Exclusive: Aetna to shut down CarePass by the end of the year

By Jonah Comstock
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CarePass iPhone appAfter MobiHealthNews spotted and reported on the departure of two Aetna executives on the CarePass team, Aetna has confirmed exclusively to MobiHealthNews that it will be phasing out the platform, and that the previously announced employer pilots will not be going forward.

"At this time, we have decided to make no further investments in the CarePass platform," an Aetna spokesperson told MobiHealthNews in an email. "Current CarePass users will continue to have access to the CarePass platform for the time being, but we plan on closing the CarePass web and mobile experiences by the end of this year. In addition, we will not be conducting pilot programs with Aetna plan sponsors that were previously reported."

In additional comments, the company emphasized the exploratory nature of the platform and stressed that valuable lessons had been learned.

"One of the primary ways that Aetna is improving health care is through the increased use of innovative technology," the spokesperson wrote. "We are consistently creating technology-based solutions that make it easier for consumers to navigate the health care system and get the most out of their health benefits. While we are continually developing these solutions, we also need to evaluate our investments to ensure that we are providing the most value to our members."

The statement hinted that some of the work that had gone into the CarePass platform might resurface in other parts of Aetna's ecosystem, including possibly iTriage, one mobile tool the company does not apparently have plans to drop.

"Aetna is committed to being a consumer-focused company that helps build a more connected and effective health care system," the email went on. "CarePass has provided us valuable experience in important areas such as the use of open APIs for health data, helping people use their data to power health goals, and collaborating with innovative companies who are developing popular health care apps. As we improve the mobile experience for consumers through enhancements to tools like iTriage, we will use this experience to help engage people in their own health care and empower them to live healthier lives."

As our previous article pointed out, Aetna cancelled another mobile project -- InvolveCare -- earlier this year, although the company had invested considerably fewer resources in that product than in CarePass. Although Aetna had begun to downplay CarePass in recent months, for most of its existence it was the face of Aetna's consumer health outreach and its mobile health endeavors. At his December 2012 mHealth Summit keynote, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini had high hopes for the product, saying it would reduce healthcare costs and "make our economy healthier".

The company found no shortage of willing partners to feed data into the app. Over the two years of its existence, CarePass interfaced with 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, Personal.com, Healthline, GoodRx, GymPact, Pilljogger, mHealthCoach, Care4Today, and meQuilibrium.

But for all the support from an industry thirsty for data connectivity, an open question is whether the insurer found quite as many willing users -- even after opening the platform up to all users, not just Aetna customers. It seems likely from today's news that they did not.