New wearables options for UnitedHealthcare customers

New wearables options for UnitedHealthcare customers

US healthcare company UnitedHealthcare is incorporating new wearables into its Motion wellness programme, with help from Qualcomm Life. 

Participants in UnitedHealthcare Motion, a national wellness programme open to employers with self-funded and fully insured health plans in the US, have collectively walked more than 130 million steps and earned more than $19 million in rewards since the plan was launched in 2016.

Now, they will have a wider range of tracking devices to choose from, with the announcement that UnitedHealthcare and Qualcomm Incorporated, through its subsidiary Qualcomm Life, have integrated new wearables from Samsung and Garmin into the programme.

Read more: Healthcare applications to drive wearable device boom

Watch your F.I.T levels

According to UnitedHealthcare, around 66 percent of participants enrolled in the Motion program register their devices, and of these, a similar proportion stay active with the program for more than one year. This enables them to earn up to $4 per day in financial incentives, based on the program’s so-called ‘F.I.T’ goals. These are:

  • Frequency – 500 steps within seven minutes in six separate periods during the day;
  • Intensity – 3,000 steps within 30 minutes;
  • Tenacity – 10,000 total steps each day.

The Samsung Gear Fit2Pro and Gear Sport, along with the Garmin Vivosmart 3 have been integrated and validated with Qualcomm Life’s 2net platform for medical-grade connectivity.

These trackers, which are available to plan participants at no additional charge or through upgrade options that enable people to purchase leading activity trackers at preferred prices, have been customized to enable users to see on their wrists how they are tracking against the program’s three daily F.I.T. goals.

According to UnitedHealthcare, research suggests that people who consistently achieve the F.I.T. goals tend to improve their health and reduce their medical expenses – but many of us overestimate how much exercise we get each week by more than 50 minutes, and underestimate sedentary time by more than two hours, hence the need for wearable fitness trackers and cold, hard data. 

Read more: US health insurer Aetna considers Apple Watch partnership

Adding to Fitbit and Striiv

The new activity trackers are available to Unitedhealthcare Motion participants via a dedicated website, along with previously available trackers from Fitbit and Striiv.

“The enhancements to UnitedHealthcare Motion enable the program to offer companies and their employees more digital health and wellness resources that are personalized, connected and intuitive,” said Sam Ho, MD, chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare. “We are expanding the portfolio of available devices to make UnitedHealthcare Motion more flexible, convenient and consumer friendly.”

US employers are expected to incorporate more than 13 million wearable and fitness tracking devices into their wellness programs by 2018, according to technology consultancy Endeavors Partners. 

Read more: Bank of America, FitPay partner to speed up wearable payments