Health insurance giant UnitedHealthcare has expanded its wearable device wellness program from 12 to 40 states nationwide and will now include access to additional customized activity trackers under a bring-your-own-device model.
Launched last year as a pilot in 12 states to select employers, the wellness program—called UnitedHealthcare Motion—provides employees enrolled in fully insured or self-funded health plans with the ability to earn financial incentives of as much as $1,500 per year for meeting activity goals. The program is now available to self-funded employers with five or more eligible employees, and companies with fully insured health plans with 101 or more eligible employees.
Qualcomm Life, a subsidiary of wireless vendor Qualcomm, is UnitedHealthcare’s technology partner for the program. Qualcomm Life’s HIPAA-compliant 2net Platform, an FDA-listed Class I Medical Device Data System, enables that more activity trackers can be integrated to provide program participants with access to popular wearable brands and increased choices, according to James Mault, MD, vice president and chief medical officer at Qualcomm Life.
“The digital disruption of healthcare is imminent, and this is really the first health plan that has reached prime time, based on the data generated by wearable devices,” says Mault, who adds that the 2net Platform leveraged by the UnitedHealthcare Motion wellness program ensures medical-grade connectivity while keeping data secure and supporting third-party activity trackers.
“We basically refined the hardware specifications for the wearable devices and the software specifications,” he notes.
Fitbit Charge 2 will be the newest activity tracker integrated and validated with the 2net Platform as part of UnitedHealthcare Motion. The custom feature, enabling users to see on their wrists how they are tracking against the program’s three fitness goals, can be available for activation in early 2017 on any commercially available Charge 2 device by any eligible program participant.
At the same time, Mault says employees that don’t have an activity tracker receive a “default” wearable device at no additional charge through UnitedHealthcare Motion. “That device is still a part of the program,” he adds. “If they want to buy a Fitbit Charge 2, then they’ll get essentially a credit towards the purchase.”
According to Mault, a heart surgeon, there’s a lot of information about a person’s health that can be gleaned from their movements. He says that frequency (six times per day with 300 steps within five minutes at least one hour apart), intensity (3,000 steps within 30 minutes), and tenacity (10,000 total steps each day) are the program’s goals—F.I.T. for short.
“This program works. Employees love it. Employers love it. And, it’s now rolling out nationwide in 40 states,” Mault concludes.
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