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Insurers turn to wearable tech to nudge people towards healthier living

Insurers turn to wearable tech to nudge people towards healthier living

Tanned and with a wide grin, Wayne Gono, aged 64, may be one of the oldest people at his family business Regal Plastics — but he and his wife regularly top the employers’ leaderboard for taking the most steps. The Texan business was one of the first to embrace a programme offered by United Healthcare, its health insurer, which uses devices such as the Apple Watch to push members into more physical activity. 
“My wife and I, since we are the elders in the company, try to stay in the top five. I can say to the others, I’m one of the oldest guys here and I’m kicking your butt!” he says laughing. 

As well as the satisfaction of a win over colleagues, members get cash if they meet three targets: frequency of movement — getting up and walking for small periods often; intensity — at least one burst of 3,000 steps in 30 minutes; and tenacity, completing 10,000 steps in a day. Meeting each goal helps members earn between $1 and $3. 

Gono says he has earned about half his deductible back by keeping active, saving money on the amount he pays out of pocket for medical care each year. He puts the extra cash straight into a “vacation fund” for taking his kids and grandchildren on holiday. 

Health insurers are turning to wearable devices including the Apple Watch and Fitbit wristbands to encourage employees to engage with their own health — long before they fall ill. They hope that by harnessing technology companies’ expertise in how to change behavior, they will deliver daily nudges that make people healthier and — down the line — save costs.

Read more of this article on the Financial Times website  HERE