Ina Fried of All Things Digital sat down this afternoon with Mark Bertolini, the CEO of Aetna to discuss wellness and technology. The central theme of the discussion was the ability of technology to enable preventative care. Mr. Bertolini pointed out that it is inherently in the interest of insurance companies to encourage preventative care, to the point where it might make sense for them to provide members with these tools for free.
Regarding these tools, Mr. Bertolini stressed that their research shows that these tools need to be as easy to use as possible, and the best results seem to come when goals are measurable and attainable relatively near-term. In particular he called out the iTriage mobile app that is currently available. In addition he spoke about the recently announced Carepass app, which is meant to integrate with one’s medical history as well as doctor scheduling systems. He described the latter feature as “opentable for doctors”.
One related example cited of how tools of the future could work would be an app that works like Google’s ability to plot product availability and pricing on a map. But instead of deals, it would plot health services such as flu shots on a map, with availability integrated to the doctors’ scheduling systems to let you know where you can get a flu shot right now.
Aetna currently offers “Personal Health Records” which are digital repositories of a members’ medical histories. They’re very bullish on the technology, and allowing people to own their own medical data is seen as a big step towards new ways to change behavior. But currently, only 10% of Aetna members take advantage of this functionality.
In addition, Mr. Bertolini pointed out that physicians are overwhelmed with information. If a doctor read two periodical articles every night he would still be 400 years short of being up to date on every specific condition. But technology tools exist for patients to be extremely well informed about their conditions, so in some cases they have more up-to-date information than the doctors. He summed this up as a scalability issue but patients truly owning their own data can help alleviate the strain.