Aetna Carepass is no longer just for developers

By: Jonah Comstock | Jun 18, 2013        

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CarePass City To City TabletAetna’s CarePass platform, which has been open to developers since early 2012 and to consumers in a limited beta, officially launched for consumers — not just Aetna members — this morning.

The free mobile and online platform integrates a number of different digital health devices and free apps. Newly announced partners Bodymedia, Jawbone, LoseIt, Withings and Fitbug will join the list of partner apps and devices Aetna has previously announced, as well as Aetna-owned iTriage.

The full list of partners at launch is MapMyFitness, LoseIt, RunKeeper, Fooducate, Jawbone, Fitbit, fatsecret, Withings, breathresearch (makers of MyBreath), Zipongo, BodyMedia, Active, Goodchime!, MoxieFit, Passage, FitSync, FitBug, BettrLife, Thryve, SparkPeople, HealthSpark, NetPulse, Earndit, FoodEssentials,, Healthline, and GoodRx. Previously announced partners that Aetna no longer lists include GymPact, Pilljogger, and mHealthCoach. Martha Wofford, head of CarePass at Aetna, told MobiHealthNews that the partner apps have been downloaded a combined 100 million times.

Additionally, for Aetna members, the platform can make use of personal health information that the user chooses to make available.

“Basically what we’re trying to do is connect core medical data in the form of PHR information with information more in the wellness space of mobile apps,” Wofford told MobiHealthNews. “What we’re trying to do is create this whole picture of one’s health and pull the different pieces from the silos where they sit today to create really personalized insights into one’s health.”

When Aetna was courting developers, the company presented the platform as being about the data. But the insurer has prepared for the consumer launch by putting more effort into creating a consumer wellness experience that wraps around the existing user interfaces of the partner apps.

“When we launched the developer portal I think we had a hypothesis that the data we were opening up — things like aggregated claims data that had not been opened up before or aggregated cost of claims information — would catch on in the developer community like wildfire,” said Jesse Givens, head of CarePass product at Aetna. “When we put that out there, we found that people were interested in it, but conversations we had were far more focused around how do they get their app in front of our members and in front of a large user community.”

The new CarePass platform, which has been “100 percent redesigned” since the beta according to Givens, will have three entry points. One option takes the user directly to iTriage and provides a brief introduction to the app. A second option allows users to connect their partner apps and devices directly to use CarePass as a sort of health data dashboard.

But it’s the third entry point that the company is primarily promoting, which presents users with a choice of goals to work towards. For instance, “run from city to city” is a goal that will allow users to track their running with any app or device on the platform — Runkeeper, the Jawbone UP, a Fitbit, etc. The data from the app or device will be fed into CarePass, which will express the user’s runs as distance traveled between, for instance, New York and Boston. This is a similar approach to engagement to a number of fitness apps including Aetna’s free Passage app, which turns a run into a virtual visit to a foreign city.

Other goals include “kickstart my weight loss” and “fit into my favorite jeans.” Wofford described the jeans goal by evoking Pew researcher Susannah Fox’s idea of a “skinny jeans tracker,” someone tracking their health data in a very rudimentary way based on how they fit into their jeans. But Wofford said the jeans metric is a good example of how CarePass aims to reduce the divide between wellness and health.

“[Fitting into your jeans] is one of the goals we have, and we recommend apps to help [users] acheive that goal,” Wofford said. “But when we think about it, we are actually thinking about metabolic syndrome, because the leading indicator of going from prediabetic to diabetic is actually wasteline. So it actually has a real clinical basis – its not as frivolous as it might sound. … The very same things we’re recommending here in terms of exercise and nutrition are the same things you need if you’re right at that juncture between pre-diabetic and diabetic.”

Once a user selects a goal, CarePass presents them with a curated list of apps and devices they can use to track progress on that goal — not unlike the recently announced app curation engine from Jiff Healthcare. Users can only connect one app or device to a goal at a time, but they can switch at any time. From then on, users can track their progress on CarePass. They can also access the data from the app or device on CarePass, alongside relevant PHI (if they are Aetna users). Finally, users can link out to a relevant SparkPeople community to get support in meeting their goals.

In the future, the company plans to add additional goals focused on sleep, stress management, and possibly even smoking cessation. The company is also considering incorporating PHI from other sources into CarePass. Wofford said this could possibly happen via HHS’s Blue Button initiative if it sees wide adoption.

  • Peter G.

    Just what I want; an insurance company capturing more information on me so they can use it against me. WAKE UP CONSUMERS. This is just a ploy.

  • Frank P

    RE: Insurance Company capturing more data-
    Very good point. I agree that this is an area that health insurance companies should be excluded due to conflicts of interest

  • civisisus

    if only you understood just how bad the insurers are at using actual data – you’d be much less concerned. The day they begin relying much less on their actuaries and underwriters and bogus tables to forecast costs, anticipate needs, and serve clients, the better for everyone

  • @colin

    I’m one of the founders of Filament Labs and creators of HealthSpark. I must say, we’re very excited about the CarePass platform.

    As a small company we no longer have to worry about the high costs and burdens of HIPAA compliance which discouraged many entrepreneurs from building exceptional services and apps you see on iTunes and Android today.

    Based on some of the comments, I think there is a misunderstanding of insurers’ intent. Without the knowledge gained from big data, everyone (especially consumers) are left in the dark on ways to improve their health. We need to be more open minded or our children will be left paying for the sky rocketing and unsustainable costs. Statistics show that relying on people to do this on their own is not a path for success. In 2010, more than $2 trillion dollars were spent treating *preventable* diseases — over 75% of total spending.

    Equally important, technology innovators have to step up to the plate… the world has enough photo sharing apps. This is the United States, THE innovation engine, and we must think different to solve these problems. We’re all in this together and should be mindful of long-term consequences. CarePass is an open platform that anyone can use, even if you’re not a member, and we think that’s awesome.

    My 2cents and I wasn’t paid to say it. Healthcare is our passion.

  • Po538vW3

    I appreciate the sincerity of this statement. However, “insurers’ intent” must be made MUCH more transparent to target consumers. How are consumers to believe in the lofty-sounding public good intentions, when we know that all of this will be collected and maintained, in perpetuity, in large data collection systems that are out of our line of sight, and out of our control?

    Technology CAN, indeed, offer wonderful clarity to users. But choosing to use it is also dangerous and irreversible in this astonishingly connected world. We do indeed need to find ways to support healthy living. But not at the cost of individual dignity.