The Fitbit Inspire is a brand new health and fitness tracker, and Fitbit’s been making them for many years. However, this model won’t be available to consumers directly. Fitbit has introduced an exclusive activity and sleep tracker that consumers can only get through their health plan or employers who’ve signed up with Fitbit.
“The idea behind it is that Fitbit is going to partner with health insurance providers or corporations, who would then buy these fitness devices and provide them to their employees as a way to incentivize healthier living. This would reduce their healthcare costs because, if you have healthier employees who take care of themselves, there will be fewer healthcare claims and the company’s overall healthcare costs would go down. This is basically a way for large corporations, or even small corporations, to incentivize employees to live healthier lives,” according to Luis Alvarez from Alvarez Technology Group, a Salinas IT Services Company.
There is a new carrot and stick approach to healthcare in large corporations. For example, if an employee normally pays $100 a month for health insurance, but they become a smoker, the new rate would be $200. Spouses who smoke might not be eligible for coverage at all.
Another example of this philosophy attaches a low premium to specific health goals and if you don’t achieve them in the first quarter of the year, your premium can go up by 35 percent.
According to CNBC news, Fitbit’s performance on the stock market has been less than fit. The wearable fitness tracker manufacturer has found the consumer market challenging since the release of the Apple Watch and China’s Xiaomi offering have run away with large swathes of market share. Fitbit’s stock has plummeted to below 68 percent of its 2015 IPO price, and the company had posted two years of losses prior to October of 2018. For this and other reasons, the company needed to suss out a new market, and they may have just hit the right one — thanks to the increasing popularity of gamification in employee healthcare.
Gameplay focuses attention on a single goal. It’s something that appeals to an innate sense of competition. That makes it an ideal tool to help change behavior for better health, according to The Medical Futurist. Gamifying wearable tech does more than push data like your vital signs and sleep patterns to an app on your phone. It also sends it to your company benefits manager, who compares the performance of teams and individuals. It can be a great motivator for some but may be considered invasive by others. After all, what if there are health conditions employees don’t want their coworkers to know about?
Despite the privacy quandary, gamification is already being implemented by corporate benefits teams.
“That’s very typical of large corporations right now because they’ve been continually hit with large healthcare premiums and they recognize the only way to stop this is to get their people to start taking care of themselves better. In fact, a lot of companies self-insure, so they pay all the healthcare costs and bills for their employees. The Fitbit Inspire program, along with gamification where different people in the office compete with each other, results in a healthier workforce.” Alvarez said
“The Fitbit Inspire is waterproof up to 30 or 40 feet. That makes it safe to wear while doing laps in the pool and exercising but not to go scuba diving,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez Technology Group, Inc.
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