How to Use Wearables to Reduce Healthcare Costs | BenefitsPRO

How to Use Wearables to Reduce Healthcare Costs |  BenefitsPRO

A large number of health plans and employers have been taking advantage of smartwatches for years. They encourage members and employees to increase exercise by tracking daily steps, creating exercise challenges between friends and teams, and increasing overall employee health.

Indeed, United Healthcare recently offered an advantage of up to $1,000 per year for selected employers and fully insured clients if they would share certain data elements with them, such as steps, sleep and activity, and also reach certain goals, such as 15 minutes of daily exercise.

But now employers can go one step further. When AI and machine learning are applied, it is now possible to deliver early detection certain metabolic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and atrial fibrillation using data from standard smart watches.

The benefits of early detection of the condition can be significant. The total cost of care savings for early detection of A-fib can be up to $10,355 per year. In addition, conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and sleep apnea can generate savings 2,341 dollars and $2,864 annually.

Companies are now beginning to realize the potential benefits of integrating these devices and mobile health apps into their health benefits, not only to promote employee health, but also to reduce healthcare costs.

In fact, by integrating wearables into health plans, businesses have the ability to not only reduce healthcare costs, but also help combat burnout and other chronic health issues. I have seen firsthand how this technology can assist in health education to enable positive lifestyle changes for employees and subsequently radically shift the culture of the company as a whole.

Reducing healthcare costs by integrating wearables into health plans

Incorporating the use of wearable devices into employee health plans can result in significant cost savings for both employers and employees. By providing digital platforms for employee health and even wearables themselves, companies have the opportunity to encourage employees to monitor their own health and make informed lifestyle decisions, promoting greater well-being.

With the right mobile health app, smartwatches can also give employees the ability to track various health metrics, such as their heart rate, sleep patterns, and physical activity levels. Some health apps also have pre-diagnostic technology that can accurately inform users of their risk levels for specific health conditions.

Using this detailed self-monitoring and proactive technology, employees can then identify potential health problems and seek preventive care before their condition escalates into more serious problems. All of this ultimately means more autonomy in health and wellness and less absenteeism. And when employees use this technology for preventative wellness, it also helps reduce health care costs, as early treatment of disease typically requires less advanced medical intervention than would be needed at later stages.

Additionally, companies can use mobile health apps and smartwatches to create incentive programs that reward employees for adopting healthier habits. Examples of these programs include participating in regular physical activity, reducing sedentary time, and maintaining a healthy weight. These incentives can be in the form of reduced premiums, bonuses or other wellness-related benefits. By promoting healthier behaviors, companies can then reduce the risk of chronic diseases and other health problems, resulting in lower health care costs.

Use of wearable devices to reduce insurance premiums

Fully insured companies that implement wellness programs with wearables can often negotiate lower premiums because insurers recognize the benefits of a healthier workforce. By demonstrating a commitment to employee health and well-being, companies can enjoy lower insurance costs, which can contribute to overall health care cost savings.

By harnessing the power of smartwatch technology, companies can ultimately promote a culture of wellness and promote a healthier and more productive workforce by encouraging employees to engage in regular physical activity, manage stress and maintain a balanced diet. And of course, supporting a healthier workforce means companies can expect lower absenteeism, higher productivity, and ultimately lower health care costs.

Using wearable technology to combat burnout and health issues

Burnout and stress-related health issues can have a significant impact on employee productivity, morale and overall well-being. In fact, workplace stress is becoming an epidemic 83% of American workers suffers from it.

Those who experience chronic stress are also prone to higher risks of developing it serious heart conditions. Wearable devices can help combat these issues by allowing employees to monitor stress levels, sleep patterns and other vital signs that may indicate potential health problems.

By leveraging mobile health apps and smartwatch technology, employers can create targeted wellness initiatives that focus on stress management, mental health support, and the right work-life balance.

For example, some companies have implemented meditation and relaxation programs that include smartwatches to monitor employees’ stress levels and provide feedback on the effectiveness of these initiatives. Some mobile health apps offer step contests that encourage everyone in the office to take a minimum number of steps each day, which has been shown to reduce stress levels.

Any of these and similar programs can play a critical role in promoting a healthier work environment, reducing burnout, and minimizing stress-related health problems.

Promoting a positive lifestyle through wearable technology

Mobile health apps use the wealth of data provided by smartwatches to further educate employees about their health and empower them to adopt healthier lifestyles. Companies can use this data to create targeted wellness programs that meet the specific needs of their employees, such as nutrition workshops, exercise and mental health support groups.

Some mobile health apps also have features that allow users to send their data to a doctor or enable remote monitoring. In this way, clinicians can closely monitor staff vital signs and incoming data to ensure that any suggested lifestyle changes are not only adopted and adhered to, but also have the intended positive impact. Based on ongoing data, relevant changes to employee health plans can be made in real time, improving their overall health outcomes.

Related: The high cost of dying can have a negative impact on employee health

Wearables represent a truly unique opportunity for companies to promote employee health, reduce healthcare costs and promote a healthier work environment. By incorporating these devices into health plans, focusing on combating burnout, and using health education, employers can empower their employees to live healthier lives and create an overall healthier workplace culture.

David Smith he is the president illumivawhich provides healthcare decision support applications using real-time data from smartphones and standard smartwatches for health plans and employers.

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