Is your work-life balance out of whack? This digital health company wants to change that

Do you live to work or work to live? During the time I spent in England, it was a question that got raised frequently on the train ride home. Americans, as I was reminded, tend to fall into the former category. But the Brits tended to be split as they struggled between the European ideal […]

Do you live to work or work to live? During the time I spent in England, it was a question that got raised frequently on the train ride home. Americans, as I was reminded, tend to fall into the former category. But the Brits tended to be split as they struggled between the European ideal and American labor trends they slowly, grudgingly adopted.

Employer wellness is one way companies are trying to counter the effects of the long hours we work. Hubbub Health is among the clutch of digital health companies competing for employer wellness contracts, like Keas, LifeVest Health and Limeade. Its platform uses patient engagement, social networking and gamification to bring down healthcare costs. Its business model relies on small and medium-sized businesses. It also aspires to do more than help employees do a better job of managing their health. It wants to improve their quality of life.

The idea is if employees are happier, they will be more efficient at their jobs, less stressed out and will take fewer sick days.

Here’s how it works. Employees get quizzed on their health through a questionnaire and are given a couple of starter challenges. The challenges fall under five categories including physical fitness, healthy eating, personal interests like a book club or time with family, socializing and relaxing. The company takes the view that if it can encourage challenges around things that employees enjoy doing, it will stand a better chance of getting them to repeat those tasks and keeping them interested.

Cambia Health Solutions formed the Portland, Oregon-based company in 2011. It is one of a group of health IT companies it has developed.

It is important to point out that Hubbub is also available through an app it makes available to consumers who can participate in the network and compete against others.

Employees can use privacy settings to control the challenges they don’t mind colleagues seeing and those they want to keep to themselves. Although health and fitness figure in to these goal-setting exercises, socializing is just as important as the challenges imply. Users may receive a challenge to hang out with friends and co-workers or get eight hours of sleep, or check one thing on their car to make sure they have a safe commute. The more cynically minded would compare these sorts of challenges to a summer camp. But the goal is to encourage a sense of community.

In a phone interview, Brian Berchtold, director of business development at Hubbub Health, offered up a few examples of how the platform addresses quality-of-life goals.

“We focus on the complete person. We literally have challenges around families like cooking meals, playing with your children, doing your taxes.”

Although employees are the focus, they’re encouraged to include their friends and family in personal health challenges so that it not only makes it more fun for them but also gives them a support network. But it also encourages bosses to challenge employees. Companies can also challenge each other.