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A stress assessment that generates a “stress number” gets Mayo Clinic support

The impact of stress has consequences not only for work performance, but also for healthcare costs. That’s part of the argument health IT business The Oxygen Plan uses for its 30-question survey, which is intended to quantify stress levels for individuals and employees so employers can getter a better read of their workforce and zero in on areas that need attention. Oxygen Plan recently joined the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator as its latest tenant, according to a company statement.

Long term, the company is striving for its stress assessment survey to be included on all health risk assessments. 

Stress can drive people to eat, smoke, drink or do drugs in search of relief, which can cause health problems in their own right or worsen chronic conditions. One goal is that by identifying stress as a manageable problem, the health and wellness company can help people address it in more productive ways.

Prior to founding the company in 2011, CEO Eric Lucas was vice president of new ventures at General Mills. In a phone interview with MedCity News, Lucas and Eitel Dannenfels, vice president of business development, talked about the advantages joining Mayo Clinic’s accelerator will provide the business.

“It will give us access to technology and regulatory professionals,” Dannenfels said. “For us, this will be about better understanding the corporate wellness market.”

The company is also keen to work with Mayo on clinical validation of its health and wellness technology  — something the business expects to happen this Fall. It is also developing an app for iOS, Droid and Microsoft networks for 2016 to increase its user base.

Lucas noted some of the advantages to presenting stress as a number. From a human resources exec’s point of view, “it can raise questions such as, are younger staff more stressed out than their older counterparts? Are executives less stressed than the rest of their team? Stress can also be a factor in high job turnover.”

Dannenfels’ background is steeped in the medtech space, particularly cardiology. He equates the ability of its technology to pinpoint a stress level with establishing cholesterol levels for cardiovascular problems and views its technology as changing the dialogue of how stress is managed.

“In the cardiovascular space, we talked about stress but nobody could quantify it. The ability of physicians to pinpoint cholesterol levels through a blood test has made managing cholesterol levels a little easier since they can be more easily quantified.”

Lucas emphasized that employers don’t see the results of each person’s stress evaluation, since the results are de-identified, but they can see enough to identify parts of their business that need attention.

Managing and reducing stress is an area of interest for other startups as well. Last month, MeQuilibrium raised $9 million in a Series B round. It provides a boot camp to help users rethink how they resolve common sources of stress in the office for things like time management, clutter, balancing work and their social life and diet. It also customizes these tools so they’re relevant to each employee, their  lifestyle.