Last summer, as part of its “What’s Your Healthy?” national campaign, Aetna launched the CarePass consumer website and mobile solution. Now, a year later, the insurer has decided to phase out CarePass by the end of 2014, as first reported by MobiHealthNews.

“At this time, we have decided to make no further investments in the CarePass platform,” said Cynthia Michener, spokeswoman for Aetna, in a written statement in response to a query from Health Data Management. “Current CarePass users will continue to have access to the CarePass platform for the time being, but we plan on closing the CarePass web and mobile experiences by the end of this year.”

Designed to empower users to create, track and achieve their health and wellness goals, the CarePass platform enables consumers to securely pull data from to track and display progress toward their goals. Available to both consumers and Aetna members, CarePass features a catalog of more than 20 apps including iTriage, BodyMedia, Fitbug, UP by Jawbone, LoseIt!, and Withings.

“We are consistently creating technology-based solutions that make it easier for consumers to navigate the healthcare system and get the most out of their health benefits,” Michener said. “While we are continually developing these solutions, we also need to evaluate our investments to ensure that we are providing the most value to our members.”

The potential benefits of mobile healthcare for patients, physicians, and providers is often touted, however less discussed is the payers' financial interest in minimizing their risk by actively promoting the health of their policyholders—often these days through access to health and wellness mobile apps.

“The closure of Aetna's CarePass illustrates the struggles companies in the digital health space are experiencing and facing in developing and sustaining users, and business models to scale,” said Frost & Sullivan's mHealth/telehealth expert Daniel Ruppar. “Companies are still learning how to effectively engage consumer and professional users. They're also trying to determine what works in terms of scaled solutions outside of the rampant piloting which goes on for mobile and other progressive technology markets including telehealth and remote patient monitoring.”

Insurers are among the healthcare industry's most important stakeholders in keeping members healthy. The goal is to improve people's overall health through behavioral change. Aetna, Humana, Kaiser Permanente and UnitedHealth Group are all early-stage mHealth adopters. But, successfully taking the “mobile leap” requires a well-thought out strategy that weighs risks against rewards and identifies customer wants and needs.

“The mobile health platform is still a goal, especially in regards to solving problems in cross-application interoperability for users and vendors alike,” said Ruppar. “In reality, however, many endeavors are exploratory in nature for key healthcare stakeholders, including those of big pharma and payers in digital health.”

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