Jan 29, 2019 / Jonathan Shieber
In its clearest move yet to woo the healthcare industry, Apple has collaborated with the health insurance provider Aetna to launch a new app, called Attain, that uses Apple Watch data to provide a window into users’ health.
The launch stems from a 2016 collaboration between the insurer and Apple that saw 90 percent of participants in a study reported a health benefit from using their Apple Watch.
Both Apple and Google (through its parent company, Alphabet) have been making headway into personalized health using wearables. Earlier this month, Alphabet’s Verily business unit had its wearable device approved by the FDA for tracking heart health. Apple had received its approval from the FDA in September 2018 when it launched a new version of the Apple Watch.
“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.”
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]. “When you look at most of the solutions, whether it’s devices, or things coming up out of Big Pharma, first and foremost, they are done to get the reimbursement [from an insurance provider]. Not thinking about what helps the patient. So if you don’t care about reimbursement, which we have the privilege of doing, that may even make the smartphone market look small.”
The new Attain app consists of four pillars divided into achieving activity goals; sustaining everyday health, personalized health notifications; and rewards for achievements.