Perk Health Provides Means for Firms to Reward Physically Active Employees

By March 14, 2013

This web and mobile healthcare application encourages company employees to raise their game by taking regular physical exercise.

Every physically inactive employee in the United States costs his/her company on average $5000 more in healthcare-related expenses or lost working hours per year than an active person. Many entrepreneurs are now coming up with solutions to help reduce this bill, along the lines of the employee inactivity cost calculator developed by East Carolina University. In the same vein, a Minnesota-based startup, Perk Health, an alumnus of the Rock Health incubator which specialises in the digital health and healthcare space, is now offering a web/mobile app designed to encourage company staff to be more active by offering cash incentives for the physical exercise they take. The idea is to help people to improve their general health, and at the same time help their employer to cut down on absenteeism and boost productivity.

Self-managed exercise

Perk Health is a product which comprises a web/mobile application and a smart messaging system. The software enables the client company to motivate its employees to take more exercise in exchange for a cash incentive – which in all probability will cost the firm less than the consequences of having a physically inactive workforce. As their sports activity adds up on an activity dashboard with the amount of time they spend exercising, the exercise newcomers will reach various thresholds and attain their personal – and financial – targets. This gamification angle on employees’ free time, plus the social network which is also hosted on
the app, also helps them connect with each other, encouraging colleagues to share their achievements and get a buzz out of being competitive. Meanwhile the new recruits also have the chance to opt in to a smart messaging facility which puts them in touch with a digital coach called Kevin. Kevin adapts his approach and tone to the personality of the user, based on a personality type assessment. The coach sends tailored messages designed to get on the individual’s wavelength and help the sporting tyro to stay motivated.

Activity plays a major role in health

Dr I-Min Lee is a professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. Her main research interest is the role of physical activity in promoting health and preventing chronic disease and her work highlights how inactivity can shorten life expectancy. Inactivity is deemed to be at the root of 9% of premature deaths, i.e. 5 million people in 2008 in the United States. Inactivity also encourages the development of certain types of disease, for example, colon cancer, breast cancer, type II diabetes and heart disease, Dr Lee underlines.


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