Payers, Health IT

Apple and Aetna partnership finds a leader

One year after Apple and Aetna formed an alliance, Aetna appears to have found someone to lead those corporate wellness efforts.

Fitbit’s push to make its fitness trackers more than a consumer fitness gadget and play a role in healthcare and corporate wellness programs through Fitbit Group Health and other initiatives has led to partnerships with UnitedHealthcare, Qualcomm and other organizations. Equally important for a publicly traded company, those collaborations offer ways to help Fitbit continue to expand its customer base. It also added digital health experts such as Adam Pellegrini, who was previously Walgreens’ vice president of digital health.

Apple and Aetna seem to be taking a page from those efforts. After these companies formed an alliance last year, CNBC reports that Aetna has now found someone to lead those wellness efforts.

Ben Wanamaker hails from Walmart, according to a report from CNBC, where his job has entailed heading up business development and strategy for the company’s health, wellness and e-commerce businesses, with a focus on partnerships.

Aetna did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

About one year ago, when the alliance with Apple was first announced, Aetna said it would subsidize the purchase of Apple Watches, becoming the first payer to do so. Although the amount of the subsidy would depend on the plan, Aetna noted at the time that some employer group participants could pay the balance of the cost of the Apple Watch through payroll deductions.

Aetna also said it would offer several iOS-exclusive health initiatives, including apps that run on the Apple Watch, iPhone and iPad. Aetna is working on apps for care management and wellness, medication and adherence, health plan enrollment and to integrate with Apple Wallet to allow members to pay medical bills from their mobile devices.

Another example of an insurance company that’s warmed up to wearables for members is Anthem, which offers a 20 percent discount on Garmin activity trackers.

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