Health startup Keas ‘reboots’ to turn your work colleagues into virtual gym buddies

Keas, the health startup launched by former head of Google (s GOOG) Health, Adam Bosworth, is changing things up once again. Founded in 2009 as a kind of a “ for health,” the company later pivoted into a gamified employee wellness program.
On Tuesday, the company said it was evolving once more with a new management team and product platform meant to make Keas feel even less like traditional enterprise software and more like a consumer product that just happens to be distributed in the workplace.
“We’re going from a health IT team to one that’s an engagement team, both in terms of the product and the market,” said CEO Josh Stevens, describing the change as a “reboot.” “We’re at the crossroads of the consumerization of health. [Keas] feels like a consumer app but the best place to get traction from the app is at work.”
Over the past few months, the company has added not just Stevens (see disclosure below), but new executives in product, sales, marketing and business development. It’s also been developing a new version of its product, Keas 360/365, released today, that the company says is a more comprehensive, open and sticky social network centered around health and wellness.
The goal, said Stevens, is to give people a social and fun framework for engaging in health activities so that they can ultimately improve their own health – and their companies’ bottom line.
keasThrough Keas’ social network, HR executives can spread the word about flu shot programs and other health initiatives and employees can share posts about their runs and healthy habits. All users are broken up into small teams so that light peer pressure pushes each member into more engagement.
With the new version, users complete a brief assessment to receive personalized goals and objectives. To keep them engaged and help them reach those goals, the program offers fitness challenges, games polls and other kinds of content. The latest platform is also available on mobile and integrates with third-party apps and devices, so that a user could choose to have her Fitbit automatically post her daily activity in her newsfeed, for example.
As healthcare costs climb, Keas’ pitch to employers is that promoting employee health can lead to higher productivity and ultimately lower health expenses. For employees, the program is positioned as a way to reach their health goals as well as get rewarded for their activities – extra steps logged on your Fitbit, getting the flu shot and taking other healthy steps could mean discounts on health insurance or extra credits in your flexible spending account.
As we’ve covered before, rising health costs and new incentives in the Affordable Care Act are giving employers new reasons to consider corporate wellness programs. And new technology, such as Fitbits and Nike Fuelbands that track activity are providing new ways to quantifiably monitor employee behavior and track results.  In similar ways, ShapeUp and PUSH Wellness also target employers with digital wellness programs and companies like Everymove partner with health plans to incentive healthy behavior change.
Since launching, Keas has raised $17.5 million. For now, its target customer is an employer of 1,000 or more but Stevens said they’re working on an option for smaller companies. In 2012, it said it increased its registered users by 282 percent and added new enterprise clients like The Cheesecake Factory, Mountain State Health Alliance, BAE Systems, Pella, and British Telecom.
“If you’re going to have a bite out of the apple of solving the health care crisis in the U.S., it has to start at work because that’s where most Americans spend most of their time eating and where they spend most of their time living,” Stevens said.
Keas CEO Josh Stevens is on GigaOM’s board of advisors.
Image by dotshock via Shutterstock.