Could Strava and Fitbit be added back to Vitality Rewards?

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There may be hope for Discovery Vitality members who are worried that their fitness trackers and apps will no longer be compatible with the firm’s incentive points scheme, after CEO Dr Shrey Viranna told Cape Talk radio’s Kieno Kammies that the company is talking to some of the affected device manufactures about how they can improve the way data is shared so that it will work with the new system.

Discovery Vitality announced in a newsletter last week that it would cease support for a number of fitness tracking devices associated with its Vitality Rewards program. It said it members would no longer be able to share data from adidas miCoach, Moves, RunKeeper, Strava, MapMyFitness and Timex in order to earn incentives through the program.

Discovery says that the some of the technical “changes are driven by the need for accurate, measurable and reliable data and to motivate the right behaviours. The refinements emphasise heart rate monitoring and working with device partners to improve data accuracy”. What that means for members is that the new scheme relies on live heart rate monitoring rather than movement detection to assess a workout, which in turn means the new system requires specific types of data in unadulterated formats from compatible devices.

Viranna said the company is aware of complaints about the decision, and that Discovery is working with some of the companies affected on a solution.

“We are working in a very collaborative way with FitBit but right now the way the data format comes through to us isn’t useable for the tables that we have shared with our members,” Viranna.

The tables Viranna was referring to are the updated heart rate tables sent out to member last week, which detail what percentage of a member’s heart rate needs to be in order for them to earn Vitality points. Viranna explained that Discovery is working with FitBit to come up with a workable solution.

“We are hoping to get [a] resolution but we felt that, given that a lot of our members that complain that they bought it for the heart rate and it is not working, we are acknowledging it and need to put a solution in place for that,” he said.

Viranna added that certain delisted devices could be added back if Discovery is able to access data in the raw formats it needs to verify activity.

“If the data was verifiable, in that self-reporting and third-party data reporting was removed before it is sent through to us, and the reliability of any app or device is at a level that we feel our consumers are not compromised… we will gladly add those back on,” he said.

So users of FitBit, Strava or any other devices that have been delisted may not want to turn their back on Discovery just yet. Viranna said that Discovery would review devices and apps twice a year.

“We plan to do review that probably twice a year going forward, so that we can add people back,” Viranna said. “Because technology is changing, right now we are talking about who the players are in the space today. But by 2017 or 2018 there might be new devices or apps that are popular and relevant and we gladly want to stay at the forefront of that.”

[10/3 – This article has been corrected from its original form to reflect that Discovery Health and Discovery Vitality and to clarify some of the issues around third party apps, devices and data formats]

Charlie Fripp

Charlie Fripp

Charlie started his professional life as a motoring journalist for a community newspaper in Mpumalanga, Charlie explored different journalistic angles since his entry into the fast-paced world of publishing in 2006. While fostering a passion for the arts, Charlie developed a love for technology – both which allowed him to serve as Entertainment and Technology Editor for an online publication. Charlie has since been heavily involved in consumer technology for various websites and publications. He thoroughly enjoys World War II films and cerebral documentaries; aviation; photography and indie music. Oh yes, and he also has a rather strange obsession with collecting coffee mugs from his travels.