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Written by

Rebecca Dobson
Introducing the expatriate insurance experts

With 650,000 expatriate members around the world, Aetna International (owned by Fortune 100 insurance giant Aetna), is one of the world’s largest iPMI firms.

It has won a number of awards recently. The list includes ‘‘Best International Private Health Insurance Provider’ and ‘Health Insurer of the Year’. But it isn’t done yet.

It’s always finding new ways of going above and beyond the ‘normal’ insurance experience, as it transitions from being a health insurer to a healthcare partner.

Our app design - Aetna Health Hub laptop and mobile website designs

It already has a Health Hub app – which we worked with Senior Director of Global Digital Marketing, Sheeba Kakar, to design. With it, users can find a doctor near them, check personalized wellness and health content, and pick through all the documents relevant to their policy.

Digital adoption’s on the up, thanks to Health Hub. But things can always go further – soon afterwards, Aetna International asked outré creative to take care of the app design for its new telehealth proposition.

No barriers

The digital drive keeps whirring away, but telehealth is a relatively new area of tech. You might’ve heard of it as ‘virtual health’.

Users can book an appointment and then attend wherever they are – then order prescriptions with a tap after then call.

Dr Sneh Khemka, Aetna International’s President of Population Health, says it’s changing the way Aetna manages healthcare, allowing it to provide members with a ‘uniquely integrated healthcare journey’.

Our app design - vHealth by Aetna on mobile

The project first launched in India – where Aetna International held focus groups, to get a better understanding of the people who would use the app, and the functionality they’d like to see.

With a firm understanding of where the user base saw the app design heading, we checked in with the in-house IT and Indian development teams. Once we understood all the technical constraints we needed to work within, and the functionality which was achievable, we started our design work.

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

Wireframing the app

The first stage in any digital project is to research what’s already out there. To do this, we looked at apps from across healthcare and beyond, to get a feel for the latest trends and user expectations.

We then started to wireframe the app itself, thinking hard about new features that would really wow the audience.

vHealth by Aetna wireframes behind the scenes

For example, we created a ‘wheel menu’ rather than a standard dashboard, to let users quickly hop between sections of the app and find what they need, super fast.

As we carried on working (in agile sprints), we worked out how the screens would best work together and made clear recommendations on this. All while being updated by stakeholders in three continents on the latest developments from their side. And adapting our design to suit their changing needs.

What next for our app design?

Aetna already had a name for the app: vHealth. And its research gave us a good steer on colourways.

vHealth by Aetna logo design and geometric pattern

Some colours preferred in the western hemisphere have different connotations in India. So we had to be mindful of cultural differences.

But after experimenting with different patterns, colourways, and typography, we found the right fit.

The brand makes heavy use of a gradient-based graphic, giving the app a bright and fresh look. And the design has a lot of potential for movement, building on brand elements that feel lively and dynamic.

Then we skinned the wireframes, and wrote copy that we knew would keep Aetna’s members engaged.

A voice you can trust

Healthcare isn’t just procedural – it’s emotional. We wanted Aetna’s trustworthy, caring, and friendly tone of voice to shine through. But at the same time, it also needed to reflect the experience of the 16,500 Swiss-trained medical professionals who members talk to.

It’s not an easy balance to strike, but we made it. And by doing so, we showed that even the most technical-seeming communications can be written in a way that’s easy to follow.

Aetna direct marketing email designs
We created trigger-based HTML emails for Aetna which communicate everything users need to know, without alienating them with technicalities or losing the friendly tone of voice. And we applied the same vibrant visual style that we developed for the app.

The future for vHealth

App design is a tricky one to get right – particularly for a system as complex as telehealth.

But vHealth is already becoming a success in India, and we can’t wait to see where it goes from here.

Since launching in May 2017, it’s helped reduce the number of members needing a physical consultation by around 47%. So they’re able to get the care they need without interrupting their day. We’re very proud that our app design was part of this success story.

Aetna’s currently eyeing up more markets, with the UK, Dubai, and Singapore all in its sights. We can’t wait to see where it goes from here.

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