Jiff reveals first partners for digital health employee marketplace

By Jonah Comstock

Jiff Image1Mobile health startup Jiff has announced the first batch of ecosystem partners for its new health outcomes marketplace. Jiff has officially announced and integrated with Fitbit, Jawbone, Fitbug, Withings, BodyMedia, Fatsecret, and CaloryGuard, and is in conversations with more than 60 additional digital health app and device companies, according to CEO Derek Newell.

"Our goal is to have at least 250 [companies] in the digital health ecosystem by the middle of next year," he told MobiHealthNews. "And hopefully thousands by the middle of 2015." The company also confirmed in a blog post this morning that Red Bull is one of the first customers for the fledgling platform.

The eventual goal of the Health Outcomes Marketplace is for Jiff to work with employers to create customized platforms for employees where employees can choose between digital health and fitness apps and devices, then purchase the app or device of their choice with money from their employer. Data on the daily use of different apps and devices will be collected by Jiff and funneled back to employers, so that as the marketplace continues, employers' choices about what to offer can be more and more outcomes-based.

"The Jiff platform, what we've said is: We're not the solution," Newell said. "Jiff isn't trying to build another corporate wellness company. We're not more likely than any other wellness company to figure it out. We think if we put employers' money into the digital health ecosystem, applications, devices, and services will emerge that will really move the needle. Virgin or StayWell are not going to figure it out. But the thousands of devices emerging will figure it out."

At first, the focus of the ecosystem will be on physical activity, food, and weight loss apps, Newell said. The company's next priority will be sleep and stress, and then medical conditions, probably starting with diabetes and hypertension.

"We're following what the market wants," he said. "There's a maturation of the ecosystem that has to happen."

Putting different tracking devices onto one platform also allows employers, through Jiff, to run social wellness challenges and competitions even if employees are all tracking with different devices. Jiff is launching Challenges, the social aspect of its platform, with Red Bull employees.

"One of the problems of everybody having their own device is, none of them connect to each other on a social level," Newell said. "They all live in social silos. We allow employes to create social networks and game applications that are a meta-layer above their apps or devices."

Employers can run regular challenges and leaderboards, or a host of other competition formats based on reality TV shows like the Biggest Loser or Survivor, or "fantasy fitness," where employees can pick a team of participants and add up their activity or weight loss statistics. In addition to motivating employees through challenges, Jiff will work with partners, through its partner Towers Watson, to create incentive and benefit structures for employees who make use of the apps in the digital health ecosystem.

Jiff will make some of its money by charging a licensing fee to its customers, but Newell says it's priced considerably lower than a traditional corporate wellness program. The other two revenue streams are taking a cut of purchases in Jiff's in-app store and taking a cut of any bonus payments the employer gets for driving health outcomes.

"We want millions of people using this company within two years," he said. "A million people by January 1, 2015. It is ... based on using analytics to figure out what's working and what's not working. There's no point in making the price point high because the goal is to have more people on the platform."

Newell said the main advantage of the ecosystem approach over traditional corporate wellness programs is it skirts the problematic "one size fits all" approach to health.

"We think when winners emerge, it won't be a weight loss winner, it'll be 'Wow, there's somebody who does weight loss really well for women, and this one for men'," he said. "Solutions will emerge that segment the population and work incredibly well for different kinds of people. And that's why employers need a solution that will allow them to access a broad range of things in the ecosystem."