Mobile apps support customer, payer wellness

Digital health trackers and fitness apps are becoming a key part of wellness programming, as health insurers use previously-unavailable data from them to promote healthy lifestyle customer habits. Enabled by the mobile devices people carry, insurers are moving past gym membership subsidies to create meaningful, customer-specific wellness incentives. These may include premium reductions of up to 30 percent, reported The Huffington Post.

For the first time, customers motivated to exercise have a specific monetary trigger to pursue and an incentive that builds with each step they take, the Huffington Post noted. For example, a customer using a jogging app can record the number of miles she runs, and her insurer can offer per-mile premium discounts based on jogging difficulty, frequency and the number of miles covered.

"In just two years the number of sensors and monitors that surround the average consumer during every minute of every day has skyrocketed," according to The Globe and Mail. Fitness monitors have become cheap and user-friendly, as previously unconnected devices like scales and refrigerators link with them to bring a wealth of actionable data to insurers.

Moreover, as diet, exercise and wellness apps have become wildly popular with customers and insurers alike, the use of mobile apps that promote healthy behaviors is growing into a "global phenomenon," according to The Globe.

Embracing this phenomenon, United Healthcare has developed award-winning mobile offerings to engage members in their health, the insurer announced yesterday. For example, United's Health4Me mobile app was recognized for addressing critical care issues, as well as its NOT ME diabetes prevention program that helps customers at risk for developing type 2 diabetes lose weight and exercise.

"These personalized resources from UnitedHealthcare make it easier to navigate and better understand the health care system, enabling people to play a greater role in their health and well-being," Jeff Alter, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Employer & Individual, said in the announcement.

Some insurers also are looking to mobile enablement as a vehicle for corporate financial wellness, with Aetna, for instance, expecting mobile apps to generate $1.5 billion in revenues next year.

For more:
- read the Globe and Mail article
- here's the Huffington Post article
- see the UnitedHealth announcement

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