Health insurer giving Apple Watch to staff, discounts for customers

28 Sep 2016

Apple Watch. Image: Connor McKenna

Despite many critiques of the wearable health tracker craze, a US health insurer is betting big on the industry, with Apple Watches on their way to staff and customers.

Aiming to “revolutionise” its customers’ health experience, health insurance company Aetna is taking a more digital route to the adage ‘an Apple a day keeps the doctor away’.

Pinning its business model on mass adoption of Apple Watches, Aetna’s plan is to better understand both its workers and customers, thus presumably managing its premiums more accurately in future.

Future Human

Apple Watch

Apple Watch giveaway

Giving an Apple Watch to each of its 50,000 employees, Aetna will subsidise a “significant portion” of the cost of the watches to select large employers and individual customers.

Subsequently, Aetna will roll out some of its own iOS apps for its customers to use, most likely providing the company with a few more real-time readings than usual.

Calling it “only the beginning”, Mark Bertolini, Aetna chairman and CEO said the use of iPad, iPhone and Apple Watch technologies with customers is the way of the future.

“We look forward to using these tools to improve health outcomes and help more people achieve more healthy days,” he said.

The future apps will revolve around the incorporation of Apple Wallet for transactions, digitised health plans, “medication adherence” and general care management.

Apple Watch. Image: Connor McKenna

Apple Watch. Image: Connor McKenna

Making it in America

A report earlier this year found that US consumers were diving wrist and phone-first into health apps and wearables, with 33pc of mobile consumers (up from 16pc in 2014) now engaged in the new wave of medtech.

Apple’s ResearchKit – which was created last year and is a little difficult to foresee a future in – is kicking into gear.

In March, IBM’s Watson-powered SleepHealth debuted as the first ResearchKit app and study to support its ‘health cloud’ software.

“We are thrilled that Aetna will be helping their members and employees take greater control of their health using Apple Watch,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO.

“Aetna’s new initiatives will be a powerful force toward creating better customer experiences in healthcare, and we look forward to working with Aetna to make them successful.”

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic