Since 2020, the health and wellness sector has seen a major shift. Before deemed as a nice thing to have, wellbeing is now at the top of our priority lists. These changes have influenced the rapid rise in popularity of digital health solutions.
These futuristic technologies are ideal for a remote world like ours. With medical apps, software, artificial intelligence, machine learning, etc., digital health can improve:
- health outcomes
- health diagnosis
- prevention of diseases
In recent times, digital health has made its way into workplace wellness programs as well. Employers now focus on implementing digital health solutions for employees' wellbeing.
Let us learn about digital healthcare and its significance in the corporate workspace.
- What is Digital Health
- Digital Health as a Revolution
- Digital Healthcare Importance
- Digital Healthcare Solutions Benefits
- Digital Health Companies Leading the Revolution
- The Australian Digital Health Agency
- Reasons Employers Should Invest in Digital Health
- Digital Healthcare Innovations for a Healthier and Engaged Workforce
- The Bottomline
What is Digital Health?
Digital health is the application of technologies in the healthcare industry. It uses disruptive technology to improve and advance health and wellbeing solutions. It brings about efficient, personalized, and precise healthcare solutions.
The World Health Organization has proposed a Global Strategy on Digital Health 2020-2025. This strategy will help promote healthy lives for everyone everywhere.
The organization defines digital health in its own terms. It is the practice of developing and using digital technologies to improve health.
These technologies include:
- Electronic Health (eHealth)
- Mobile Health (mHealth)
- AR and VR
- Smart Wearables
- Artificial Intelligence
- Electronic Health Record
Digital Health as a Revolution
With passing time, the digital health era will transform the concept of being healthy. Here’s why:
- The health industry will become much more consumer-centric and customer-centric.
- Big tech companies like Amazon, Google, and Apple, are investing in digital healthcare.
- Industries like retail, tourism, and lifestyle will converge with the healthcare delivery service.
- There will be a surge in health-related data collected from different devices.
- Data analytics and algorithms will help health providers to diagnose and treat diseases.
- Boundaries between physical health, mental health, aged care, and disability sectors will reduce.
Digital Healthcare: Importance
The health system depends on emerging technologies to deal with diseases and patients.
Modern workplaces cannot ignore the role of digital health services and products. These technologies ensure holistic employee health and wellness.
Products like fitness trackers and wearables benefit both health professionals and employees.
These keep track of health data like heartbeats and blood pressure levels. Such features help in the early diagnosis of diseases – both existing and new.
By checking their vitals, people make conscious efforts to maintain a healthier lifestyle. This in turn reduces visits to their physicians.
This is especially relevant in recent times. Remote counseling with healthcare providers has now become the preferable option.
For instance, with telehealth facilities, employees can connect to a mental health professional. They can work on troubling issues, personal and professional.
Thus, digital health tools help to:
- ease-out symptoms quicker
- reduce the time in getting treatment
- improve the quality of life
- reduce healthcare costs
Digital Healthcare Solutions: Benefits
Using digital technology in the healthcare sector has several benefits. Below is a list of the major benefits:
- Consumers are always aware of their health vitals. This helps them to seek professional help at the earliest.
- It makes health care accessible to all.
- It can reduce costs involved in health care.
- It gives patients and consumers a much more personalized experience.
Digital Health Companies Leading the Revolution
Companies like Google, Apple, and Amazon, are leading the revolution in digital health. How? By investing in futuristic projects and solutions.
Take Google for example. The company has maintained a steady foothold in the digital health market. Especially through wearables and platforms like Google Wear and Fit. DeepMind is another project by Google that uses artificial intelligence in healthcare.
Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has a health sciences unit called Verily. The unit overlooks many health projects like Project Baseline and the Aurora study.
The former is an extensive study of human health. The latter attempts to identify physical biomarkers to mental trauma in human beings.
Another critical project by the health sciences unit is the setting up of Terra. Terra is an open-source cloud computing research platform. It stores and analyses massive biomedical datasets worldwide. Cloud computation of health data is a whole new avenue in the digitization space.
Terra has been helpful for researchers to understand new biomarkers in Parkinson's Disease. Moreover, researchers use this platform to understand the geographical spread of COVID-19 variants.
Apple is looking to improve the functionality of its Apple Watch. Its new features such as ECG and fall detection help in this direction. Doing so will help the company expand its presence in the wearables market soon.
Amazon, too, has been making efforts to remake the healthcare delivery system in the US.
The Australian Digital Health Agency
The Australian government recognizes the increasing relevance of digital health systems and strategies. It aims to create modern, accessible, and innovative healthcare in the country.
Hence, in January 2016, they formed the Australian Digital Health Agency. Before this, it was the National E-Health Transition Authority.
The agency has several programs and initiatives running, including:
My Health Record
National Children’s Digital Health Collaborative
The agency handles the My Health Record (MHR) of Australian citizens. MHR is the national digital healthcare database that includes:
Health referral systems
The popularity and accountability of MHR in Australia are such that:
- 95% of all public hospitals use MHR
- 93% of pharmacies use MHR
The agency offers COVID-19 support by determining if someone is eligible for vaccination. This is possible with the help of the information stored in their records.
Reasons Employers Should Invest in Digital Health
Even before the pandemic, health care was making the shift towards digital technology. Post pandemic, this shift has become much faster and more transparent.
Thus, you too need to make the shift when focusing on employee health. Your company’s wellness program should opt for digital healthcare solutions.
