With more than 181 million Americans depending on employer-sponsored health plans to access care, HR and benefits leaders have a critical responsibility when it comes to the health and well-being of their people. And, as we emerge from a pandemic, people have become more conscious and proactive about their health, both mental and physical. As a result, a fundamental shift has taken place in the kinds of health and wellness benefits that people expect from their employer. Today’s workforce is no longer satisfied with the standard health insurance plans, especially with today’s fierce competition for talent. Leaders who are crafting their organization’s benefits plans need to take this shift into consideration and uplevel their health benefits stacks to create a more proactive health culture within their organization.
Digital therapeutics are proving to be a key asset in achieving a proactive health culture in which people want to work and improve employee perceptions of their employer. In fact, a Thomsons survey found that over 80% of employees with accessible benefits feel more loyal to their employer.
More and more companies are catching on to this preference and starting to weave digital therapeutics into their benefits plans.
What Is Digital Therapeutic Technology?
Digital therapeutics are evidence-based technologies designed to give people direct access to treatments, support, or guidance for health issues. They can address a wide range of health conditions—anything from mental health concerns like anxiety to chronic conditions like heart disease or diabetes. Offering digital therapeutics as an employee benefit can be a great strategy for creating a proactive health culture that not only promotes a happy workforce but also drives positive long-term health outcomes for employees and lowers an organization’s high-cost claims. It can even move the needle on improving diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), given care gaps across race and gender.
Increased Health Awareness and Accessibility
Creating awareness is the first step to building a more proactive health culture. However, it’s important to move beyond a one-size-fits-all approach to health awareness because health doesn’t take a one-size-fits-all approach. Take heart health as an example. Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States and a top health priority for employers, but there are significant gender gaps in cardiac care in large part due to a lack of awareness. Only half of women are aware that heart disease is the leading cause of death for women. An even more alarming statistic is that women wait nearly 40 minutes longer to call for help than men when experiencing heart attack symptoms.
Digital therapeutic technologies can improve health awareness by delivering vital information that is catered to the individual based on factors like gender, race, age, or even health habits. Also, digital therapeutics are often accessible to employees via a mobile app. This level of accessibility puts personalized education directly into the hands of employees, which can strengthen the impact of an organization’s health awareness efforts; improve DEI efforts, given care gaps across demographics; and lay the foundation for a stronger proactive health culture.
Turning Personalized Awareness into Action
Digital therapeutic technologies also drive education into action with capabilities like interactive tools that help employees develop healthier habits and better manage their health. Similar to how the education aspect can be personalized, actionable guidance can be personalized down to the individual, too. Many digital therapeutics in the market today leverage artificial intelligence (AI)-driven technology to make this possible.
AI-powered digital therapeutic technology can connect the dots on how a person’s actions are impacting his or her health and then offer relevant guidance to build or maintain healthy habits, which may help reduce the risk of developing more serious conditions. By offering employees digital therapeutic technologies that help them establish a healthier lifestyle, whether it’s for their mental health or their physical health, organizations can lower healthcare-related costs by potentially reducing the need for expensive or avoidable procedures. There’s truth to the phrase “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Improving the health and well-being of employees is an indisputable top priority for leaders, and honing a focus on preventive health is a strong strategy. By putting digital therapeutics into the hands of employees, organizations can create an actionable benefits ecosystem that moves the needle on preventive health. As HR and benefits leaders evaluate their benefits strategies, it’s critical to identify high-cost health concerns and introduce digital therapeutics that can address these issues in a personal, accessible, and intuitive way.
Valarie Arismendez is SVP of People at Hello Heart, the only digital therapeutic that focuses exclusively on heart health.