Mayo Clinic to use connected devices in new employee wellness offering

By Jonah Comstock
03:00 am

Screen Shot 2013-06-17 at 6.02.19 PMMayo Clinic announced last week a new online platform called Mayo Clinic Healthy Living that will leverage mobile health tools to provide preventative care to employees of Mayo's B2B employer clients. The company plans to launch the product in October.

"The clinic is a great setting, it's really great for complex medical problems, but for the majority of the population that has no significant chronic problems, it's not the best place to take care of health," Dr. Philip Hagen, medical director of the Mayo Clinic's Healthy Living online program told MobiHealthNews in an interview. "I think that the tools and the techniques of the mobile health world are the ones that have brought us to the point where we can do something like an onsite visit, but through digital tools."

Mayo Clinic has partnered with a number of digital health companies recently, including backing recently-launched startup Better. The company is also running a number of mobile health pilots including Preventice's BodyGuardian system, Mayo Clinic helped develop, and the Sessions coaching platform. The organization is also providing patient education content for iPad EHR maker DrChrono.

The new program will combine content from the Mayo Clinic with engagement tools from Everyday Health. The product will use mobile health tools like connected sensors to improve on the traditional health risk assessment. Users will be able to upload data from an as-yet-unnamed connected activity tracker as part of the process of filling out the assessment. The plan is also for employees to be able to track their sleep with another not-yet-revealed device. Hagen said the company is not naming device brands at the moment, but hopes to be able to work with a range of devices.

As part of the offering, Mayo will provide the option of bringing employees in to their Rochester, Minnesota site for an immersive wellness assessment. But whether they come in or not, Hagen said, the assessment and follow-up, using mobile tools, will be the same.

"We'll offer a similar analog for the people who never set foot in the place," he said. "The advantage to face to face is the hands-on skill building. But we think the digital tools are good enough now that we can capture a lot of that at a distance."

The online platform will include a challenge platform for team-based and peer-to-peer competitions data as well as programs for weight management, physical activity, nutrition, resiliency, stress, sleep, tobacco use and preventive services. Employers will be able to tailor the offerings to their particular employee populations. Mayo Clinic Healthy Living will follow up with employees to track their progress.

"Our intent is to work with a number of these different technologies," said Hagen. "We're looking to include blood pressure cuffs, connected scales, and glucometers. The more a person has to enter in by hand, the less likely they are to stick with it. So the extent that the device can download that, the better off we are."

Hagen, a specialist in preventive medicine, stressed the impact wellness programs can have for employers.

"For the past 15 years we have been working hard on developing tools to help companies, including our own, keep their employees healthy," he said. "And we know from the research that's being done that, while healthcare costs are high, the costs are at least as high in lost productivity and absenteeism as the actual direct medical costs. So it's a double whammy."

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