As many of you know, I am on the advisory board of the Care Innovations Validation Institute. This is an important organization for the Population Health and Wellness industry. The advisory board is chaired by Dr. David Nash, Dean of the Jefferson College of Population Health.
Our industry is facing some questions; one need only look at the multitude of population health and wellness vendors and their reports of amazing outcomes to know that something is not right. RAND has published some very good studies (here, here and here) that showed limited to negative returns from various wellness and employe health improvement programs and Al Lewis has published many examples in his books (here and here) and on his website. While on the other side, Ron Goetzel at the Institute for Health and Productivity Studies within Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has a whole section devoted to programs that do work.
Last year the Population Health Alliance held a debate between Ron and Al. The event was standing room only and came to the conclusion that many of the programs do not work, while a few very well designed and implemented programs do.
As employers continue to push employee health improvement or Wellness programs, they are looking at gathering more “validated” results instead of relying on the always questionable self reported data. In particular the tracking of physical activity is one that has gotten much attention and companies now hand out Fitbits, Garmin devices, Jawbones and even Apple watches to track people’s walking and running. These are often tied to incentives for participation and many are associated with premium reductions.
The question is, just how accurate are these things and might there be some negative legal liability associated with their use? I can tell you from having used a few including Fitbits, Garmin, and Basis as well as some GPS trackers, there are clearly issues, which I’ve highlighted in other posts. For instance, one can often get more steps for driving on a bumpy road, brushing one’s teeth, drying off after a shower and a myriad of other ways. On the flip side, some devices worked while I was operating a power mower and others did not count any steps at all.
Now an article comes out that places even further doubt regarding the use of some of these devices. You can read it here: