One day soon, your company could hand you a fitness-tracking device as a gift.
The gift could have a sizeable payoff for the company. They could use it to track your fitness habits and, if you and your coworkers behave well, use that data to negotiate lower insurance premiums.
In fact, hot Valley startup Appirio did exactly that, reports Nancy Gohring at Citeworld. As part of a bigger corporate wellness program it calls CloudFit, Appirio handed out Fitbits to about 400 employees. And thanks to CloudFit, Appirio convinced its insurance company to lower its rates by 5%. That added up to a hefty $280,000.
CloudFit isn't just the Fitbits. It includes other things, like giving employees live video sessions with a fitness trainer via Google Hangouts.
As for the Fitbits, they were actually sort of purchased by the insurance company, too. It handed Appirio $20,000 to start a wellness program, and Appirio used that money to buy fitness bands.
Employees got to choose if they wanted to share data with the company and what data they shared. About 100 opted in. Most were OK with sharing info about how many steps they walk each day, but not about their sleep habits.
These Fitbit folks also got into a social networking group at work that urged each other to up their fitness goals. So the more they tracked their fitness, the more fitness everyone pursued.
Appirio is in the business of writing cloud apps for enterprises, particularly in the healthcare industry. So it wrote an app to aggregate everyone's Fitbit data as part of CloudFit and that's the data it used to convinced the insurance company to lower its price.
For companies that won't write their own app: Fitbit actually offers an employee wellness app to companies who buy fleets of devices for workers.
And Appirio isn't alone, either. BP America is doing a similar thing on a broader scale. In 2013, it bought Fitbits for 14,000 employees, 6,000 spouses, and 4,000 retirees in 2013 as part of a corporate wellness program, Forbes recently reported.
How much can everyone save? A lot. After insurance company Cigna did a fitness band pilot program, it told healthcare market research firm The Advisor Board it thinks employers could save 13% a year.
Thanks to provisions in the Affordable Care Act, which offers companies incentives for implementing wellness programs, and savings like that, more companies may try similar programs.
There are risks. This could become a pretty big intrusion in employee privacy, where a company nags employees, or penalizes them somehow, for not exercising or taking care of chronic illnesses. But then again, that could also lead to a healthier life.
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