Humana is building apps at a dedicated, Silicon Valley-inspired lab

By Jonah Comstock
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CueWatch Humana's Cue app.

A new lab at Humana is dedicated to making sure HumanaVitality and other apps from the insurance giant have the same nimble development protocols as apps developed at a small startup would. A Wall Street Journal report this week offered a peek at the work being done at the Digital Experience Center that Humana launched last fall.

The new space houses 11 full-time employees and supports four more who work remotely, but could hold up to 40, according to an Insider Louisville story from last year. They work in teams of two at shared workstations with breaks for ping-pong. The launch of the center corresponded with a Humana partnership with Pivotal Labs, a group that helps large companies learn agile software development. 

The main project at the new center is HumanaVitality, a Humana software that has been through a lot of iterations since its 2011 launch. It was originally launched in partnership with South African company Vitality, and was a web-based rewards program based on the user's "Vitality Age". Humana bought health engagement startup Healthrageous to build out the platform in fall 2013, and last fall it finally launched an app. The rewards aspect is still part of the program, as is the Vitality Age, but the mobile app adds activity tracker integration, step competitions, and healthy habit challenges.

Lately, the company has shown more investment in the app, including more regular updates and an integration with Weight Watchers that the company added in February.

In addition to HumanaVitality, the Digital Experience Center team was likely responsible for Cue, the Apple Watch-enabled app Humana launched last Friday. Cue encourages users to do small things to build healthy habits, like drink water, focus on breathing, focus on posture, get up and move, go outside for some fresh air, and stretch. It's notable because, unlike HumanaVitality, it's available to anyone, not just Humana members.

“Cue leverages the latest technology to simplify getting healthy,” Bruce Broussard, President and CEO of Humana, said in a statement. “The app demonstrates Humana’s dedication to people’s health and shows how we’re applying our experience and knowledge of consumers to benefit their well-being.”