Advances in technology are making waves across the healthcare landscape. Health solutions and initiatives are increasingly being designed with our digital lives in mind, and technology provides many opportunities for HR teams and businesses, to better understand and support employee health and wellbeing. Here are three benefits of using digital solutions in this area.
1. Understanding health status
Technology makes it easier than ever to track health data, and understand our current health status. Wearable technology, like Apple watches and Fitbits, can help us keep a check on our heart rate, sleep quality, physical activity, and even diet. As well as this, a vast range of wellbeing apps can help us track everything from mood to weight.
For employers, the value lies in being able to better understand employee health and where there might be concerns within the workplace. With this knowledge, employers can put the right tools in place to better support wellbeing – for example, dietary advice to support healthy eating or encouraging employees to get up from their desks more often, improving physical activity levels.
2. Monitoring symptoms
In a similar way, technology allows us to more accurately monitor health symptoms. Being able to monitor heart rate or sleep levels and spot changes in these, can help indicate health problems. Take mental health as an example. Monitoring the physical signs of mental illness, such as poor sleep or elevated heart rate, could help identify when someone might be struggling with stress or anxiety.
Certain health symptoms could also be indicative of greater issues with an organisation. If an employer could recognise a recurring problem with stress in their workforce, they could work towards pinpointing the causes – perhaps higher stress levels are within one particular job function, or workplace location. This information could allow employers to signpost and provide appropriate help to employees more efficiently.
3. Making access to healthcare easier
Perhaps the strongest benefit technology offers is easier access to health services. There are now so many ways we can reach the help and advice we need. And ample opportunities for employers to offer this support. Virtual GP services are growing in popularity – nearly a quarter of organisations offer access to GP services as a health and wellbeing benefit1. These services commonly offer virtual consultations via webcam or phone, and often on a 24/7 basis, allowing employees to speak to a GP at their convenience.
Plenty of solutions exist to support mental health too. Speaking to a counsellor face-to-face can be daunting for many. And traditional face-to-face counselling can be costly and timely. Access to counselling services, or an employee assistance programme is offered in three-fifths of organisations1. Employee assistance programmes often include online access to mental health professionals (through video calling, email or instant messaging), providing crucial ‘in the moment’ support.
We’ll be discussing more on the subject of technology and employee wellbeing, at next week’s EB Connect. Find out more about our huddle sessions here.
1. CIPD/Simplyhealth Health and Well-being at Work 2018 report