app development. Cigna is a major insurer with corporate business, but has struggled a bit in the digital health arena with the flashy-but-flopped patient engagement platform GoYou. It’s piloted telehealth to reduce readmissions with Care Innovations [TTA 7 Oct 14]  and Coach by Cigna, a mobile health platform in conjunction with Samsung for the Galaxy S5 and S6 phones.

Aetna has had some success with working with ACOs, with 62 contracts covering about 1 million lives, but this Editor counts over 400 practice-based ACOs in the Medicare Shared Savings incentive program alone. Their experiment in consumer app aggregation, CarePass, came to a quiet end last August and Healthagen, their ’emerging businesses’ unit, has had some swerves in rationale including iTriage and even ActiveHealth Management, their long-time population health analytics arm. While digital health is part of it (see Mobihealthnews), (more…)

Aetna’s CarePass passing into history

Another Aetna Healthagen initiative is shutting its virtual doors–the much-touted CarePass aggregator for mobile health apps. Available to both Aetna and non-Aetna members, it incorporated leading apps such as Fitbit, Jawbone, Withings, MapMyFitness and BodyMedia. A dimming of its consumer/mobile health star which burned so brightly from late 2012 through last year was evident at this year’s HIMSS. CarePass was nowhere to be seen, and the iTriage patient engagement tool was off in the shadows [TTA 28 Feb]. From its redone website, Healthagen is increasingly concentrated on core areas for payers: ACOs, clinical decision support, data management and health information exchanges. MobiHealthNews broke the exclusive including Aetna’s confirmation and also the quiet departure of two CarePass executives from the company which took place earlier this summer. (more…)

Is the ‘last mile’ of app certification efficacy metrics?

News and announcements around app certification definitely were hot topics in the past week or so, but are they more heat than light? Do these certifications adequately address efficacy? Stephanie Baum, in her follow-up to the Happtique kerfuffle in MedCityNews, opens up the discussion with the proposition: “It seems like there needs to be some way to prove that apps actually help people.” Bradley Merrill Thompson of Epstein Becker & Green points out “It’s certainly useful to know that an app works from a software perspective reliably, but it is even more valuable to know that the app can actually improve health.” While Happtique certification standards have a gap here, this Editor would point out that they were evolved nearly two years ago when the reporting/analysis needed for this was largely not available. Newer programs such as Johns Hopkins’ mHealth Evidence and the new IMS Health AppScript [TTA 15 Dec] can dip into the ‘big data’ pool far more effectively. Will Happtique be able to address this, or leave the ‘last mile’ to others? And what is the real and quantifiable demand for app certification anyway? Health app prescribing by physicians is a question mark in this Editor’s observation; the larger market may be health plans and programs such as Partners HealthCare’s Wellocracy, Cigna’s GoYou  and Aetna’s CarePass.

Launches: MyHealthApps directory, mobile mental health app in Cambridgeshire

MyHealthApps launches; Sun Network launches Crisis Card app for Cambridgeshire residents

Last year at this time, the PatientView patient research firm published The European Directory of Health Apps 2012-2013 with about 200 entries. Alex Wyke from PatientView has been kind enough to follow up and let us know as a comment on the original article [TTA 15 Nov 2012] that it has been expanded and relaunched as MyHealthApps. The site has grown to 307 apps selected by over 450 patient groups and with ‘heart’ ratings on a five-point system. While not comprehensive yet, notably it is now a truly international website with mirror sites in 48 languages from Albanian to Welsh, including four varieties of English (!) There are also submission links for patient groups and developers. PatientView developed this with support from: GSK, Janssen, Novo Nordisk, O2/Telefonica Europe, Vodafone Foundation, NHS England’s Library of Health Apps, UK government body KTN CONNECT and the European Commission’s Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT). The patient group review and backing (more…)

The lack of evidence in health IT and patient engagement

In health economist/consultant Jane Sarasohn-Kahn’s lengthy analysis of the IMS Research report, Patient Apps for Improved Healthcare: From Novelty to Mainstream, ‘mainstream’ does not necessarily mean that apps deliver value–in health outcomes, health support or behavior change–which is why doctors have largely ignored them. For the 43,000+ ‘health apps’ so categorized in the Apple iTunes store, only 23,000 met IMS’ criteria of a ‘genuine health app.’ Few apps manage chronic disease for the highest health spenders or assist seniors, amazingly 5 apps =15 percent of all downloads with most apps having less than 500 downloads. Most apps provide information only and only 20 percent capture/track user data. Not dissimilar to the Manhattan Research smartphone study [TTA 30 Oct], the bulk of apps address behavioral health, eyes and hearing, endocrine and nutrition, heart/circulatory, musculoskeletal, and cancer. In IMS’ view, (more…)