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Vendor Study Says Wearables Can Promote Healthy Behavior Change

Posted on November 28, 2016 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

A new study backed by a company that makes an enterprise health benefits platform has concluded that wearables can encourage healthy behavior change, and also, serve as an effective tool to engage employees in their health.

The data from the study, which was sponsored by Mountain View, CA-based Jiff, comes from a two-year research project on employer-sponsored wearables. Rajiv Leventhal, who wrote about the study for Healthcare Informatics, argues that these findings challenge common employer beliefs about these type of programs, including that participation is typically limited to young and healthy employees, and that engagement with these rules can’t be sustained over time.

The data, which was drawn from 14 large employers with 240,000 employees, apparently suggests that wearable adoption and long-term engagement is possible for employees of all ages. The company reported that among the employers offered the wearables program via its enterprise health platform, 53% of employees under 40 years old participated, and 36% of employees over 50 years participated as well.

Jiff researchers also found that employee engagement had not measurably fallen for more than nine months following the program rollout, and that for one employer, levels of engagement have been progressively increasing for more than 18 months, the company reported.

According to Jiff, they have helped sustain employee engagement by employing three tactics:  Using “challenges,” time-bound immersive and social games that encourage healthy actions, “device credits,” subsidies that offset the cost of purchasing wearables and “behavioral incentives,” rewards for taking healthy actions such as walking a minimum number of steps per day.

The thing is, as interesting as these numbers might be — and they do, if nothing else, underscore the role of engaging consumers rather than waiting for them to engage with healthier behaviors on their own — the story doesn’t address one absolutely crucial issue, to wit, what concrete health impact are companies seeing from employee use of these devices.

I don’t think I’m asking for too much here when I demand some quantitative data suggesting that the setup can actually achieve measurable health results. Everything I’ve read about employee wellness initiatives to date suggests that they’ve been a giant bust, with few if any accomplishing anything measurable.

And here we have Jiff, a venture-backed hotshot company, which I’m guessing had the resources to report on results if it found any. After all, if I understand the study right, with their researchers had access to 540,000 employees for significant amount of time.  So where are the health conclusions that can be drawn from this population?

And by the way, no, I don’t accept that patient engagement (no matter how genuine) can be used as a proxy or predictive factor for health improvement. It’s a promising step in the right direction but it isn’t the real thing yet.

So, I shared the study with you because I thought you might find it interesting. I did. But I wouldn’t take it too seriously when it comes to signs of real change — either for wearables used for employee wellness initiatives. At this point both are more smoke than substance.

SXSW Accelerator Event for Health IT Startup Companies

Posted on October 24, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Each of the past two years I’ve had a growing desire to go to SXSW. This desire has been fueled by the growing healthcare IT section of SXSW. In 2013, SXSW will have a whole campus dedicated to healthcare IT. That’s a great thing for healthcare and should make for an amazing event.

Also, of major interest to me has been the healthcare portion of the SXSW Accelerator. This is the fifth edition of the SXSW Accelerator which showcases some of the web’s most exciting innovations. The healthcare IT companies that were part of SXSW Accelerator last year are: Medify, Jiff, BodiMojo, CellScope, Simplee, Beyond Lucid Technologies, VitalClip, and Ginger.io.

For those health IT startup companies that are interested, the application deadline is Friday, November 9, and the event itself will be March 11-12, 2013 in Austin, TX. You can apply and find more information on the SXSW Accelerator page.

Past judges of the event have included Tim Draper of DFJ, Chris Hughes of Facebook and Jumo, Paul Graham of Y Combinator, Craig Newmark of Craiglist, Robert Scoble of Rackspace and Scobleizer, Jeff Pulver of 140 Conference, Chris Shipley of Demo and Guidewire, and Tom Conrad of Pandora to name a few. I’ve been honored to be part of the SXSW Accelerator board and looking at the names of who they’re planning to be involved in 2013 is impressive. Plus, I’m doing my part to make sure that healthcare IT is well represented and that the SXSW accelerator is as good a launching pad for health IT startup companies as possible.

Those companies that participate can improve their product launch, attract venture capitalists, polish their elevator pitch, receive media exposure, build brand awareness, network, socialize and experience all that SXSW Interactive has to offer.

Let me know if you’re a health IT company that applies and we’ll have to be sure to catch up at the event.