Insurer's App Aims to Lower Healthcare Costs, Securely

Scott Mace, 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.

Scott Mace

Scott Mace is the senior technology editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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