3 New Ways Employers Are Using Technology to Support Employee Health

mother using her phone to talk to a doctor about her childs wrist injury that just occurred

As we speed towards end-to-end digital life, the way people monitor their own health has evolved. And because smarter tech has given consumers a more holistic view of their overall health, they now expect more digital functionality to be incorporated into their health care benefits.

Recently, Rick Weisblatt, Chief Innovation & Strategy Officer at Harvard Pilgrim, sat down with other leaders in the digital health space to discuss new ways people can proactively and seamlessly care for themselves, from their personal digital devices. We’ve rounded up the highlights from their conversation, but you can watch the full webinar here.

Total well being support

Total well being support

50% of all medical issues have a comorbidity of stress.

Savvy HR departments recognize that their employees’ well-being is key to the overall success of the company. The better supported employees feel, the more engaged and productive they will be in the workplace. And well-being goes beyond an employee’s physical health, to also encompass their emotional and financial health, and even their attitudes toward their work and sense of purpose. However, onsite programming to address these aspects of overall health and well-being is not always an option for employers to offer employees.

“We know that the world of work is very broken today. There is a lot of stress, employees are under a lot of pressure, and that leads to health care issues and problems. We know that 50% of all medical issues have a comorbidity of stress,” says Gary Gustafson, Divisional VP of Customer Success at Limeade, Harvard Pilgrim’s digital partner for the well-being programs it offers to employers.

Limeade’s immersive platform for employee well-being illustrates how mobile technology can be leveraged as a powerful tool to help guide overall well-being. Aside from offering trackable health assessments, the tool also “gamifies” elements of well-being like fitness and nutrition, creating challenges and games to work toward goals and drive better outcomes. It integrates personal step trackers, pulse monitors, and other consumer products on a single dashboard.

However, one of the key aspects of the Limeade platform is its ability to offer personalized recommendations to each individual employee that can span well beyond the traditional wellness goals of losing weight or eating healthier. Also included is access to tools that help to manage stress and anxiety through daily check-ins, mindfulness exercises, and webinars. This allows employees to more easily assess the areas of well-being they want to focus on, access supporting tools and resources, and accomplish the goals that matter most to them – at their own pace, and from their own mobile device.

For more information on the Limeade Wellbeing platform, click here.

Guided diagnosis and action plan

In an age where seemingly endless information is available at our fingertips, there’s an ongoing struggle between getting informed about one’s health and (often inaccurately) self-diagnosing. Whether it’s a nagging pain or a mental health issue, on-demand analysis of symptoms and guidance on next steps based on diagnosis and personal health benefits can help your employees get the right medical help they need, when they need it.

56% of them are non-urgent and about one-third could have been treated over the phone.

“72% of Americans turn to Google [when feeling unwell], but 54% of the information they read is inaccurate,” explains Dr. Andrew Le, CEO & co-founder of Buoy Health. “What ends up happening is patients going to the wrong care at the wrong time. With emergency room visits alone, 56% of them are non-urgent and about one-third could have been treated over the phone.”

Buoy is differentiated in the space of digital health assistants because of its ability to move forward from symptom analysis, and integrate actual information about employees’ benefits for guidance on how to best access and navigate a complex health care system.

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Many programs that employers offer as part of their health benefits are often underutilized because employees don’t know how to access them in a sea of options.

Many programs that employers offer as part of their health benefits are often underutilized because employees don’t know how to access them in a sea of options. Buoy can help create a path to these options (such as telemedicine or other in-network options that are part of an employee’s specific health benefits) as part of the employee’s personalized action plan for treatment. In addition, the platform also offers a custom profile page where employees can access a record of past ailments and benefit usage, to keep them going in the right direction – all from their personal device.

Employer showing employee new technology in the distance by pointing

Personal, continuous support for employees with chronic health conditions

For those who suffer from chronic conditions, support from mobile technology is truly life-changing. “When we thought about the use of technology, we said for these individuals really going through periods of vulnerability, the number-one thing we can do is to help people feel connected and cared for,” says Jake Sattelmair, CEO of Wellframe. “That means meeting emotional and relational needs, not just clinical and informational ones.”

Wellframe works with a health plan’s care management team to deliver daily tips and reminders to help those dealing with a chronic condition to stay on track, while also creating a secure platform within which an employee can communicate directly with a nurse care manager from their health plan, creating a multi-channel communication approach (and a direct human connection) to managing care and answering questions about benefits and coverage. Through Wellframe, employees can communicate directly with their health plan’s care team through HIPAA-compliant two-way messaging, SMS text, video chat, and email.

Apps that help support the targeted management of specific chronic conditions are also gaining popularity. GlucoseZone by FitScript is one such example. GlucoseZone by FitScript, an app that is available to all Harvard Pilgrim members in Connecticut, offers individuals living with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes digital consultations with a diabetes coach, who can then customize exercise and diet programs that take into consideration their real-time blood sugar levels, and help track success from a friendly, interactive screen.

When you actually provide patients with tools for fitness therapy that’s based on their real-time blood sugar levels and factor in their medications, you have astounding results.