News Feature | October 5, 2016

Aetna Employing Apple Watch In mHealth Initiative

By Megan Williams, contributing writer

Image courtesy of Apple.

Aetna and Apple are partnering in a new mHealth initiative that will supply Apple Watches in order to aid in the development of iOS-specific programs.

Every day, mHealth boundaries get a little more blurred and that trend continues with the latest partnership announcement from Apple and Aetna.

According to mHealth Intelligence, the insurance giant has launched an initiative to encourage mHealth among its members. To facilitate that activity, they’ve decided to provide Apple Watches (in some cases at no charge) to employees and a few member populations. The program will begin in the fall of this year. Soon after (early 2017) the company is scheduled to launch iOS-only health initiatives that will be accessible on the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.

Apple CEO Tim Cook shared his thoughts on the partnership, saying, “We are thrilled that Aetna will be helping their members and employees take greater control of their health using Apple Watch. Aetna’s new initiatives will be a powerful force toward creating better customer experiences in healthcare, and we look forward to working with Aetna to make them successful.”

A Reach Into Aetna’s Membership
Aetna currently boasts an estimated 46.3 million members, a rich potential market for Apple’s wearable offering. Aetna’s chairman and CEO, Mark Betolini, also expressed their excitement over the program, saying, “We are incredibly excited to use iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch to create simple, intuitive, and personalized technology solutions that will transform the health and wellness experience for our members. This is only the beginning — we look forward to using these tools to improve health outcomes and help more people achieve more healthy days.”

Still though, some concern has been expressed over the issue of patient engagement and the question of Android users.

A Big Benefit For Members
iOS members who do use the platform will likely see the benefits of mHealth including

  • easier engagement
  • better health outcomes
  • wellness advice
  • support from peers and clinicians
  • medication management
  • easier management of healthcare finances (via Apple Wallet)
  • the ability to manage their personalized health plans

Aetna’s nearly 50,000 employees will be among the recipients of free Apple watches as a boost to their corporate wellness program. The employees won’t be the only ones who benefit though. A New York-based analyst notes that working wearables into a wellness plan can boost employee participation from 20 percent to 60-70 percent and possibly even 90 percent.