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Wearables and company wellness programs go hand-in-hand

Matt Hamblen | June 19, 2015
Fully half of fitness band sales in the U.S. are to companies that pass the devices along to employees, sometimes at no charge, for fitness-related activities, according to Forrester.

A worker's data showing he or she took 2 million steps is kept by Limeade, not Iron Mountain, Kirshner said. A worker's wearable device records the steps, which are then linked to an app from the device maker, which in turn connects to Limeade via an application programming interface (API) created at Iron Mountain.

"We don't verify the data and we only know that someone reached 2 million steps," he said. "We don't collect individual results."

While LiveWell is a voluntary program, there are some wellness and privacy experts who are concerned that wellness programs remain truly voluntary and that the personal data generated in those programs is kept confidential.

The EEOC is also concerned. Much of its focus has been on how wellness programs can benefit disabled persons who could never enroll in a program to take millions of steps or do other intense exercises. The EEOC's proposed rule would amend regulations used to implement Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 as related to employer wellness programs.

The EEOC is accepting public comments through this Friday on the proposal and is expected to issue a ruling sometime next year, according to attorneys following the case. The EEOC hopes to offer guidance on the extent that employers use financial and other incentives to get workers to participate in wellness programs.

Workplace wellness programs that make use of fitness bands and other wearables have been steadily on the rise in the past three years, and are expected to gain more steam with the introduction of the Apple Watch and a flood of new Android Wear devices. Fitbit and Jawbone regularly update their devices and have expanded the list of retailers that sell them.


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