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Aetna's Michael Mathias Focused On Expanding the Business

The newly minted CIO (former CTO) is working on health IT and customer experience initiatives to help grow the health carrier.

Michael Mathias was named CIO of Aetna late last year, following the promotion of former CIO (and Insurance & Technology Elite 8) Meg McCarthy to EVP. Mathias spoke about moving into the new role and some of his focus areas at the Hartford-based health carrier.

Insurance & Technology: What's different about being the CIO as opposed to the CTO?

Michael Mathias: In my role as CTO I focused on technology, but also was focused on how that drove business value. In the CIO role, continuing that is really what I'll be focused on. It's really a continuation of how Meg drove IT. She prepared me very well for this. It's more than just looking at technology, but also how it's going to drive value both internally and for our shareholders.

I&T: Aetna acquired Medicity, a health information exchange technology company, last year, soon after you took over as CIO. What are some of the plans there?

MM: We're looking to further ourselves in health IT. Medicity brings a whole new delivery model and platform to us. We acquired ActiveHealth Management [in 2005], which was a leader in the space; they provided us our PHR platform. We're very excited to marry our clinical decision support capability that ActiveHealth brings to the table [with Medicity].

I&T: What does Aetna see as the business value in health IT?

MM: We're always looking for opportunities to grow. Health IT and information can be leveraged for better outcomes from a clinical perspective by making info better available to customers, plan sponsors and providers. You have to bring all aspects of the enterprise together to deliver that holistic solution and that end-to-end view. Internally and externally, we're looking for ways to bring new products and services to the market.

I&T: What else are you looking at in the near term?

MM: There are a number of things I'm really excited about. How we'll be engaging with our consumers going forward, both from a mobility standpoint and how we can use social. Modernizing our data warehouse, making info more readily available to our business partners.

I&T: What are some of the objectives behind that data project?

MM: We have a warehouse today, but we need to evolve. We think it's a strategic asset. We have multiple delivery points along the way to provide value to our business and our customers. It's not a big-bang approach, but keeping in mind where the market is and driving toward. We'll always be adding data, adding information and deriving value from it.

I&T: Healthcare reform is back under debate following the midterm elections. How does that affect your health IT strategy, for example — would you be taking on the initiatives you are anyway even though they may not be legislated?

MM: The pressure healthcare reform puts on us is responding to the regulations. We want to make sure we're compliant with all the regulations out there. As far as health IT and what the healthcare reform bill means for that, with or without healthcare reform, it's the wave of the future. You talk about the consumerization of both IT and health care, how do you deliver products and services in a way individuals want to be engaged in. It's got to be multichannel, it's got to be easy to use. It's a platform that, with or without healthcare reform, the industry needs to drive toward.

Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio

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