A US health insurance giant is using an AI system to monitor whether patients with chronic diseases are skipping their medication. Cigna's technology, Health Connect 360, will be rolled out to millions of Americans next month. But experts fear the technology will be used to cancel policies or avoid paying up if patients are found to be missing or incorrectly taking prescriptions. Doctors and nurses will be able to constantly keep an eye on patients' health and step in when they have cause for concern. For example, an alert may be triggered if patients forget to pick up their prescription or miss an appointment.
The United States doesn't have a market-based economy for prescription drugs. It has a shame-based economy. The latest example of this Scarlet Letter approach to drug pricing came this week as insurance giant Cigna and its Express Scripts subsidiary announced that consumers with drug benefits managed by the company could see their out-of-pocket costs for insulin limited to $25 a month. "For people with diabetes, insulin can be as essential as air," Steve Miller, Cigna's chief clinical officer, said in a statement. "We need to ensure these individuals feel secure in their ability to afford every fill so they don't miss one dose, which can be dangerous for their health."
Amazon's AI-enabled digital assistant Alexa is adding to its Skills repertoire with a handful of HIPAA-compliant healthcare services. The e-commerce giant announced on Thursday that it's partnered with six companies, including healthcare providers, to offer a series of Alexa Skills that allow users to consult their digital assistant with a range of health-focused inquiries. The new skills are part of an invite-only program that Amazon said allows only select covered entities and business associates subject to HIPAA (the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) to create specialized skills for healthcare-related services. For its part, Amazon is providing the HIPAA-eligible environment in which the skills are built -- and the company will most certainly use this environment to add more healthcare-related skills over time. The corporate partnerships announced today are with prescription delivery provider Express Scripts; Cigna Health Today, a wellness incentive program for Cigna healthcare customers; ERAS, a children's post-op recovery program operated by Boston Children's Hospital; two urgent care locator services, one by Providence St.
Wall Street expressed growing doubts about a pending 54 billion merger of U.S. health insurers Anthem Inc and Cigna Corp on Monday as news of management squabbles added to concerns over its review by antitrust regulators. Cigna shares closed down 4 percent at 126.15, well below Anthem's original 188 per share offer of cash and stock announced last July. Anthem shares fell 1.8 percent to 133.18. "The market is telling you that it feels the probability of the deal is significantly less than 100 percent," Morningstar analyst Vishnu Lekraj said in a telephone interview. He declined to provide his own probability forecast.