Partnership with YuLife insurance to explore impact of healthy living app

  • Date

    Mon 19 Jun 23

A young woman, looking serious and wearing fitness clothing holds a tennis racket and stares straight at the camera

Health experts are partnering YuLife to evaluate the effects of its game-based app on public health and individual wellbeing.

The Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) will see researchers provide scientific evidence for how the financial services and employee wellbeing company’s app incentivises behaviour change while improving health and wellbeing.

The two-year project, funded by Innovate UK, is the first KTP awarded to Essex’s Institute of Public Health and Wellbeing.

As well as improving health and wellbeing support for individuals, the evidence-backed app could provide the insurance industry with a new model for more accurately assessing an organisation’s risk based on individual employee lifestyles.

It’s hoped the app might also help employers who purchase group insurance cover from YuLife better understand and respond to staff absences and improve retention.

YuLife, which provides group life, income protection and critical illness cover for employers, first launched its app in 2018 and collects data from 607,000 workers whose employers offer YuLife cover.

The app allows members to convert currency earned with walks, workouts, cycling and meditation into tree planting, ocean cleaning, groceries and vouchers from popular brands.

By partnering with Essex scientists with expertise in data collection and analysis, epidemiology, artificial intelligence and human behaviour, the YuLife team hope to be able to demonstrate a direct link between app engagement and health benefits.

“It is exciting for YuLife to be a part of a scientific study where, for the first time in the insurance industry, academic researchers in public health will validate how gamification impacts health and wellbeing for the better,” said Sammy Rubin, CEO and Founder, YuLife.

“Since founding YuLife, our core mission has been to breathe life back into life insurance by incentivising healthy behaviours to de-risk individuals. We look forward to seeing the evidence emerge from this partnership that will highlight a link between the app’s high engagement and positive lifestyle outcomes.”

“This is a very exciting opportunity for our team to show how the expertise within our Institute and wider Essex community, can make a real difference to people’s lives as well as help a growing business achieve its strategic aims” said Professor Mariachiara Di Cesare, Director of the Institute of Public Health and Wellbeing.

Professor Robert Stawski, Deputy Director of the Institute added, “This partnership could bring the insurance business to another level through understanding and promoting the daily health and wellbeing of the population.”

Professors Di Cesare and Stawski will be joined on the team by Dr Honor Bixby, who has experience of planning, delivering and evaluating participatory population health studies, and Dr Tasos Papastylianou, a former medical doctor in the NHS with expertise in artificial intelligence and data science who will collaborate directly with YuLife’s Lead Scientist and Researcher, Dr John Ronayne, in delivery of the project.