Employer gets $280K insurance discount for using Fitbits

By Jonah Comstock
09:20 am

Fitbit Flex__ColorsThe corporate wellness market is an increasingly big opportunity for activity trackers like Fitbit, but data is just now starting to come in about how much those programs really help corporations. According to a recent story in Citeworld, however, one company, San Francisco-based Appirio, has saved $280,000 in annual insurance payments by implementing a wellness program using Fitbits.

Specifically, the company convinced insurer Anthem to reduce their insurance payment by 5 percent after showing them data from a program called CloudFit, administered via Indianapolis-based Spire Wellness. With CloudFit, Appirio distributed 400 Fitbits to employees across the company. These employees could opt in to sharing some or all of their data either in a special group set up within the Fitbit app, or via Chatter, an enterprise social network connected to Salesforce. The company is working on an in-house app to aggregate the data from all their employees. 

Appirio implemented the program in the first place using a $20,000 grant from Anthem. The grant was renewed this year. The company initially launched the program with Jawbone UP bracelets, but switched to Fitbit after multiple employees complained about quickly-draining batteries or unexpected shutdowns.

Going forward, the company plans to expand the program beyond 400 employees to its whole workforce of 1,000, spread across offices in San Francisco, Indianapolis, and India. It has also recently added a second option for workouts, Google Hangouts with a personal trainer from Spire Wellness. Appirio would cover the sign up cost for employees, who would then be responsible for their own monthly payments.

While Appirio's experience shows a big financial benefit to them for using fitness trackers, it doesn't exactly constitute hard data that the activity tracker program was working for employees. Instead, it shows that they were able to inspire the confidence of an insurance company -- to the tune of $300,000.

Other data that's come out recently has come closer to quantitatively establishing the value of these programs. Last May, Humana looked at data from individuals who were users of HumanaVitality, and compared their claims data to their engagement with the program. They found that users who were not engaged with the program during the two years spent an average of $53 per month more in claims costs and had a 56.3 percent higher unexplained absence rate from work than engaged users. And in April, The Vitality Group released data that showed activity tracker users reduced their health risk factors by 22 percent.

Meanwhile, Fitbit itself is continuing to expand the market for activity trackers, going after the fashion set with a partnership with designer Tory Burch. The Tory Burch website sports two designer bracelets in printed silicone, and a brass bracelet and pendant for holding a Fitbit Flex.


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