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chrysmith99 was last seen:
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    Fitness equipment supports health care

    Many employers are embedding wearable fitness-tracking apparatus in workplace wellness programs.

    From simple measure counters to sophisticated sensors that capture activity levels, heart rate and sleep routines, wearables have become a favorite tool to promote healthy lifestyles, get more tips

    Jessica Grossmeier, vice president of research in the Health Enhancement Research Organization in Edina, Minnesota, said employers that incorporate wearables into strong, year-round wellness programs are seeing powerful employee involvement.


    Fitbit Charge 2
    "They are saying,'Oh my goodness, this really gave our (wellness) program elevator,'" explained Ms. Grossmeier, who also is CEO of Verity Analytics.

    HERO's 2015 Wearables at Wellness survey found that 46 percent of companies offer some type of workout tracker as part of a wellness program. Of these, half or more said they offer you the devices to raise users' physical activity (94%) and wholesome habits (62 percent ), boost employee engagement (77%), and add fun and excitement to wellness initiatives (58%).

    Wearable device manufacturers like Fitbit Inc. and Garmin Ltd. are part of their company wellbeing area, but other gamers also are entering the marketplace. You can find out about the products of fitbit here

    Back in March, insurance giant UnitedHealthcare Inc. and tech partner Qualcomm Inc. introduced UnitedHealthcare Motion, a wellness program constructed around bespoke fitness trackers. Employees enrolled in the insurer's high-deductible health programs can earn around $1,460 annual financial incentives for meeting daily walking goals as tracked by the apparatus. The data is sent to an app via a platform that complies with national patient solitude and security conditions. A smartphone app that syncs with all the fitness tracker will allow iPhone and Android users to track their walking effects and financial incentives.

    A spokesman for UnitedHealthcare said the program is available to businesses with 10 to 500 employees and that the insurer intends to expand it to larger employers later this year.

    Wellness programs are about providing personalized support for employees and their families within their well-being journeys, and"wearables feed in that," said LuAnn Heinen, vice president of workforce well-being, productivity and human capital at the National Business Group on Health in Washington. "They make health social and fun."

    Some companies provide wearables free of charge. Others subsidize them or invite workers to bring their own fitness device.

    Atlanta's Emory University and Emory Healthcare, hospital and clinic program piloted a Fitbit tracker in five sites in 2014 through an eight-week Move More Challenge. Employees received a simple variant of the device for free with the option to"buy up" to a more sophisticated model, said Michael Staufacker, manager of health administration at Emory University.

    The test, however, found a big hole: 14 percent of workers who obtained the freebie never bothered to sync it to the manufacturer's website or cellular program. In contrast, only 4% of workers who updated never utilized the device. Here is source

    Together with the entire rollout this past year, Emory offered eligible employees a $30 subsidy to buy the Fitbit of his or her choice, with the employee paying the rest of the cost.

    "Having a little skin in the game appears to have an influence," Mr. Staufacker said.

    Most employers hire an external party to collect and manage personal health information generated by the wearable apparatus, experts state. The information provided to employers does not identify workers.

    But employers also must know about what information the devices accumulate, who has access to it and how it may be used, said Joseph Lazzarotti, a principal in the Morristown, New Jersey, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. and co-lead of the law firm's solitude, e-communication and information security practice. Without proper program designs and safeguards, companies may inadvertently breach many data security and nondiscrimination laws, he said.

    "All these (health ) applications sit at the crossroads of a good deal of different legislation," and wearables add a second layer of potential threat, '' he said.

    Employers can tie biometric data in wearables to incentives in health programs, but the applications must comply with fresh U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission rules which restrict the incentives spouses and employees receive and ensure data is kept confidential,''

    Mr. Lazzarotti explained.

    Employers"still have to go through the hoops" to make sure that wellness plans comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and also Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, he said.

    Employers must also ask apparatus manufacturers whether they have appropriate protections in place to make sure the data is protected, he added. Fitbit Inc., for example, announced last September that its corporate wellness offering complies with privacy and security rules under the medical insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

    Employers and wearable providers have yet another continuing challenge: how to sustain employee interest when the novelty of logging daily measures wears off.

    "Individuals engage with a device, and then they sort of hit a wall because they are not learning anything new," said Rhett Woods, chief creative officer in the San Francisco office of Rally Health Inc., a digital wellness firm whose insurance customers run wellness programs for companies.

    Last September, Target Corp. doled free and discounted Fitbits to its 335,000 U.S. workers and issued gym struggles. It set up $1 million to contribute to the winning group's favorite charity as an incentive.

    Team-based struggles"create a lot more stickiness" because everyone's in it said Mr. Woods. "If there is no defined action round the wearable device, then it's up to everybody to determine how it fits into their life."

    Though some employees might be more engaged in minding their health, experts say it's too soon to say whether wearables enhance health program results.

    Emory, for one, is looking to future battles. Under consideration: a $30 Fitbit subsidy for partners or spouses this past year.

    For 2017, it's weighing credits to participants' health savings account, health program deductibles or coinsurance, Mr. Staufacker explained.

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