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It’s no secret; health insurance costs are a serious problem for a large number of U.S. citizens and employers. Wearable Health Tech offers the potential to lower these costs by providing more information about individuals and communities as a whole. Small experiments have been carried out by individual employers and other groups, but now some of the big guns are getting involved in a big way.

At the HIMSS Conference in Las Vegas this week, two big organizations announced a collaboration to develop connected health solutions for consumers and employers in the U.S. UnitedHealthCare is a health insurance company that provides services for individuals, employers, and retirees, working with more than 1 million doctors and other healthcare professionals in 6,000 hospitals and other facilities. They are working with Qualcomm Life, a subsidiary of Qualcomm which is a company that develops wireless and other technologies used in everything from smartphones to car navigation systems.

These two very large companies will start by using Qualcomm’s 2net Connectivity Platform to support UnitedHealthCare’s “Motion” program. This is available “on a select” basis for employers with 101 to 300 employees. The employees and their covered spouses will receive custom activity trackers that will monitor the number of steps the subject takes during the day. Employees will be eligible to earn up to $1,460 a year in healthcare credits based on their activity. Combined results for employees can result in lower insurance premiums for their employers as well.

The joint press release did not provide details about how many companies will be invited to participate in the Motion program, how the credits will be awarded, or other information. Clearly, this is an effort to scale the benefits of wearable Health Tech devices to monitor activity, and to lay the groundwork for other types of tracking and incentives. We will watch the progress of this program closely. #ns