BioBeats signs distribution agreement with UK insurer AXA

By Jonah Comstock
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London-based BioBeats has signed a distribution agreement with European health insurer AXA PPP that will put its app, Hear and Now, into the hands of tens of thousands of employees at companies like JP Morgan and KPMC.

"Hear and Now" is designed to help employees cope with work stress. It monitors a user’s heart rate and respiration while providing the user with mindful breathing exercises to complete. The app is designed to ease a user’s anxiety or stress, but also to collect data that can be used for deidentified population-level wellness monitoring as well as for research into the links between stress and chronic disease. The group published a paper in January on the link between stress and heart disease.

BioBeats CEO Dr. David Plans says the distribution agreement does two things for the company.

“One is revenue for us,” he told MobiHealthNews. “We’ve finally entered the market full force and we have guaranteed revenue and that means we survive, which is no small measure of achievement for a startup of our size. But the second thing it does is it gives us a way to scale the findings that we published in January in the Journal of Human Neuroscience. For us, it’s groundbreaking because we can now validate assumptions and prove hypotheses about the link we’ve seen in cardiovascular health that no one has ever amassed data of this size on, not in real time. It’s a fantastic opportunity just from the machine learning perspective.”

BioBeats' relationship with AXA isn't new. The insurer was involved in an early pilot study of the company's algorithms and its investment arm, AXA Strategic Ventures, is also a BioBeats backer.

AXA PPP Head of Proposition Simon Miller said in a statement that the deal is a win-win for BioBeats and the employees AXA covers.

“AXA’s corporate wellness strategy is to change the way employers help their employees to manage their health and wellbeing,” he said. “BioBeats Hear and Now app is pioneering a new era of preventive health where real-time physical and psychological data will enable us to provide individuals with unprecedented insights into and opportunities to improve and maintain their health and wellbeing. Employers will benefit too, with access to anonymized workforce stress data enabling them to shape more effectively their strategies for improving employee wellness, job satisfaction and performance and, in turn, better manage sickness absence, presenteeism, and productivity.”

Plans said that BioBeats is also working on adding more biomarkers for the app to use to guage employees’ stress levels. For instance, they are exploring brain reaction testing based on executive function tests, carried out through Apple’s ResearchKit platform.