The Top 8 Criteria for Evaluating Vendors

The full guide to help you find the best vendor for your business.

With $3.4 billion spent on digital health programs in just the first half of 2018, you’re going to continue having more and more vendors trying to win your business.


Selecting the right one can be overwhelming. That’s why we created this online guide – to help you streamline your approach by focusing on key attributes all great benefits vendors have in common.

The Top 8 Criteria

For Evaluating Vendors

A Novel Approach

Does the technology do something new?

There are too many “me too” solutions out there, so ask this question up front. Look for tools that provide previously unavailable data, simplify user experiences, and offer far greater scale than the competition. Connected devices like the Pivot carbon monoxide sensor and the Omada digital scale use real-time data to help users understand their progress. Measurement with a personal connection can bring lasting, scalable change.


Does it make life easier?

Outside of social media, how many smartphone apps do you regularly use? Probably just a handful—ones that simplify things you already do or are hoping to do. Your employees are the same. So, ask: “What problem does this solve? Is that a problem my employees want or need to solve? And is this solution truly easier than what we currently have?”


What do they mean by “evidence-based”?

This term is frequently misused and misunderstood. At a minimum, “evidence-based” means the program is built on the best available scientific evidence. But it should also indicate that studies have demonstrated that the program does what it claims (in the case of Pivot: help people quit smoking). Vendors should be able to show you the science they’re based on, and clinical studies demonstrating that they apply the science effectively.

Advanced Reporting

Do they offer advanced reporting?

There are only two reasons a vendor won’t offer complete and transparent reporting for every aspect of their program: They haven’t bothered to build in the proper analytics tools, or they’re trying to obscure the fact that they can’t deliver what they promise. Either way, they’re not for you. Pivot can show real-time engagement numbers, progress through the program, quit rates, even trends in users’ confidence and attitudes—all on demand.


Are they playing games?

“Gamification” gets thrown around a lot—in marketing speak and product development. Effective gamification is a powerful combination of game theory and behavioral science to affect change. If used incorrectly, however, it can actually de-motivate users. Experienced behavioral scientists and game developers understand this. So, as with “evidence-based,” if a vendor talks about “gamification,” ask for the science behind how they’re using it.

Integration & Implementation

How streamlined is the implementation process?

Innovative benefits offerings should integrate into your overall wellness program with minimum fuss. Security and data protocols should be clearly stated up front, as should the length of the implementation period. Can they support your own internal marketing programs? Or do they have a turnkey marketing program so that you don’t even have to worry about it? If a benefit doesn’t advance your goals without any heavy lifting on your part, move on.

Human-Centered Design

Do they use human-centered design?

Engineers and marketers develop products based on what they think they can build or sell. Experience designers build products based on what users actually need and how they live. Human-centered design means intuitive setup, ease of use, and a compelling, personalized experience that keeps people coming back—just like the best consumer products. Wellness benefits that aren’t based on those principles simply no longer capture people’s attention.

History vs. Innovation

How do you weigh evidence vs. innovation?

You want solutions backed by years of evidence, but you also want the most innovative solutions, which, by definition, don’t have long track records. So, what to look for? A net-promoter score (NPS) is often a great indicator of early traction. Additionally, ask for clinical studies and case studies. You might also consider seeing if you can start with a pilot program for interesting solutions that may not yet have as much historical data as you would like.

To simplify things, we’ve put together this handy scoresheet you can use to evaluate benefits vendors across these 8 criteria.


Download Scoresheet

Engagement Still Matters

Has “engagement” lost its meaning? Yes and no. As a marketing term? Yes. We can take only so many years of “engagement” solutions that deliver little—if any—improvement over existing offerings.

But as a goal? Engagement should always be right at the top of our list. We want as many employees using their available benefits as possible. So, don’t let the failures of most “engagement” efforts obscure those who really are moving the needle. For example, with Pivot, we’ve seen registration rates at up to four times the national average for employer-offered smoking cessation programs. That’s no accident. It’s the result of a very deliberate application of behavioral science, design principles, and consumer marketing at every step of Pivot’s development. Of course, engagement on its own isn’t enough. You also need robust follow up reporting and an emphasis on outcomes to make sure you’re driving real change. That’s why “Reach x Efficacy = Impact” is a mantra at Pivot.

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The Magic of Reporting

Reporting has typically been a sore subject for benefits leaders. We feel your pain. That’s why the most innovative and technologically-advanced benefits providers focus so much on improving reporting in depth of detail, simplicity and timeliness.

To illuminate how far reporting has come, check out this sample report highlighting the level of detail now possible when tracking your employees’ smoking cessation efforts with Pivot. 

Check out the Sample Report


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3x the Engagement with Pivot

Typical employer-provided cessation programs enroll only 7 percent of eligible people who smoke, on average. With Pivot’s turnkey marketing campaigns, our partners have averaged about three times that—in just the first month of enrollment.


Who Else is Doing it Right?

Pivot’s not the only program pushing the benefits industry forward. Here are some other companies that we think are also doing it right.
Hinge Health
Hinge Health

Hinge is human-centered from the get-go. This pain-management platform leads with an aspirational message of getting back to what’s important, versus focusing on health—a subtle shift that makes a huge motivational difference. And wearable sensors help users correct their movements in real time to improve outcomes.


Infertility benefits. Maternity benefits. Parenting benefits. Each has been its own area of struggle for employers—a specialist here, a health coach there. Ovia, which began as a successful consumer product, has brought all of these together in a digital solution with demonstrated ROI.


There are a lot of scientifically sound digital health solutions out there, as well as a lot of really slick and creative platforms. But behavioral health provider myStrength shows the two aren’t mutually exclusive—that a digital health solution can be both evidence-based and engaging.

Isn't "Innovative" a Euphemism for "Expensive"?

Nope. Even new, tech-enabled programs should be cost competitive with existing benefits solutions. And that’s just the up-front cost. Remember to look at the whole program value when comparing benefits. Digital tools can deliver results on a much bigger scale, meaning those initial costs can lead to much bigger long-term savings and measurably healthier, happier employees.

To see what kinds of savings you should expect from vendor offerings, check out this cost calculator.

Check Out Our Cost Calculator


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Want to hear more about Pivot and what makes benefits offerings truly innovative?
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