Employers can help their workforces to help themselves by providing well-being solutions that can fit with their busy lives
We live in an age where we’re busier than ever, with demanding work commitments and an active home life. Being time poor means we rely heavily on technology.
It’s no different when it comes to managing our health. When we’re in good health we want to maintain it. When we’re ill, we want to be seen right away and when we’ve been diagnosed with a health condition we want to be able to manage it. But where do we turn to for support? Our cash-strapped NHS is creaking at the seams and public confidence is low. One person in 10 says they do not believe the NHS is meeting their health needs.
More accessible, convenient healthcare is the driving force behind emerging digital health tools. With the progression of technology, employers can help engage their staff with their health, while providing support immediately for any healthcare concerns.
Assessing health risks
When looking at the overall health of your workforce, promoting and encouraging a better lifestyle while employees are in good general health is the key to preventing illnesses. Utilising tools that can help identify concerns in the workplace is a good starting point.
Healthcare providers are ideally placed to help improve the health risk profile of their clients’ staff. Many providers offer online tools such as Health Risk Assessments (HRAs). For the employer, an HRA can give insight into the overall health of their staff and identify priority areas that need improvement.
Managing health risks
Once healthcare risks have been identified, it’s important to consider how to provide self-management tools. Healthcare providers recognise the need for people to manage their health on the go. So, it’s no surprise to see an increase in the number of well-being apps being offered by healthcare providers.
Some even provide a one-stop access point. Cigna UK HealthCare Benefits is one provider who has moved beyond only treating people when they’re unwell. Cigna’s new app, Cigna Virtual Health™ enables employees to get and stay healthy and access care easily when it’s needed. Users can track their overall health and fitness by syncing their fitness tracker to the app. Key features include a symptom checker, virtual GP appointments and prescriptions delivered to the workplace or home for convenience to fit around busy lives.
App users can also enjoy a personalised experience using the ‘My Health Mate’ feature. It’s here that they’ll find a range of lifestyle coaching tools to help improve well-being based on an individual’s lifestyle and personality.
Users can take part in a health risk assessment, too. This provides immediate feedback, helping users to measure and manage their health status and take action to improve their health and well-being.
Accessing primary care
When illness strikes, it’s important to support your employees quickly.
Virtual consultations are a great example of an emerging service that can help to ease the pressure on GPs. This technology enables GPs to consult with patients over a secure online video call on their smartphone or tablet, making health advice and support more accessible than ever.
Minor illnesses such as colds and flu, stomach upsets and migraines are a major drain on NHS primary care and account for 71% of sickness absences in the workplace. Yet these illnesses are quick to diagnosis and treat. For those who need GP advice but are time poor, virtual appointments remove the barriers of time and distance. They also offer another solution to meet the pressures of sickness absence.
Working in partnership
Online and mobile technology is clearly becoming the healthcare delivery mechanism of the future. Emerging healthcare provider solutions are designed to make access easier, to improve health, to avoid hospital admission (or re-admission) and to lower health care costs.
Employers who harness these tools can only stand to benefit from reduced healthcare plan utilisation and sickness absence savings. Together, we can navigate to better health.
For more information about Cigna Virtual Health™ please visit www.cigna.co.uk/virtualhealth
Cigna study – Cigna 360 Well-being Score Survey, September 2015, 1000 UK responses; www.pulsetoday.co.uk/your-practice/practice-topics/access/average-gpappointment-waiting-times-to-hit-two-weeks-by-next-year/20009238.fullarticle