Large insurers are investing in mobile health applications that focus on patients' diagnoses and wellness, American Medical News reports.
Several insurers recently have announced investments and pilot projects related to mobile health apps, including:
- Aetna, which acquired iTriage, a maker of an app that allows users to check their symptoms against common diseases and learn more about diagnoses;
- UnitedHealth Group, which launched a series of partnerships with mobile health technology companies; and
- WellPoint and Verizon Wireless, which launched a pilot program that links patients and health coaches through smartphones.
Apps Not Replacing Physicians
The insurers said that although they are developing more complex apps, they are not trying to replace physicians with mobile health apps. Instead, they want to help patients discern whether a physician's care is necessary, and then connect them with a doctor through mobile technology, according to American Medical News.
Joseph Smith -- chief medical officer for West Wireless Health, a mobile health research organization -- said, "The revolution in mobile health is not about replacing physicians, but rather in extending their reach and better targeting their time and talent -- precious resources in the era of a graying population" (Berry, American Medical News, 1/23).