Humana first major health plan to join Consumer Technology Association

Humana has joined the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)—the first payer to so do—joining companies like Microsoft, Walgreens and Fitbit in the CTA's digital health and fitness division.

Humana has been moving deeper into health IT and expanding its digital health and analytics capabilities, including opening a dedicated center for digital analytics in Boston and adding a new position in its executive suite to oversee digital health initiatives. 

The insurer announced last year the launch of Humana Studio H, a 40,000-square-foot center in the Seaport neighborhood of Boston dedicated to building digital health tools.

Heather Cox also was tapped to lead the venture under the new role of chief digital health and analytics officer. Cox joined Humana from USAA, where she served as chief technology officer for 25 years. Before that, she was CEO of Citi FinTech at Citigroup and head of card operations at Capital One.

The health insurer has been stepping up its efforts to use digital health apps and virtual care to improve care coordination and healthcare delivery and ultimately rein in healthcare costs. It's teaming up with digital health startup Aspen RxHealth to offer Medicare Advantage patients an app that connects them with pharmacists for clinical services, including medication therapy management. Humana also is working with telehealth company Doctor on Demand to launch a new virtual primary care model.

RELATED: Humana sees promising results in 5-year study of Go365 wellness program 

“Humana is advocating and acting on the principle that consumers should have access and control over their health data,” Cox said in a statement. “It makes sense that we would join CTA, an organization whose initiatives align with our own to empower patients with their own health information and guard an individual’s right to select who has access to their record.”

Humana is now a member of CTA's health and fitness technology division, a diverse group of 23 technology companies working to advance the use of consumer-based technology-enabled health solutions to deliver better health outcomes and reduce overall healthcare costs, according to CTA. Marc Willard, vice president for digital health and analytics at Humana, will serve on the board of CTA's digital health division along with Microsoft's David Rhew; Amy Foley, a health and wellness leader at Johnson & Johnson; Greg Orr, vice president of digital health at Walgreens; and Johanna Shelton, director of public policy at Google.

RELATED: Humana, Doctor on Demand launch virtual primary care health plan

“CTA welcomes Humana’s first-of-its-kind perspective to our association,” Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CTA, said in a statement. “Technology has the power to give patients personalized care and more treatment options, while dramatically reducing costs and improving outcomes. Unfettered access to privacy-protected patient data means they can make smarter treatment choices, curbing growing medical costs. We are thrilled Humana shares this vision for the future.”

For the last few years, CTA has expanded its work in consumer healthcare technology with efforts such as artificial intelligence in a healthcare initiative, working closely with policymakers, including the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as well as research on remote patient monitoring and digital therapeutics, the association said.