February 5, 2015

Wellmo pursues bigger vision for healthtech

Wellmo believes that in the future wellness tracking will become integrated into the products around us (like beds, smartphones and scales) instead of everybody using separate wearable devices.
Wellmo believes that in the future wellness tracking will become integrated into the products around us (like beds, smartphones and scales) instead of everybody using separate wearable devices.
Wellmo

Finnish health technology startup Wellmo was born out of two ex-Nokian’s passion for health and wellbeing. They have created a mobile platform to help companies improve the wellbeing of their employees.

Some 10 years ago Jaakko Olkkonen was feeling the toll of a busy career. A sabbatical from his work at Finnish technology giant Nokia helped him improve his lifestyle and lose weight. Now, he wants to help others to lead healthier lives by making employee wellness programmes more personal.

“About three-quarters of people already have some kind of personal wellness goals. But many feel that corporate wellness programmes aren’t for them because its focus might differ from their own goals”, says Olkkonen, co-founder and CEO of Wellmo, who previously lead Nokia’s wellness business. “We help employers to engage these people by asking them what are their own goals and how the wellness programme coaches can help in achieving that. “

In short, Wellmo is a cloud-based platform and mobile app for running employee wellness programmes. Health-focused corporate service providers, such as occupational health and coaching, can use Wellmo to offer companies bespoke campaigns, personal coaching and surveys.

The Wellmo platform consists of three parts: tools for service providers to run wellness programmes, a mobile app for employees to track their wellbeing and aggregation of health tracking data from existing apps and devices.

“So far companies haven’t been able to effectively measure the benefits of their wellness programmes. As we can provide them with measurable results, they will invest more in employee well-being,” believes Jaakko Olkkonen, CEO of Wellmo.

“So far companies haven’t been able to effectively measure the benefits of their wellness programmes,” believes Jaakko Olkkonen. “As we can provide them with measurable results, they will invest more in employee wellbeing.”

Wellmo

Instead of offering yet another health tracker, Wellmo mobile app can gather data from over 30 wearables including Fitbit, Beddit, Garmin and Withings. This means Wellmo’s approach enables employees to use their prefered products as part of their corporate wellness programme.

Employees can then use the data gathered through the Wellmo mobile app to set goals and chart their own progress while their wellness programme coaches can monitor the data and help them reach their goals.

“Basically employers can cost-efficiently offer all of their staff a personal coach”, explains Olkkonen.

For the employer Wellmo provides an overview of the well being of its staff and their measurable results in real time. The benefits of this can be significant with the company citing a recent article in the Harvard Business Review which claims the return on investment for comprehensive well-run employee wellness programmes can be as high as six to one.

All stems from Nokia

Wellmo was born when Nokia’s own mobile wellness business was discontinued in 2012. Olkkonen and his colleague Sampo Niskanen left the company, licensed its ‘Mobile Wellness Diary’ technology and founded their own company later that year.

For Wellmo, which now has 13 employees in its Helsinki-based headquarters, it was an easy choice to approach wellbeing from a service provider – rather than consumer – point of view.

“We wanted to focus on the second phase of wellness technology where, instead of consumer products, these technologies will move onto a larger scale in different services,” says Olkkonen. “Measuring your own blood pressure is useful, but you will benefit much more when a health professional can use that data to provide a personalised service.”

The start has been promising. While Wellmo was only officially launched in November 2014 it already has clients in Scandinavia, Benelux and the United Arab Emirates. For the time being the company’s target markets are Europe and the Middle East, with Olkkonen noting that the latter’s wellness culture is still in its infancy.

Wellmo also has long term plans to move into public health care. The company believes that in the future wellness technologies will be more widely adopted also in the public sector and a service like Wellmo could be used as a preemptive method to monitor and improve health and potentially save millions in health care expenses.

“Even though people still have a lot to improve in their lifestyles, there is a lot of drive to do so,” Olkkonen concludes. “But they will need professional help to reach their goals and we can help with that. Technology has already changed many areas in our lives and it will also change how we manage and develop our wellbeing.”

Text: Eeva Haaramo

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