Onsite wellness coaching firm Wellness Coaches is set to unveil a suite of health and wellness applications that merges mobile technology with inspiration and motivational content with data analytics for companies that do not have access to live, in-person wellness coaches. The new solution will not only work with the coaches and the employees who sign up for the service from the employer’s benefit plans, but it also connects benefit providers and clients with their personal wellness coaches.

The suite, called Wellness Coaches, is being tested by a sample of employers and benefit providers and should be officially rolled out in late Q3 or very early Q4 of this year. It is aimed at small- to large-group companies and adds remote access features for employees who work outside the main office.

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“We were averaging 80% engagement in work environments with live wellness coaches. We cracked that code, but we realized that something was missing to extend to the reach people who wouldn't be necessarily available [to a live, in-person wellness coach] on a regular basis,” says Gene McGuire, managing partner, Wellness Coaches. “So, we found great partners that are going to allow us to extend our reach.”

The new Wellness Coaches suite has four elements: a web portal, motivational content, a tool for syncing data from wearable devices, and a health data analytic tool that shows trends in medical care usage among employees.

The web portal technology comes from a partnership with Twine Health, the provider of the remote access coaching portal. This portal will allow employees and their spouses and dependents to interact with wellness coaches by video conferencing on desktop computers, tablets and smartphones. This portion of the Wellness Coaches suite will also allow benefit brokers to interact clients to discuss, for example, scheduling in-person coaches or virtual sessions for remote employees.

“It extends the reach to workers who are not onsite, and extends that reach to dependents and spouses,” says McGuire.

Wellness Coaches will “white label” the Twine Health portal with its own logo. “Our goal is to create something that will be seamless to the broker partners, and then for the client,” says McGuire.

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Corporate wellness provider CoreHealth provides the technology to sync the data from employees’ wearable devices, such as Fitbits and Apple iWatches. CoreHealth partner Inspired Perspectives of Jacksonville, Fla., will provide content such as blogs and newsletters to inspire employees through via the portal. They will also deliver what McGuire calls “incentive tracking” to create challenges among the remote employees as well as the workers inside the main hubs of the employer’s organization.

Inspired Perspectives works with Wellness Coaches’ social media partners “to bring more content to the equation,” he says.

Target interventions
Health data analytics will be provided by employer-facing analytics Springbuk, and it is designed to shine a light on gaps in an employee’s self care. McGuire says the Springbuk portion of the suite will be populated with medical-use data from the employees and will conduct predictive modelling that allows Wellness Coaches to understand where future costs are originating. Possible data points include an employee’s weight, frequency of doctor visits and any diagnosis for co-morbidities like heart attack and diabetes.

“We can now identify them upfront and create group activities and promotional efforts for future and chronic conditions. It can help people in need of TLC now, like are people doing what they should, are they using prescriptions as they should?” he says.

The information will be sent to coaches who can then “develop more targeted interventions, programming and strategies to help contain costs,” according to the company.

Stuart Migdon, director of employee benefits with benefit brokerage Business & Governmental Insurance Agency, is most excited about the data analytics portion of Wellness Coaches and has already recommended it to clients.

“We are going to be one of the first brokers to offer this to our clients. It’s a no-brainer from my perspective,” says Migdon. He adds that the data analytics lifts the curtain on the ROI of these services. “For the first time we can look under the hood and see those employees who are coached and those who are not coached.”

He adds, “Not only can we see empirical claims data, we can see what percentage of those employees coached are getting their physical exams every year, and how many are involved in the care coordination. It opens so much more in seeing the value of wellness coaches from a pure and real ROI perspective.”

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