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September 27, 2016

Wearables increase participation rates in corporate wellness programs

Corporate wellness is a very interesting market for manufacturers of wearable health devices. Over the past few years partnerships and other forms of collaboration between before disparate players have increased the importance of wearables within corporate wellness programs. Wearables increase participation rates for corporate wellness programs. However, its also a market with growing competition, believes ABI Research.

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Wearable wireless devices continue to push in to corporate wellness programs as a range of previously disparate players, from wearable device manufacturers to health insurance providers, partner, and collaborate, ABI states in its report The Role of Wearable Wireless Devices in Corporate Wellness Programs. Their combined efforts will help push more than 44 million wearable devices into wellness plans over the next five year.

$6 billion a year is spent on corporate wellness in the US alone, ABI writes. But measuring the value of that investment is challenging, according to Ryan Harbison, Research Analyst at ABI Research. “Wearable fitness device vendors, including Fitbit and FitLinxx, stepped up from just offering devices to pushing integrated wellness offerings with initiatives to drive employee engagement and provide measureable feedback from corporate program participation.”

Wearables increase participation rates

These new corporate wellness programs, often integrated with engagement tools and platforms from other players, allow employers to monitor and manage activity data in near real time so that they can provide incentive for individual, team, and company-wide activity progress. 

Early data suggests that corporate wellness programs with wearable devices increase average employee participation from 20 percent to between 60 and 70 percent, with some employers reporting participation rates above 90 percent.

But corporate wellness is also a market where device manufacturers like Fitbit are under growing competition. For example, U.S. health insurance giant UnitedHealthcare recently developed its own proprietary device leveraging Qualcomm Life’s 2net platform to deliver corporate wellness services.

Influence beyond corporate wellness

There will be a continued convergence of effort with devices bringing employee excitement to drive adoption and engagement, alongside integration into the wider corporate insurance healthcare provision. The influence of these partnerships is likely to be felt beyond just the corporate wellness market.

“Corporate wellness is a vanguard market for the integration of mHealth wearables and healthcare management,” concludes Jonathan Collins, Research Director at ABI Research. “The integrated system that delivers effective, secure and efficient data collection, analysis, and integration for wellness programs has the potential to be leveraged in a new generation of healthcare-centric patient management offerings.”

Important role wearables

In a 2015 publication on LinkedIn, Peter van Overmeir pleads for the increased use of wearables in corpoate wellness programs. Van Overmeir states that corporations are faced with increasing problems of conditions such as diabetes and obesitas, decreasing overall productivity. Corporate wellness programs are put into place more often to keep the workforce fit and healthy.

Wearables play an important role in these programs, Van Overmeir writes: ‘Being cost effective by nature, the wearable technology based corporate wellness program offers an attractive way for employers to show they care about employee health as well as increasing effectiveness of the wellness campaign by surfing on the increasing popularity of this product category.

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