Here are a few reasons why investing in digital health is a wise decision:
1. Improves Access, Management, and Storage of Data
Store employees' health data and information in the cloud with digital healthcare solutions.
One can access this data without any hassle of looking from drawers to shelves. Your employees can keep an electronic record of their health vitals. This is possible with the data available through wearable devices or mHealth applications.
Look at this data. Incorporate any necessary features or policies in the company wellness program.
For instance, if you notice that many employees suffer from diabetes. Replace the processed food in the office cafeteria with healthy lunch options.
Likewise, you can set a weekly step target for employees as a part of the company's fitness challenge. Reward active participants with incentives for some external motivation!
2. Gives Employees Personalized Healthcare
With digital solutions, you can give your employees a personalized experience in healthcare.
Every employee has different needs based on his health conditions. For instance, a few employees might suffer workplace depression or work-related anxiety. But, others might be going through physical ailments like diabetes or posture-related problems.
Thanks to the convenience of digital healthcare platforms, this won't be a problem. Each employee can choose the health goal they want to target.
mHealth applications are beneficial in such cases. Customers can choose preventive strategies they want to adopt for themselves.
So, digital health is the one-stop solution for many health issues in your workplace.
3. Information Available Across Many Platforms
Unlike traditional records, electronic health records are not lost in some old registers. They are available across many platforms.
This allows easy sharing of employee or patient records with either:
the office administration
an onsite or offsite health professional
Employees will send and receive information on devices like laptops and mobiles. With such easy transmission, access to data becomes more effortless and time-saving.
4. Encourages Employees to Lead a Healthier Lifestyle
Digital health solutions are a source of great motivation and encouragement for employees.
When employees observe a fall on their health vitals, encourage them to take action.
Moreover, seeing their progress in real-time can push them into action, such as:
taking proper nutrition
following an appropriate sleep cycle, etc.
5. Make Healthcare More Accessible for Remote Employees
A significant benefit of investing in digital healthcare: ability to reach remote employees.
Traditional health and wellbeing strategies might be available onsite alone. This limitation makes these strategies out of reach for employees working at home.
In a post-pandemic world, the digitization of these strategies has become essential. Digital health services allow smooth and frictionless communication for:
Facilities like telehealth have become absolute necessities with so many remote employees.
According to the Global Market Insights report, the market of digital technology in the healthcare industry will grow up to $639.4bn by 2026. Another report by Research and Markets predicts that the mobile health market will be $189bn by 2025.
Digital Healthcare Innovations for a Healthier and Engaged Workforce
With digital health services, the scope of facilities that companies can provide broadens. The scope is much more than the traditional health insurance benefits and plans. With these technologies as a part of your wellness plan, engaged employees are a given!
A Mercer research shows that workers want to try 8 out of 15 digital healthcare innovations.
The COVID-19 pandemic would only increase this number among workers. Here are five digital innovations that can be useful in the workplace:
1. Telehealth Services
In 2020, 46% of US customers opted for telehealth instead of visiting physicians.
Providing telehealth facilities to employees would help with:
- remote diagnosis
- remote consultations
- remote treatments with certified health professionals
When they do not step out for medical help, they are less likely to stress about getting infected with the virus. Moreover, the time saved can be the time they engage in their work.
2. Mental Health Support
Mental health support for all workers has become a must in these challenging times. Several factors increase workplace stress in employees:
- worrying about the COVID-19 virus
- adjusting to the routines of working from home
- struggling to maintain a work-life balance
- witnessing acquaintances getting laid off
- getting sick
Employers can aid in improving employees’ mental health by:
- providing subscriptions to virtual yoga sessions
- hiring a counselor or therapist for virtual consultations, etc.
Related Article: How Managers Can Support Mental Health in the Workplace
3. Virtual Walkathons and Marathons
Thanks to the pandemic, participating in traditional marathons looks like a distant dream. But, employees can still take part in fun activities with co-workers.
Related Article: 5 Ultimate Reasons to Offer Virtual Wellness Programs
Employers can organize virtual marathons and walkathons in their companies. This is possible with a virtual wellness platform. Employees run or walk at their own pace, and at the preferred time of the day. They can keep track of their own and their peers' progress through a fitness app. You can also keep track of their health status in real-time.
With Vantage Fit, you can create customized virtual walkathons and marathons for employees. Reap the endless benefits of a healthy, motivated, and engaged workforce.
4. Women Support
The pandemic has been especially hard on women employees. There is a lot of stress from the combined responsibilities and duties at home and work alike. This takes a toll on their reproductive health and period health.
Employers can arrange for a Women’s Support Helpline within their organization. Such a helpline will guide and support women through COVID-19 complications. They can also answer questions on reproductive health, prenatal and postnatal care, etc.
Related Article: 9 Best Ways to Support Women's Health At Work
5. Digital Health Assistant
Ever heard of a Digital Health Assistant?
It is a phone app that can function as a personalized guide for employees. It helps them in various medical activities like:
managing medications and symptoms, monitoring health vitals and nutrition, etc.
Encourage employees to try these assistant-like apps. Managing their health, and achieving their health goals will become much easier.
Digital healthcare can revolutionize the way we achieve our health and wellness goals. So, it is not at all surprising that the healthcare industry uses 30.3% of IoT devices.
It is high time for employers to invest in and deploy digital health strategies in the workplace.
Digitization of health services will bring about holistic wellness of employees.
Get started on your digital health journey. What are you waiting for?