Jiff pivots to employee wellness curation

By Jonah Comstock
04:00 am

Jiff HOMMobile health startup Jiff, best known for its JiffPad patient education platform, has announced a partnership with Towers Watson and a pivot from provider-focused patient engagement to business-to-business employee wellness curation, with a service called Health Outcomes Marketplace.

Even when Jiff raised $7.5 million in March 2012, it noted in a press release that JiffPad was just one component of its overall strategy.

"Since the beginning, the founders' goal was to bring what they had learned in social networking and gaming to healthcare, and they always thought they would do that through the development of a platform," Jiff CEO Derek Newell told MobiHealthNews. "[JiffPad] was downloaded by thousands of people and used regularly by them. But JiffPad, while an interesting product, was never going to transfer to a big opportunity."

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CEO Derek Newell told MobiHealthNews that JiffPad and Health Outcomes Marketplace are both different outgrowths of a core concept, which officially launched today: a back-end platform for building digital health applications.

The Health Outcomes Marketplace is a customized app that Jiff can build for an employer, which allows their employees to choose from among a curated marketplace of wellness programs. The service is being developed on the Jiff platform in partnership with Towers Watson, a global professional services company. Newell said this will address an existing disconnect in the employee wellness field.

"Let's just say I'm a large employer and I have 100,000 employees," Newell said. "Fitbit comes to me, Nike comes to me, I'm just getting attacked by new entrants into the corporate wellness space that want to help me and I can't partner with them all. It's too complex. I need reports. I need to show my boss things are working. And these companies don't have experience showing me outcomes. And if I want to partner with one of them, I have to give everyone a Fitbit, and maybe some people already have another device or don't want a Fitbit. So what I do normally is I hire a third party vendor that doesn't take advantage of any of that, and then everybody's unhappy."

Jiff's marketplace curates digital health services for different health areas, such as weight loss, activity tracking, diabetes, hypertension, and stress and wellbeing. For weight loss, for instance, the app might allow employees at a single company to choose between spending their health benefit money on a Fitbit, a Jawbone UP, or a Nike+ Fuelband. The platform might recommend they download an app like Runkeeper or LoseIt!. The employee can then set a weight loss goal, which if they stay on track, can allow them to make the money back which they can spend on other health interventions. Meanwhile, the partner companies like Fitbit and Runkeeper will send their data back to the Jiff app -- allowing employers to track whether employees are achieving their goals, and also providing Jiff with aggregate data they can use to curate the different services.

"We're very willing to work with anybody," Newell said. "What employees want and what we want is the applications and services that produce the best outcomes. We have some hints, but we don't know what works. So part of it is getting a wide variety of partners on the platform and learning collectively as an ecosystem what's working and what isn't. ... If [companies] aren't producing outcomes, their ranking will go down and they'll stop showing up on the list."

The marketplace will also include some more traditional employee wellness functionality, including social networking and engaging in challenges with other employees on the same platform.

Newell said Jiff will be announcing its partners soon, but a couple potential partners showed up in the demo the company showed to the press. Fitbit, Withings, Runkeeper, and Walk with Friends were all visible. Newell also told MobiHealthNews the company has been in discussions with Red Bull to be one of the first employers to use the platform.


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