At the MedCity ENGAGE Conference last week, Brad Kirkpatrick, the President of the employer and government market at Healthways, Inc., “made a point that I haven’t heard in a discussion about corporate wellness programs. He said that companies have to build consumer-grade solutions that people value and that meets them where they are at that moment in time.”
It’s unfortunate that Brad has not been hanging out at the Wellable office lately because this philosophy and approach had been one of the pillars of the Wellable program from day one. The best way to embrace “consumer-grade solutions” is to integrate with tested and proven consumer technologies, which includes embracing a diverse set of health and wellness apps and devices. As Brad highlighted, consumer-grade solutions meet people where they are, which means they provide delightful user experiences, embrace mobile wellness, and consider the preferences and uniqueness of each individual. Though these benefits result in higher engagement and improved ROI, many traditional vendors still do not embrace consumer technologies.
Embracing consumer technologies requires a lot of commitment and has large impacts on legacy businesses, which is why so many traditional vendors tend to do more talking than walking when it comes to health and wellness consumerism. Traditional vendors have already invested millions of dollars into proprietary wellness portals, mobile apps, and wearable devices. These technologies generate lots of money (Virgin makes more profit selling the Max than reselling a Fitbit) and creates the perception of “exclusive” value. In regard to the latter, having a proprietary technology, even if it is built consumer first, is designed to make human resource and other wellness professionals think that they can only achieve lofty results proclaimed by a vendor through a solution that can only be obtained through them. If a proprietary technology was truly the next big thing since sliced bread, the company would be better off going straight to consumers like leading consumer technologies do, such as Fitbit and RunKeeper.
Wellable’s approach is to embrace “consumer-grade” in its truest sense by integrating with the best of breed consumer technologies and having those solutions command the user experience. This includes not trying to fight for the attention of users who own a Fitbit after they connect their device to Wellable. Many programs have included Fitbit integrations, including Healthways, but they still want to control the user experience after a user connects his or her device, and that user experience is not part of a consumer technology – it is an enterprise software platform that a company bought and the quality and outcomes are different.