Independence Blue Cross opened up a tech-laden 'experience center' in Center City - Technical.ly Philly

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Sep. 13, 2016 7:49 am

Independence Blue Cross opened up a tech-laden ‘experience center’ in Center City

Independence LIVE, a 10,000 square foot community health center housed in the 1900 block of Market St., opened up last week, complete with a wellness tech arcade.

IBX's new "health and wellness experience center."

(Courtesy photo)

The construction mayhem that surrounds the 1900 block of Market Street seems to quickly mellow out once you walk into the brand-new Independence LIVE space, the insurance company’s most recent bet on linking up its customers with technology.

If it weren’t for the ubiquitous IBX logo, the peaceful 10,000-square-foot space could almost pass for a fledgling startup’s HQ, what with its open floor plan, bright citrusy decor and motivational phrases like “Do one thing every day that scares you” stenciled onto the columns.

The space, which opened up its doors to the community on Sept. 9, is billed as a “customer and community health and wellness experience center,” offering users services like free Zumba classes, healthy cooking lessons and blood pressure screenings.

But certainly the part we thought was the coolest was the Tech Arcade, an Apple Store–like bar with tablets, phones and Apple watches showcasing health IT apps and prototypes. Like this one:

A beta version of an Apple Watch app in action. (Photo by Roberto Torres)

A beta version of an Apple Watch app in action. (Photo by Roberto Torres)

It’s an app prototype for an Apple Watch which — paired with an iPhone to serve as a scanner — reads the info from medicine bottles and automatically alerts the users when it’s time to take a pill, how many to take, and displays a picture of what the actual pill looks like so they don’t get it wrong.

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Members can come in and use the technology to sign up for classes, look at a claim or pay their bills online, said Paula Sunshine, SVP and CMO of Independence Blue Cross.

Although, is this really the full use a healthcare company could make of a Tech Arcade? The No. 1 question that comes to mind when seeing all that tech gear lined up is: can’t people take these home for a while? Borrow a Fitbit or a step counter? How about a tablet loaded with a calorie-counter tool?

At least it’s a step in the right direction, with seven staffers available on site to help guide users with wellness tech questions, and events like this tablet seminar on Thursday.

And what about linking up with local startups with wellness tech of their own?

“We’re deeply committed with technology and startups, so if we thought there was something that we could bring to this space, we would absolutely do it,” said Sunshine.

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Roberto Torres

Roberto Torres became Technical.ly Lead Philly Reporter in May 2016. Prior, he was a freelance contributor to Technical.ly and Al Dia News. The native Venezuelan moved to Philadelphia in 2015 after reporting on research at his alma mater, the University of Zulia. Whenever he's not fencing deadlines, he can be found standing in line at Overbrook Pizza in West Philly, running Netflix/Hulu marathons with his wife or reading news from Venezuela.

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