Hartford, CT – Last week, Aetna announced that it is pioneering a unique initiative – the health insurance giant will be the first in its industry to help subsidize the cost of an Apple Watch for some of its members. For those who choose to take advantage of the program, this will likely feel like Christmas came early as they get a nice discount on a coveted gadget. In reality, this announcement signifies a commitment to investing in healthcare tracking and preventative care. Aetna also shared that it will be giving Apple Watches to all of its 50,000 employees and encouraging them to participate in a pilot wellness program.

The subsidy program is actually just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the partnership between Aetna and Apple. Together they will be launching “deeply integrated health apps for use across iOS devices.” These apps will address a range of Aetna’s member’s needs from billing and health plan details to care management and treatment adherence. For more info on Aetna’s announcement, please see: http://investor.aetna.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=110617&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=2206242

Why This Matters –

This news marks a shift in the way both insurers and patients are viewing their roles in wellness. Aetna’s program is an acknowledgement that they want to do more for their members than just cover medications and treatment—they want to enable wellness. For those patients who choose to participate, it will help them own more of their health management and data. Aetna’s act is an investment—hopefully one that will pay them dividends through more informed and engaged patients, more accurate diagnoses based on better data, and overall better health outcomes.

Innovative programs like this in a conservative industry like insurance should stand as a stark reminder to all of us. Bold moves and calculated risks must be taken by all the major players in healthcare if we are going to make any headway in fixing this broken system.

About the Author:

Drew Beck has spent his entire career in healthcare — from direct patient care as an EMT in college to countless roles in pharma sales and global marketing for leading life science companies including Eli Lilly & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline. He is currently a leader on the Syneos Health Insights & Innovation team, a group charged with leveraging deep expertise in virtual collaboration, behavioral science, trends-based-innovation, custom research and global marketing insights.