Lifestyle Technosavvy the November 2014 issue

Q&A with Chris Chan

Chris Chan, Creative Director, Health Imagination, Towers Watson
By Michael Fitzpatrick Posted on October 27, 2014
How are wearable, digital fitness tracking devices like Fitbit, Jawbone, Vivofit and others changing the employee benefits space?
We have been testing a number of them ourselves. I’ve been walking around with 16 different things on various parts of my body. They all have pros and cons around the different features. Employers are trying to figure out how to incorporate these popular devices into their programs, provide incentives and subsidies, and create challenges for employees to have some sustainable engagement on physical activity. They’re trying to decide whether to stick with one type of device or one brand or have an open ecosystem where people can pick and choose.
What kind of impact are they having so far?

The jury is still out on it. There is a lot of interest in having people wear these devices, tracking their own personal activity, setting them up in teams. The question is: Is it sustainable? Do we see people wearing these devices three months from now, six months from now? People lose them. They forget about them. They get bored. You can’t just rely on the hardware to drive change. You have to keep it fresh and interesting.

So only well designed wellness programs that encourage and reward usage and turn these devices into fun, educational experiences through apps and social media will have staying power.

Are there real improvements from an employer perspective?

Yes and no. It is dependent on a number of other factors. One of the things I like to talk about with this whole experience is really the personality of an application or program and how fun or exciting it is. Is there magic around the personality of the device or an application that will make people continue to look forward to it on a daily basis?

Do they work well? Are they fun? Cool? Are they fashion or status statements? If the answer to these questions about a device is yes, then it has the potential to be an indispensable part of people’s lives—just like watches used to be before smartphones.

Michael Fitzpatrick Technology Editor Read More

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