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Summary:

Keas, a San Francisco startup that offers employers a social service for boosting employee health and productivity, has raised $8 million.

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photo: Corbis / Don Mason

Health tech startup Keas seems to have finally found its footing. Launched in 2009 by the former head of Google Health, the company was initially intended to be something like a “Mint.com for health,” but later pivoted into a gamified employee wellness service. Earlier this year, the company evolved further with a new management team and strategy meant to make the product feel even more consumer- oriented. And it looks like its twists and turns may be paying off.

In the last year, the company said it’s doubled its count of registered users and enterprise clients and, on top of that, it said Tuesday that it has raised an additional $8 million in venture financing. The funding, which brings Keas’ total amount raised to $26 million, came from Ignition Partners and Atlas Ventures. With the additional funds, the company said it plans to ramp up product development and expand to new clients.

“We want to make health social and mobile and really engaging for employees,” said Keas CEO Josh Stevens, who took the helm last year (founder Adam Bosworth is now CTO).

As health care costs climb and health-related productivity losses continue to mount, Keas targets employers with a workplace social network that boosts employee health and engagement. Through the platform, companies’ HR teams can broadcast messages about flu shot programs and other wellness initiatives and employees can share updates about their health-related activities– from eating to daily exercise. All employees are divided up into small teams with the goal of using light peer pressure to nudge users into better habits and more engagement.

The service seems to be doing its doing its job — Keas said the average employee engages with the site 12 times a month and that the number of monthly active users for each company tends to be triple that of users on incumbent sites (which are usually barely-trafficked portals offered by health plans).

Keas is also available on mobile so that users can access it wherever they go and, as of Tuesday, it integrates with fitness startups like Fitbit, Runkeeper and GAIN Fitness, stress coaching service meQuilibrium and LabCorp, a company that offers lab tests, biometrics and health assessment services.

For employers, Keas’ pitch is that improving employee health can lower health expenses and improve productivity. For employees, the social service is intended to help them reach new health goals and get rewarded for their healthy activities – for example, logging additional steps via Runkeeper or showing improvements through a health assessment could lead to health insurance discounts or extra cash in a flexible spending account.

The company is hardly the only startup courting employers with a social wellness program. For example, startups WellTok and ShapeUp also see opportunities in offering companies health-centric employee engagement programs, especially now that they’re extra incentivized by the Affordable Care Act.

But Keas seems to be picking up clients at a healthy clip. Its most recent customers include Pandora, Valeant Pharmaceuticals and KLA-Tencor.

For now, Stevens said, the company is focused on enterprises’ employee wellness-related needs. But, given its ability to get employees to participate on the network, he said it could eventually expand to cover other online HR services.

“This is the beach head into human capital management for corporations,” he said.

  1. Great idea to incentivize employees any reasonable way you can. No matter what healthcare workers can do, and we can do a lot, nothing compares to what people can do for themselves. Controlling one’s weight, not smoking, drinking alcohol in moderation, not taking foolish chances, and getting reasonable amounts of exercise could work wonders in saving lives and reducing healthcare costs and it won’t ruin your life to do so.

    Unfortunately, as a large % of our work force is sedentary and “sitting is the new smoking”, we need to also do what we can to keep the blood flowing out of and into our legs when sitting. This can be done by powering your “calf pump” by working your feet up and down at the ankles to make the muscles in your calves compress the veins to help move blood back uphill to your heart.

    Jim
    Orthopaedic Surgeon, Retired

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  2. Rashad Abdul-Salaam MBA, MA, CNIM Wednesday, June 26, 2013

    This looks to be a great service to not only make patients healthier and advance patient-care for physicians, but also drive down health insurance costs for employers and insurers.

    The internet is helping to inform and empower patients and healthcare consumers in all sorts of ways, which is why we created HappyHealth.me to help consumers store basic health information and use it to auto-fill those pesky doctor’s office forms. Check us out!

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