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Why Aetna added iTriage to its arsenal

Last December, Aetna acquired Healthagen, the developer of the mobile health app, iTriage. With iTriage, consumers can use an iPhone or Android-based device to research symptoms, self diagnose, search for providers, and book appointments with doctors who meet patient-defined criteria.

Don’t be surprised if you see a lot of payers making moves to acquire or add mobile apps that promote patient engagement and help create a more knowledgeable healthcare consumer. After all, there’s a good chance iTriage will save Aetna money in the longterm, because it puts information literally at patients’ fingertips.

A GPS that helps consumers navigate their way

By helping patients figure out what they might have and where to find the appropriate providers, iTriage works like a global positioning system for healthcare consumers. It helps them find their way through the maze of healthcare options to the best ones for their needs.

Any mobile apps that can make payers’ members better informed as they confront healthcare decisions are bound to benefit the payer for many reasons. Here’s just a sampling. A mobile app can streamline the process of getting healthcare by funneling the consumer to the best providers—given his or her needs. Plus, a better informed consumer will make better healthcare decisions and waste fewer healthcare dollars. The kid with an ear infection, a minor laceration or jellyfish sting generally doesn’t need a trip to an emergency room when a quick visit to a local MinuteClinic will do the trick. With the information at their fingertips, the healthcare consumers need never again treat the emergency room as a default setting. And fewer needless ER visits translates into healthcare savings.

What’s more, because the mobile app offers a list of local providers, there’s less guesswork involved in deciding where to go—especially when you can see who is in-network. Aetna’s head of strategic diversification told Mobile Health News that the use of iTriage on the patient engagement side of their accountable care organization could also prevent leakage outside their network.

Don’t be surprised if other payers make similar moves to incorporate mobile apps into their arsenal of weapons to combat fragmented healthcare in America and bring their own costs down.

About one-third of the adult population in the United States has limited health literacy, according to the National Institutes of Health. As a result, they may struggle to take care of themselves, manage a chronic disease, locate providers and services and share their health history information. An app like iTriage can help begin to fill in some of those gaps.

Already, the iTriage app has become the fastest growing health-related consumer application—downloaded 5 million times across 80 countries. Given consumers’ seemingly insatiable demand for healthcare information and guidance, Aetna made the right call when it acquired iTriage. Other payers would do well to take note.


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