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A new social network – Careverge – has been launched today which allows users to share highly personal information about their health and fitness, yet do so totally anonymously. Accounts are created under pseudonyms allowing personal information to be shared without revealing the identity of the user.
Grant Verstandig, CEO of Audax claims “Careverge is the first social network to receive HIPAA compliance, indicating a high level of security for users’ personal health data.” Privacy is assured as personal identifiers are not provided to any other member or third party on the network.
The idea behind the scheme is to develop an online community allowing members to interact with others and motivate each other to achieve health and fitness goals. Online goals can be set up and progress towards them tracked.
Audax Health is the name behind the new network. The startup was financed by investors who managed to raise $16 million in funding to develop and launch the project, with former Apple CEO John Sculley, IAA-CREF CEO Roger Ferguson and former Aetna CEO Jack Rowe among the company’s early investors.
The business plan is straightforward: Develop a social network and allow insurers to provide financial incentives to customers willing to sign up to the service. Insurers will be provided with anonymous information about members and this will allow them to offer better products and services as well as helping them to reduce operating costs by having healthier customers.
The network allows members to share a limited amount of personal information with their insurer, although they must opt in in order to do this. ValueOptions, the largest privately owned behavioral health management organization in the U.S, is one of Careverge’s first customers. One customer for example, offered a free flu shot in return for opting in.
While the network obviously has appeal for insurers, it remains to be seen whether it will appeal to the general public. Even with full HIPAA compliance and assurances that all personal identifiers will be removed from the data, there may be some reluctance to sign up for an anonymous service to monitor your health if the invitation came from your insurer.
However, policy holders may be more than happy to share their personal health information and detailed health information with their insurers in exchange for a reduction in premiums.