Fitbit on December 21 announced it has secured deals to introduce or expand its corporate wellness programs with several major customers, including New York Life, Pitney Bowes, SAP, and Sharp Healthcare. Fitbit organized all of its corporate wellness products and services under one umbrella, Fitbit Group Health, earlier this year. Fitbit Group Health includes access to Fitbit trackers, custom e-commerce storefronts, wellness challenges, and tracking and reporting services. In addition to working with Fitbit Group Health to tailor fitness programs for their employees' needs, some of these customers will be offering discounts for employees' friends and family members who want to join in. When SAP first partnered with Fitbit this year, it subsidized Fitbits for their employees and offered discounted devices for friends and family.
Key wearable device and health care players Qualcomm, UnitedHealthcare and Fitbit are aiming to step up their corporate wellness game in a bid to offer financial incentives to get employees moving. Qualcomm, via its Qualcomm Life unit, and UnitedHealthcare at CES 2017 will outline plans to enable a bring your own wearable approach to corporate wellness plans. Qualcomm and UnitedHealthcare said they will expand UnitedHealthcare Motion, a wellness program that offers financial incentives to employees up to $1,500 a year. More: Fitbit secures corporate wellness deals with several major customers Fitbit combines corporate wellness offerings into new group health program Fitbit's challenge: Winning over Pebble developers, community According to Qualcomm Life, its technology will allow more activity trackers to be integrated into the UnitedHealthcare Motion program, which will be available in 40 states. For Fitbit, the key part of the deal is that its Charge 2 tracker will be custom integrated.
Leroy "Lee" Hood is famous for his role in the development of the first automated DNA sequencer and the establishment of systems biology. Now, his latest venture aims to monitor and predict health and disease to promote "scientific wellness" through a variety of measurements in a proposed 100,000-person wellness project: whole genome sequences; blood, saliva, urine, and stool samples taken every 3 months to measure hundreds of proteins and metabolites; and physical activity and sleep monitoring. A recently published study of Hood's 108-person pilot project collecting these data discovered something wrong in nearly every participant, such as low vitamin D levels or prediabetes. Monthly coaching helped improve some people's health during the study, prompting Hood to help launch a company called Arivale, which offers similar tracking, analysis, and coaching for a first-year subscription fee of $3499. But several doctors and scientists are unimpressed with the results.
Companies love "wellness" programs for a number of reasons. These smoking-cessation, weight-loss and disease-screening programs give workers the impression that their employers really care about their health. Ostensibly they save money, too, since a healthy workforce is cheaper to cover and less prone to absenteeism.