Researchers at Brigham Young University recently analyzed a sampling of health and fitness apps featuring game-styled aspects—and concluded that these so-called gamified apps won't provide wellness program participants with positive long-term results. Further, there could even be legal issues if employers aren’t careful about what they’re promoting.

Ballard Spahr's Edward I. Leeds reports that "there has been some litigation in this area on the nondiscrimination side. It really depends on how an employer uses the gadgetry and how it fits into an overall employer program. Employers have to exercise the same kind of caution that they would with any other wellness program. It probably means that they need to know about the gadgetry and what it’s doing when they make the offer to employees."

The game features might involve medical information collection, so employers will have to be mindful that the apps comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Mr. Leeds said, "If there’s some connection between the apps and an employer-sponsored health plan, then an employer has to meet the HIPAA requirements. Those requirements depend on what kind of a wellness program the employer is maintaining, which in some ways the apps may play into."

Practice Areas

Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation
Health Care