There are two types of employee wellness data: verified and manual entry. Verified data is the output that results from using a wellness technology product like a smartphone app or wearable device. Verified data seamlessly flows from the app or wearable device directly to the wellness platform, and the tracker confirms that an activity has taken place.

Manual entry is activity data that the employee must log manually. Manual entry wellness programs vary but usually involve employees manually entering their daily steps, fitness activity, gym attendance, etc. Sometimes manual entry programs offer a wearable pedometer device; however, the device doesn’t seamlessly connect and transfer data to a wellness platform and therefore requires manual intervention to communicate activity to the wellness program administrator. A significant challenge of manual entry activity is that an employer cannot confirm that an activity was actually completed. Users can “game” the system.

If I told you one employee completed 3 duathlons, 3 marathons, 2 half marathons, 1 Olympic lifting competition, and 4 triathlons, you would think this employee is really healthy, right?

This activity is actually a real manual entry that got a Kansas City water department employee caught for cheating his insurance company’s wellness program. As a result of his fake strenuous athletic activity, this employee received 79 gift cards in total worth around 13k as rewards for his “wellness engagement.” This wellness activity fraud could have been prevented and highly discouraged with a wellness program that leverages technology to allow for verified data.

Verified data limits the potential for cheating in a wellness program, making it much more difficult for employees to game the system. Verified data is also more accurate and easier for the employee to log and employer to administer. Rather than relying on an employee’s memory of activities and self-tracking methods, verified data is the output of a computer algorithm. Verified data is easier for an employer to administer because the data is produced automatically. There is no need to collect data from employees or remind employees to log entries – verified data is the result of a seamless wellness program that manages data aggregation for the employer.cheating-65660250380_xlarge

Verified data also provides the employer with more detailed analytics and better insight into how employees are engaging in health and wellness activities. A manual entry may only include the date, time, and type of activity. Verified activities produced by using a smartphone app like RunKeeper can have hundreds of data points including time, distance, calories burned, and detailed running route information. With more detailed data insight, employers can more clearly see the benefits or failures of a wellness program, make better decisions about optimizing future programs, and more easily identify where additional employee wellness intervention is needed.

Additionally, the data can be used to personalize the wellness experience for a user. Based on user activity, custom content and reminders can “nudge” employees through valuable and timely information. For example, runners can receive content about an upcoming Saturday 5k or great ways to keep warm while running during the winter.

If your wellness program doesn’t allow for verified data and personalized wellness, it’s time to think about finding one that does.

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