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limeade adds a little zing to wellness: free-ranging conversation with henry albrecht, limeade CEO

November 18, 2011

in free-ranging conversations (interviews with wellness innovators),reviews: products, services, books

 

limeade is a corporate wellness provider that prides itself on innovation, keeping things fresh and making wellness relevant. they recently announced their platform’s support for commercially-available health devices and apps, such as runkeeper and nike+, making limeade effortlessly work with employees’ preferred devices. i asked henry albrecht, limeade’s CEO, to walk me through the what and why of this decision.

fm: why did you decide to do an API (application programming interface)? we’re seeing that more in public health, but not in workplace wellness.
ha: some of our big clients and prospects were telling us they wished their people didn’t have to log in to a web platform every day. some of their people aren’t sitting in front of a computer. then we also had clients who wanted to use all of the existing cool devices with their program.

we knew we had to come up with something simple. the innovation in devices and apps is coming from a million different directions. we wanted to pull that consumer innovation into our platform—one partner or one app simply wasn’t going to meet the needs of the market. we needed to come up with an approach that was easy and had broad coverage.

fm: how does this do that?
ha: many people have an app or device they love already. our service lets them connect it to their limeade account. then, if there’s a fitness challenge that’s enabled for devices, they don’t have to log in. they just use or wear their app or device. we make limeade their program.

fm: walk me through how an employer would integrate these devices into a challenge.
ha: the participant’s home or find challenges page will guide him or her to device-enabled social challenges.

he or she can choose from the available devices and apps to track progress.

once the device is enabled, the participant’s data is automatically refreshed the next time he or she logs in.

fm: how did you pick the devices and apps you’re initially partnering with, like nike+?
ha: we wanted some that were free. we wanted the ones that were in highest use in corporate america. and we wanted them all to be fun. that’s where nike+, runkeeper, fitlinxx actiped, etc., come from. employees have different budgets and different levels of interest in exploring mobile wellness.

some employers came to us and said they don’t believe in self-reported fitness data. many of these devices have algorithms that determine real activity. so, for some employers, this is also about having more verifiable data.

fm: you also recently announced an alliance with health dialog.
ha: we’ll have more to say on that soon. that announcement and this one about the limeade open app and device platform and API are examples of limeade’s track record of innovation. if you go back to 2006 when we launched, our well-being assessment was unique and novel in its inclusion of nonphysical categories like culture and trust in senior leadership. we built social networks into our platform from the beginning. we think this device platform is just one more example of our track record of cutting-edge innovation.

fm: any other innovations in the pipeline we should know about?
ha: we started in a great place with activity and fitness devices. at limeade, we love to compete for points and social and financial rewards, and we’ve seen our high-performance customers and their employees love it, too. we also see a not-too-distant future where self-tracking for stress, depression and chronic diseases like diabetes and COPD use fun, consumer-friendly apps and devices. apps will get smaller, faster, easier, more wearable and more game-like. our agile development methods will help us use our customers’ spoken and unspoken needs to tell us where we need to go next.

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read more free-ranging conversations with health innovators.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Leslie November 18, 2011 at 1:35 pm

I think this sounds like such a fabulous program. I wish it could be made available to smaller companies. (We only have 175 employees.)

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fran November 18, 2011 at 4:22 pm

leslie, thanks for reading. creating cost-effective solutions for smaller companies is a real need. did you see this article about “making wellness work for small business”? it was published this week on CNBC: http://www.cnbc.com/id/45261950

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Rubin B February 13, 2012 at 9:17 pm

This approach screams ENGAGEMENT!! which has been the Achilles Heel of traditional wellness programs.

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