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Apple, Aetna Create Wellness Program Based on Apple Watch

Apple and Aetna are expanding their Watch collaboration with a new iPhone app and personalized wellness program for members.

Apple and Aetna and the Apple Watch for wellness

Source: Aetna

By Jennifer Bresnick

- Apple and Aetna, newly acquired by CVS Health, have announced a new collaboration that will offer wearable-based wellness services to members. 

The new program, called “Attain,” will leverage the Apple Watch to offer unique incentives and health management tips to participants in an effort to prevent chronic disease and improve quality of life.

The program is geared towards helping members of all backgrounds and fitness levels achieve their personalized activity and wellness goals, and will allow successful participants to earn financial rewards.

“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,” said Alan Lotvin, MD, Executive Vice President of Transformation for CVS Health.

“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. This is an ambitious challenge, and we will adapt and improve over time to create the best experience for our members.”

The initiative is based on a custom-made iPhone app and the use of the Apple Watch, which is gaining traction as a health-centric wearable for clinicians and payers.  The app will be available to download in the spring of 2019.

Attain participants can use the app to set personalized weekly activity goals, take part in weekly challenges, and receive tailored health notifications, such as medication refill reminders or suggestions to get a flu shot.

“The Attain rewards platform builds off a program developed by Vitality Group, a model that has demonstrated that incentives linked to the Apple Watch are associated with increased, sustained activity,” said the companies.

“A recent study from RAND corporation found an average 34 percent increase in activity levels for participants using the rewards platform incorporated in Attain with Apple Watch, compared to those without these incentives - leading to an additional 4.8 days of activity per month.”

The app will also be able to send notifications about pricing of common services, Apple and Aetna said, such as the availability of a lower-cost option for a scheduled service like an MRI.

As members meet their goals, they can earn points that translate into financial rewards.  The points can be used for gift cards to local retailers, or to pay off the cost of the Apple Watch if the member chooses make monthly payments on the device.

Attain users will have the option to share their personal health data with Apple, the companies said.  Apple plans to use contributed data to fuel machine learning algorithms that can enhance the personalization of the experience and fuel new features in the future.

 “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,” said Jeff Williams, Apple's COO.

“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 partnership builds on an existing collaboration between Aetna and Apple launched in 2016.  At the time, Aetna agreed to partially or fully subsidize the cost of the devices for its 50,000 employees and some of its member populations. 

Since then, the Watch has been augmented with health-centric features such as an ECG monitor, and more private payers have integrated the wearable device into their chronic disease management and wellness programming.

UnitedHealthcare has created its Motion program with the Watch in mind, offering similar financial incentives for meeting fitness and activity goals. 

Humana has also created fitness and wellness options involving the Watch, and industry reports indicate that Apple is actively seeking out collaborations with additional Medicare Advantage plans to bring its devices to seniors in need of monitoring and management.

In conjunction with its successful EHR viewing tool, Apple is quickly expanding into the healthcare data market.  Collaborating with payers to collect and leverage user data for wellness and monitoring could be a promising way to improve member experiences and help beneficiaries maintain their activity goals.

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