Survey: Disconnect between employers, employees when it comes to digital health offerings

By Laura Lovett
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A new digital health survey released by showed that while both employers and employees are enthusiastic about the future of digital health, there is a gap between what tech is being provided by employers and what the employees actually want. 

Employers surveyed reported that employee assistance programs, smoking cessation programs, and health risk assessment were among the most popular digital health offerings. On the other hand, weight loss and saving for retirement were the most popular goals among employees. 

“Employers continue to offer mature solutions even though they clearly do not meet any employee top health goals,” the authors of the survey wrote. “This is obviously a sub-optimal situation, and highlights significant misalignment. In the consumer world, and now in digital health, employees expect their technology to be personalized and tailored. It is difficult to imagine that employers can continue to exclusively offer solutions that do not meet their employees’ top needs, wants, or expectations.” 

This disconnect is shown in the numbers: 37 percent of employees said they accessed health technology directly by themselves, 27 percent said they access the tech through their healthcare plan, and only 20 percent accessed it through their employer, according to the survey. 

Eighty-two percent of employers surveyed said that they were offering smoking cessation programs, yet 89 percent of employees said that they were not using any technology for smoking cessation (the survey did not clarify whether these respondents were or were not active smokers). 

On the other hand, financial wellness and activity tracking were the fastest growing areas for employer offerings. These seem to be inline with employee's reported health goals, losing weight and saving for retirement. 

If the technology service was provided to employees for free, 73 percent said they would use it for helping them save for retirement. Improving nutrition, sleeping better, and walking more were tied for the second most popular way employees said they would use free benefits technology. 

The survey also showed that employees of all ages were engaged with digital health. In fact, the survey showed 83 percent of millennials, 77 percent of Gen Xers, and 73 percent of baby boomers are using at least one type of technology to meet their health goals. Weight loss was the most popular use of tech by all three groups. 

“Despite the array of solutions and life stages, boomers, Gen Xers, and millennials have similar health goals and desire to use digital health,” the authors of the study wrote. 

Authors of the survey said employers can learn from these results to address the reported disconnect. 

“It is still just the beginning for digital health in the workplace. Employers must offer consumer grade, technology-driven, comprehensive benefits to employees and their dependents to remain competitive,” the authors of the survey wrote. “There is a way to make this easier. To successfully procure, launch, and sustain digital health in the workplace, an employer should consider: using data to align investment with employer objectives, meeting employees where they are in their health journeys, and leveraging platform technology.” 

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