Doctor, doctor: Revolutionising telehealth with the Aetna app

written by Rebecca Dobson
Doctor, doctor: Revolutionising telehealth with the Aetna app

Here’s how our creative app design team helped create a revolutionary telehealth app.

Part of Aetna, a Fortune 100 company in the United States, Aetna International looks after the health of over 650,000 expatriate members around the world. With more than 160 years experience under their belt, they’re revolutionising medical insurance across all four corners of the globe. Not to mention winning armfuls of awards including ‘Best International Private Health Insurance Provider’ and ‘Health Insurer of the Year’.

Having such mobile clients means they need to stay ahead of the game to continue to deliver benefits that go above and beyond the everyday insurance experience. With a skilled team at the helm, they’ve been developing new propositions and products that empower members, transforming the company into more than just a healthcare provider – instead becoming a healthcare partner.

Aetna Health Hub - Creative digital design

Take their Health Hub. It’s a secure online member portal but not as you know it. We worked with the Senior Director of Global Digital Marketing, Sheeba Kakar, to create a destination portal for expatriate members that was more than just a document repository. Instead, it’s full of functionality that delivers customisable convenience alongside localisation and value-adding content such as tailored health and wellness resources that allow members to build their own action plan for keeping healthy when away from home. It’s raised the bar for provider propositions and seen digital adoption soar.

So, of course, it made sense to team up to deliver the next big thing on their list: a telehealth service, backed up by a beautifully creative app design.

A cross-borders project for the smartphone savvy

The digital innovation drive knows no bounds and with functionality evolving, the possibilities are limitless. But what exactly is telehealth? Also known as virtual health, it’s essentially a practitioner in your pocket, enabling users to book video appointments with a doctor without the waiting time and then order prescriptions at the tap of a button.

According to Dr Sneh Khemka, Aetna International’s President of Population Health, it’s fundamentally changing the way healthcare is managed and delivered, allowing Aetna to provide a ‘uniquely integrated healthcare journey’.

vHealth by Aetna - Creative app design

So where to start? First, Aetna International held on-the-ground focus groups in India, where the app was to be launched initially, to get to know the potential users and the kind of functionality they need. This kind of insight is invaluable as it provides real-life relevance and keeps the brief grounded, as well as giving a shopping list of features to, well, feature.

Then came the check-in with the in-house IT teams and the Indian developers to make sure that everything was in place – or could be put in place – in the back-end for Aetna’s multiple systems to all talk to each other. Once this was ticked off, the creative thinking got underway.

‘India has a reputation for rapid acceptance of technology, including smartphones, making it a perfect market for the launch of such an innovative tool, which we believe will revolutionise the primary care system’. Dr Sneh Khemka, President of Population Health


Putting pen to paper

As with all our creative app design projects, the first step involved brainstorming and wireframing. We started by looking at some of the other players on the market, as well as some of our most used non-industry apps, to get a feel for the latest interactions and the latest trends. This gave us a great moodboard of inspiration and ideas, and a jumping off point to go beyond simple swipes and predictable pinches.

vHealth by Aetna wireframes - behind the scenes

Take the main navigation – instead of a standard dashboard, we realised that we needed something more engaging that reduced the number of clicks back and forth the app to access the different areas. We came up with the wheel – a thumb-sized graphic that spun on demand and looked as good expanded as it did minimised. First element down. Countless more to go.

Working in agile sprints, we began to flesh out more of the features and work out how the number of screens and how they should interact with each other. App design is a moving beast and with stakeholders across three different continents discovering new capabilities and limitations, we were working fast to keep the ideas coming.

We took the wireframes over to New York City for sign off and once we had the green light, we began working up a visual identity for the app. Aetna knew they wanted the app to be known as vHealth and the original research had given us lots of insight on region-appropriate colours, so armed with these two starting points, we were off.

vHealth by Aetna logo design and geometric pattern

We developed several different graphics and patterns, experimenting with colour ways and typography, to find the right fit. In a country as culturally vibrant as India, colour brings together all the different outlooks, lifestyles and traditions. But we had to be mindful that some of the colours we favour here in Europe have very different connotations over there. With a little tweaking of creative, it was decided: a polygon graphic with a gradient from blue to green. It was bright and fresh, giving us cohesion throughout the different pages while enough flexibility and flair for movement.

Creative app design: The next steps

And from there, it was all about skinning the wireframes with the vibrant visual identity and writing compelling copy that drove users into and through the app.

We wanted Aetna’s tone of voice to shine through the app at every stage and feel a familiar part of the existing experience. The language we used needed to convey the caring nature of Aetna and its employees, while reinforcing the extensive experience of its 16,500 Swiss-trained medical professional partners. In our line of work, we see that clients can find this a difficult balance to strike but we’re able to demonstrate that insurance-speak doesn’t have to be impenetrable and administrative communications can be engaging.

Aetna direct marketing email designs
Case in point: our suite of triggered HTML emails hits the nail on the head with content that communicates all the need-to-knows with character, and uses rich graphics to drive users back to the app.

The future for vHealth

In our connected and ever-busy world, telehealth provides a welcome solution for the time-poor and vHealth is already making its mark on the Indian market. Since launching in May 2017, it’s reduced the need for a physical consultation by an average of 47%, helping users to get the medical care they need, then carry on with their day.

Buoyed by its success, Aetna has high hopes for the future aspiring to reach 4 million customers in India by 2020, while also launching the app in the UK, Dubai and Singapore. And we’re really proud that our creative app design will play a part in the business’ success.

vHealth: revolutionising healthcare one app at a time.

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