November is Women in InsurTech month at Oxbow Partners. For our first Bitesize we chose Optimity, co-founded by Jane Wang.
Optimity is an employee wellness app which monitors and advises on health risk. Jane founded Optimity after losing her mother to late-stage cancer. Her aim was to help people live longer by (1) better understanding their health risk factors and (2) nudging them with advice and rewards to take actions to lower these risk factors. Optimity encourages users to take what they call ‘micro-breaks’ of between 30 seconds to 2 minutes to practice ‘micro-habits’ that fit within a user’s existing daily routines. These micro-habits include things such as stress management, activity tracking, and nutrition management. Wellness is believed to improve through the aggregation of the ‘micro-habits’.
Optimity has two different client use cases:
- Health and life insurers purchase it to differentiate their proposition and reduce claims
- Employers purchase it to reduce absenteeism and prevent workplace injury and the resulting employers liability claims, which ultimately reduce premiums
Optimity aspires to be like Vitality’s wellness management and rewards platform with two key differences:
- Multi-tiered customisation: allowing insurers, TPAs, and employers to tailor the app, content and rewards that employees receive
- Learning: applying artificial intelligence (AI) to cluster individuals into different at risk groups (e.g., depression, diabetes, obesity, heart disease)
The app can connect to up to 280 interfaces to accept and provide data, such as Fitbits for health data and personal calendars to plan activities for employees.
The Oxbow Partners view
Optimity’s model is interesting due to its more modern views on wellness, which appear to be different from other providers. Firstly, they use small nudges to drive action i.e. users are only required to spend a very small amount of time on simple activities in ways that don’t disrupt their daily lives. Second, a broader definition of wellness beyond physical well-being; Optimity also includes actions to improve mental health.
We can see challenges with the Optimity business model. From what we understand the main USP of Optimity is the platform and its UX. With current web-technologies user platforms can now be developed quickly. We question how defensible this platform is to new entrants. You could argue that they have some advantages over others e.g. first-mover, knowledge of behavioural motivators and pre-integration into health data platforms such as Fitbit, but these aren’t insurmountable.
There is clearly a need for more of a focus on wellness. The ageing population will increasingly put pressure on healthcare providers. Anything that helps with this is to be welcomed with open arms.