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…)

Patients should be less engaged, not more

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Thomas.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]What, the very premise of ‘increasing consumer engagement’ doesn’t work? Whatever will all the (startups, websites, gamification, personalized health, behavior modification, Quantified Selfing) do?

What the chronically ill really want is less engagement with, less time spent on their particular condition or disease–certainly not to be forced into Sisyphean tasks. What this Editor has termed the ‘perpetual Battle of Stalingrad’ of self-monitoring (especially apparent in diabetes) means extra effort with minimal/no reward, never achieving ‘normal’ and never catching a break. Glen Tullman, former CEO of Allscripts and currently a healthcare investor with 7WireVentures, points out that the endless promotion of ‘consumer engagement’ is not only patronizing, but also wrong-headed in blaming the patient for not managing their illness their way. People want simply to live their lives, not their problems.

  • “What if we ask patients—or “health consumers” as I call them—to do less rather than more?” (more…)

Can startups learn from digital health’s flops?

The point may be debatable, but that doesn’t prevent Robin Raskin, founder of SilversSummit and Living in Digital Times, from making it. Keying off the summer edition of the Digital Health Summit, the CEOs of three well-known implosions–Zeo (the first big quantified self fail in sleep tracking, TTA 13 Mar 13), HealthRally(social networking/crowdfunding) and Healthrageous (personal health management, sold after it never fulfilled its promise to Humana, TTA 16 Oct 13) discussed their mistakes. Ten points plus each on video.Learning From Failure in the Digital Health Business (HuffPo)

Health tech enthusiasm ≠ implementation and scale

Laurie Orlov’s impressions of this year’s Connected Health Symposium, hosted as usual by Partners HealthCare in Boston, presents the conundrum that telehealth and health tech faces beyond the consumer segment, booming fitness trackers and the apps bought one day, discarded the next. How do you get telehealth beyond the pilot to a permanent program in a health system? Do these systems really want to move healthcare to the home? According to Ms. Orlov, there’s amazingly no change from last year on these questions. They are still testing, not broadly deploying (how do companies like Ideal Life and Care Innovations [ever-funded? really?] which aren’t near substantial adoption continue?); and health systems are moving care from brick-and-mortar to the home but slowly, still. Continuing too is the lack of focus on how technology can work best with older adults.  (more…)

Humana, Healthrageous and some object lessons

The acquisition of the assets of Partners HealthCare spinoff Healthrageous by insurance and health service giant Humana is reverberating in the field in the US, particularly those in the buzziest digital health sectors. Some may look away, but a hard look provides some object lessons at the sheer unpredictability of the field for those who are innovating and attempting to shape consumer behavior and health. (Not behavioral health)

  • Healthrageous had an impressive lineage and credibility. Developed over three years at Partners HealthCare, it was spun off in 2010, PHC members on the board, leadership from well-known/regarded figures such as Rick Lee and Mary Beth Chalk–and enjoyed abundant, rapid startup funding–$12.5 million in two rounds, the last exactly one year ago, from equally impressive investors, reportedly $15 million total. No raiding the credit cards here.
  • It occupied what everyone for the past few years thought of as a sweet spot–personal health management targeted to employers/benefit managers along with health plans to lower costs that combined sensor-based telehealth data with individualized coaching and feedback–and data from a broad base of 10,000 users. (more…)