- Fitness tracking devices may help make employees healthier and deliver ROI, according to cost savings and health impact for two Fitbit Group Health customers.
- In one case, employees of a large, self-insured (anonymous) employer with over 20,000 employees who opted into their Fitbit-based corporate wellness program incurred 24.5% less per person on average in total annual healthcare costs than a control group.
- Fitbit also announced results from another employer, Dayton Regional Transit Authority, which determined that their Fitbit corporate wellness program demonstrated $2.3 million in employer cost savings and healthy outcomes for program participants in a pilot program. Here, apart from cost savings, improvement in health outcomes included an average decrease in LDL cholesterol levels of 12 points and an average decrease in glucose levels of 17 points, after year one.
The debate over the effectiveness and privacy of fitness tracking devices today is part of the employer wellness challenge. According to Fitbit, over 2.6 million Fitbit users, including employees at 70 of the Fortune 500, connect their data into population health and health management platforms within Fitbit's own corporate wellness solution, health plan platforms and management solutions. Fitbit obviously has a stake in such results, but more employers are looking to adapt to health management techniques that employees are already interested in or using.
However, discussions at the Benefits Forum and Expo revealed continued debate over whether or not health trackers help the populations that require the most assistance, such as those with chronic conditions like diabetes.
While employee privacy remains an ongoing concern, experts say the data HR can access from Fitbit is limited to aggregate data, so an HR manager, for example, typically doesn't have access to specific data on any single employee’s habits. However, with (and only with) an employee’s express consent HR can collect some individual level data. As these two outcomes show, the data gathered from Fitbit can reduce medical costs, improve overall employee health, and over the long term help reduce rising group health insurance premiums.