UnitedHealthcare, Qualcomm Life, Fitbit aim to expand corporate wellness

At CES 2017, UnitedHealthcare and Qualcomm Life will expand a program that dangles dollars for steps. Fitbit Charge 2 will have custom features for participants as corporate wellness moves toward BYOD.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Key wearable device and health care players Qualcomm, UnitedHealthcare and Fitbit are aiming to step up their corporate wellness game in a bid to offer financial incentives to get employees moving.

Qualcomm, via its Qualcomm Life unit, and UnitedHealthcare at CES 2017 will outline plans to enable a bring your own wearable approach to corporate wellness plans. Qualcomm and UnitedHealthcare said they will expand UnitedHealthcare Motion, a wellness program that offers financial incentives to employees up to $1,500 a year.

More: Fitbit secures corporate wellness deals with several major customers | Fitbit combines corporate wellness offerings into new group health program | Fitbit's challenge: Winning over Pebble developers, community

According to Qualcomm Life, its technology will allow more activity trackers to be integrated into the UnitedHealthcare Motion program, which will be available in 40 states.

For Fitbit, the key part of the deal is that its Charge 2 tracker will be custom integrated. As previously noted, Fitbit has focused heavily on integrating into the healthcare system and becoming a key participant in corporate wellness programs.

The upshot here is that Qualcomm and UnitedHealthcare are including more wearable devices just as multiple players are now struggling. Fitbit bought the intellectual property and software of Pebble. Nokia bought Withings and Fossil acquired Misfit. Once the consolidation is taken into account, the corporate wellness game is likely to include the likes of Apple and Fitbit with other giants such as Google and Microsoft.

The win for Fitbit is that its Charge 2 will get a jump on rivals. UnitedHealthcare, which launched a pilot of its Motion program in 2016 to target companies with more than 101 employees, is building on Qualcomm Life's 2net Platform for "medical grade connectivity" with data security tools.

What remains to be seen with UnitedHealthcare Motion is how the financial incentives enable healthier workers. Devices in the Motion program enable employees to earn $4 a day in deductable credits if they hit 300 steps within five minutes six times a day, go 3,000 steps in 30 minutes and top 10,000 total steps a day.

Trackers in the program will have custom metrics to see how they stack up with UnitedHealthcare's three goals: Frequency, intensity and tenacity.

Fitbit's custom features in the Charge 2 can be enabled in early 2017 for anyone in the UnitedHealthcare program. In a statement, Fitbit CEO James Park said the customer integration with UnitedHealthcare and Qualcomm Life is a first for its company.

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