Patient Engagement, Payers

Apple and Aetna partner on personalized Apple Watch health app

Dubbed Attain, the application allows users to set personalized goals, track activity levels and recommend healthy behaviors and actions.

In the latest in a string of moves meant to establish a strong foothold in healthcare, Apple has partnered with Aetna, one of the county’s largest insurers, to develop a personalized Apple Watch app meant to improve the health and well-being of Aetna members.

Dubbed Attain, the application allows users to set personalized goals, track activity levels and recommends healthy behaviors and actions. Participation in Attain’s program – which will launch in the spring – requires Aetna members to have an iPhone 5S or later and an Apple Watch Series 1 or later.

The fitness programs and goals in Attain range from getting a certain amount of steps to swimming and yoga and are calibrated based on a person’s age, sex and weight. Healthy behavior nudges can include improving nutrition, getting more sleep and other proactive health measures.

“From fitness enthusiasts, to casual gym-goers, to parents who get all their exercise by keeping up with their kids – we designed Attain for everyone,”  CVS Health Executive Vice President of Transformation Health Alan Lotvin said in a statement.

“We understand that you don’t need to be a personal trainer or work out several hours a day to be healthier. We’re designing Attain to be personalized and clinically relevant to where each individual is in their health journey.”

One place where Attain differs from other general fitness and wellness programs is by integrating the Aetna member’s health history to to create more customized (and cost-effective) behavior nudges. These include actions such as notifications to fill prescriptions, suggestions to get the flu vaccine and diversion to lower cost lab and imaging services.

Importantly, the app can also provide certain incentives for participation in the wellness programs, including reward points that can be used to defray the cost of an Apple Watch or purchase gift cards. The program will be available to 250,000-300,000 Aetna members initially with eventual plans to expand it across the company’s membership base.

This feature is similar to Apple’s partnership with UnitedHealthcare on the insurer’s Motion program, which allows users to use their rewards to purchase the device if they meet six months of walking goals.

The companies said that Attain is the next step of a collaboration between Aetna and Apple initiated in 2016 that resulted in a large portion of program participants receiving a health benefit from using the Apple Watch. Attain is modeled off a program from Vitality Group which resulted in 34 percent sustained increases in activity levels by pairing fitness goals with the ability to pay off an Apple Watch.

Attain users will have the ability to opt-in and share their application data and health history with Apple, which would allow for the improvement of the program and the development of new features.

“We believe that people should be able to play a more active role in managing their well-being. Every day, we receive emails and letters from people all over the world who have found great benefit by incorporating Apple Watch into their lives and daily routines,” Apple COO Jeff Williams said in a statement.

“As we learn over time, the goal is to make more customized recommendations that will help members accomplish their goals and live healthier lives.”

The companies are attempting to head off some of the privacy concerns that come with integrating medical-grade sensor tracking technology and a user’s health plan by promoting the program as completely voluntary and giving members the ultimate control over what data they want shared.

Additionally, Attain health data is encrypted on the Apple Watch or on Apple and Aetna’s secure HIPAA-compliant severs. The companies also say that information gained through Attain will not be used for underwriting, premium or coverage decisions.

Of course, it’s not a stretch to imagine that the learnings gleaned from the Attain program won’t be used to develop future insurance programs or policies.

Picture: Apple