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Insurer's App Aims to Lower Healthcare Costs, Securely

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, May 21, 2013

iTriage CEO and co-founder Dr. Pete Hudson at the White House

Aetna will allow patients and providers to communicate directly via a mobile application that protects data privacy and indicates when care options are high cost, out of network, or present challenging payment arrangements.

If you have any doubt that leading mobile health apps are about to become a whole lot more important to providers, let Aetna's iTriage set you straight.

Aetna's application developers are preparing to allow patients and providers to directly communicate with each other in a new version of the iTriage app due to hit the streets in the next two months.

The new version, first revealed in a post-HIMSS video by Pat Salber, MD, uses the Direct protocol to solve a major usability problem with doctor/patient communications today.

That problem has to do with the fact that email is inherently not a secure medium. Due to the constraints of HIPAA, physicians cannot use ordinary email to communicate any protected health information to patients, nor to receive PHI from patients.

Instead, patients must log into secure Web portals to send and receive PHI to doctors. This personal data can be anything from test results, to changes in their treatment, to medical advice.

In the fee-for-service world, this mattered little, because email consultations were not billable events. In an accountable care world, the physician is incentivized to keep the patient healthy, while at the same time keeping costs low, including minimizing office visits, as well as enhancing patient satisfaction.

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2 comments on "Insurer's App Aims to Lower Healthcare Costs, Securely"


Deb (5/22/2013 at 1:57 PM)
Question, who, or what entity is in charge of determining what "care" options are offered? While the article states that patients "engaged in the knowledge of medicine, the knowledge of treatment, understanding the ecosystem" is important, I'd guess that "care" options presented will be limited by what someone else defines as appropriate - not by what a particular person may deem best for their health. It's hard enough for any practitioner to see beyond their world, something like this seems more likely to limit options than expand them. For example, for someone with what may be chronic gut issues, will the dat return the result of how simply changing one's diet (a very cost effective solution) can eliminate such distress. Or, will acupuncture or SCENAR be offered in the vast world of "pain management." Will mindfulness practices be recommended for stressors? Whatever data is loaded in is critical to allowing people to truly have a range of knowledge about the vast range of "medicines" available.

Dr P (5/22/2013 at 11:32 AM)
Patients can just go to the WebMD website and get their diagnosis. Nobody with a busy life and job would use this App...this is for the new generation of Obamabots who have no jobs and lay around doing nothing all day.