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Leveraging design and technology to transform the health experience | April 5-6, 2016 | Boston, MA

UnitedHealth to develop healthy vending machines

Originally posted on Healthcare Dive

Dive Brief:

  • UnitedHealth Group will create healthy vending machines that will tie in with employee wellness plans, vice president of innovation and R&D Kunjorn Chambundabongse revealed at the recent HxRefactored conference. 
  • The development team plans to implement radio frequency identification technology so that consumers can swipe a card to unlock the machine's door then receive an automatic charge based on what they remove from the machine. 

  • The goal is to reward members through their wellness programs for their healthy purchases, potentially by allowing reward points to be utilized to redeem free food from the machines.

Dive Insight:

The idea came from the group's concern that while insurers recommend better eating habits, they don't provide enough practical assistance to help members actually do so. UnitedHealth Group's internal incubation group is looking at the concept as one of about 17 ideas in various stages of development. 

"We're trying to build startups and when we're in these adjacent spaces outside the core of our businesses, there's a lot of uncertainty," Chambundabongse told mobihealthnews. 

If the project moves forward, the group intends to offer balanced food choices, developed by dietitians and chefs, and to put the vending machines directly in select member workplaces—which could provide meaningful impact given the company's reach throughout the US.