Wearable tech in wellness programs increasing

More and more, employers are turning to the incorporation of wearable technology in wellness programs for employees.

That’s according to the Employer Guide to Wearables 2.0 from employer-facing health intelligence platform Springbuk. The three-part study reviews key preferences, features and implementation considerations of employers for wearables in corporate wellness programs.


In fact, use of such devices is up 10 percent from 2015 findings, with 35 percent of employers now using wearables in their workplace wellness program. Companies are turning to wearables not just to furnish participation and engagement data, the findings say, but also to make wellness programs more effective in lowering health risk and improving health outcomes.

Close to half of employer respondents — 48.6 percent — are considering purchasing devices for their employee population over the next twelve months, whether as a replacement for existing devices or a first-time purchase. And 60 percent cite “app usability” as the most important feature.

But because employers often have multiple vendors to deal with in a wellness program, other factors they consider important are connectivity between various wellness initiatives—prompting the study to consider “sync with a wellness vendor” in addition to other major features such as “long battery life” and “employer-facing dashboard.”

In its review of wearables, the study considers 21 different devices from 8 different manufacturers. Devices were tested to evaluate, among other criteria, each one’s user community; its ability to provide comprehensive reporting to employers; and what kind of overall experience it provides for the employee, including the device user experience, the app experience and the ability of the device to fit in with the life of the employee.

The five top-scoring devices are, in order, the Fitbit Blaze (scoring 94 out of a possible 100); the Garmin Vivoactive HR (89/100); the Fitbit Charge 2 and Fitbit Surge (86/100); the Samsung Gear S3 and Garmin Vivosmart HR (85/100); and the Samsung Gear S2 (83/100).

More than half of employer respondents (54.6 percent) say their workplace wellness program is “metrics driven,” with the common metrics tracked including changes in health risk (62 percent), financial impact (58 percent) and improvements in clinical outcomes (53 percent). And they’re using the metrics and data from wearables, the report says, to build better, more effective programs; 44.1 percent of employers are using wearable device data in the strategic planning of their wellness programs.

“We’re seeing more employers turn to wearables not only to provide participation and engagement data, but increasingly to help move the needle on effectiveness of wellness programs in lowering health risk and improving health outcomes,” Rod Reasen, chief executive officer of Springbuk, says in a statement. Reasen adds, “The data provided by wearables can also create actionable insights about how to invest your wellness dollars next year.”



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