Apple, Aetna team up on health tracking app

Attain app will help people achieve personalised activity goals, sustain everyday health and get rewards for that

Apple and insurance giant Aetna announced they are launching together an "one-of-a-kind" iPhone and Apple Watch health-tracking app that provides users with personalised activity goals and suggests healthy behaviors, such as sleeping or eating better. The app, dubbed Attain, can also nudge you to get your flu shot or take medication. In return, those who complete Attain's suggested health actions and goals can earn rewards.

For example, those who enroll and don’t already have an Apple Watch receive a Series 3 device from Aetna, or can pay out of pocket for an upgrade to the latest series 4. If they meet their suggested fitness goals over 24 months, they can “earn” back the price of the device. Those who stop participating, however, may be required to pay a portion of the Apple Watch out-of-pocket. But Aetna said that members can notify its customer service team if they have a health issue, such as a surgery or pregnancy, that might prevent them from meeting their goals and then they can keep the watch for free.

The companies have been working together on the innovative app since 2016, hoping to find success where previous efforts have struggled by designing an experience that is unique to the individual, rather than a one-sized-fits-all approach. To achieve that both giants are blending people's health histories with Apple Watch to receive the needed data.

“We believe that people should be able to play a more active role in managing their well-being. Every day, we receive emails and letters from people all over the world who have found great benefit by incorporating Apple Watch into their lives and daily routines,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s COO. “As we learn over time, the goal is to make more customized recommendations that will help members accomplish their goals and live healthier lives.”

Unfortunately, the app, which is expected to launch this Spring would be available only to Aetna members for now.

Healthcare has been on Apple’s radar since at least 2016, when Tim Cook targeted it as an area the company was looking to pursue in an interview with Fast Company:

“We’ve gotten into the health arena and we started looking at wellness, that took us to pulling a string to thinking about research, pulling that string a little further took us to some patient-care stuff, and that pulled a string that’s taking us into some other stuff,” Cook said at the time.

Since then Apple has been ramping up its presence in the healthcare space. It kicked off its healthcare projects in the consumer wellness space when it debuted the Apple Watch, HealthKit platform and Health app a few years ago. Shortly after that, the company launched CareKit, a software framework to help developers create health-focused products for the iPhone. In another example, Apple teamed up with medical device company Zimmer Biomet to explore ways to track how patients recover from knee and hip replacement surgeries using a smartphone app.

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