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Medical Alley Association serves the individuals and organizations that comprise Minnesota's health industry by influencing policy, fostering connections and providing critical intelligence to improve the quality of health around the world.

Medical Alley Association serves the individuals and organizations that comprise Minnesota's health industry by influencing policy, fostering connections and providing critical intelligence to improve the quality of health around the world.

Minnesota Startup Creates Behavior Change, Sustains it, Creates Healthy Outcomes

Perk -Health

“I met a person who told me their girlfriend was bragging about having Perk Health and how great of an employee benefit it is.” - Perk Health CEO and co-founder, Zach McGill

Minnesota Health IT startup, Perk Health, creates behavior change and more importantly sustains it for health and wellness. Entrepreneurs Zach McGill and Doug DeBold started Perk Health as a health and wellness company, but with unique applications of behavioral science they were able to create a product that keeps users engaged – and customers happy.

So what did they do? They created a wellness platform that “see[s] about 10x the percent” of user engagement according to McGill. At one company, the vast majority of employees who started using Perk Health 2 years ago are still using it today.

McGill explained that one of the advantages is that “From the beginning we found ways to make the life of the person administering the program very easy so they can focus on finding value.” Doing this reduces the implementation burden, which “lowers the bar to a company adopting a wellness program.”

They have recently added a social component to the program, which reinforces healthy behavior. According to McGill, “One of the interesting things about human psychology is that there is one component we have universally in common – we are social creatures. Even when we achieve personal goals, the chemicals in our brain that make us feel good are amplified if we have people to share it with."

Perk Health’s platform allows individual successes to roll up into a larger team goal. It even allows for friendly competition where team goals can be matched against another team. Working on goals in teams creates a motivation and intrinsic reward that is greater than an individual goal. According to McGill, “It is why kids enjoy team sports so much, but it doesn’t get leveraged in healthcare enough.”

What about the local startup community?

McGill had this to say: “When we started thinking about Perk Health 3 years ago and tried to find other entrepreneurs to talk with, it was difficult. I think things have been booming in the last couple of years. The Startup ecosystem is really growing and there seems to be an increasing willingness for established players in the healthcare space to interact with startups. That is when the magic is really going to happen.”

This was not their first startup – in College, McGill started a company that sold extra tickets for Minneapolis theater shows – but it was their first large venture. Working with his close friend, DeBold, made starting Perk Health easier. They’ve had the usual ups and downs: Will it work? Will anyone care? But, they are propelled by their passion for health and their positive experiences participating in athletics in school. “We felt this is something the world will benefit from and that motivates us,” McGill stated.

Digital health companies continue to take hold in Minnesota’s Medical Alley community. In 2015, over $67 million was raised by digital health startups – a record amount and up 59% from 2014. The Medical Alley Association is committed to support the continued growth of this sector and solidifying Minnesota’s leadership in the space.

The Medical Alley Association is proud to have a member like Perk Health. If you’re organization would like to learn more, check out http://www.perkhealth.me/.