Technology is still leading the revolution in workplace health.
There is a whole range of new innovations being created on a daily basis. The vast connectivity capabilities of the world today makes sharing ideas so much easier, while the multiplication of crowdfunding channels has given everyone the opportunity to raise investment for the next big thing.
Here this article will examine the top 5 tech trends that will take health and wellbeing to the next level, and make a real impact on employees.
Allergy and DNA testing
More people than ever are allergic or sensitive to certain foods or environmental factors.
There is a new approach to testing that provides tailored results to help individuals understand health issues and genetic risks. The allergy testing looks at 100+ ingredients and gives insight into potential allergies or sensitivities.
This is supported by DNA testing, which indicates whether a person is at risk of certain illnesses based on their genetic make-up. This testing does not restrict by age and is becoming widely available as the trends for personalised medicine and design dosage gather momentum.
>See also: The future of IT in the healthcare sector
This approach encapsulates the zeitgeist in consumer behaviour, the boom in demand for fully personalised or tailored services.
And employee benefits are not immune; employers are seeing an increased demand from clients for a more personalised benefits approach – driven for the most part by employees.
This preference was also visible in the results of the Global Employee Benefits Watch 16/17 research, which found that one third of employees rank a flexible work schedule as the most influential factor in their job satisfaction.
3D printing / biological printing
It’s unlikely the hype around 3D printing has escaped you.
You can print an amazing array of objects such as toys, cameras and even cars.
However, 3D printing is now being harnessed in the healthcare arena to create casts, prosthetics, learning aides and even implantable devices, such as pace makers.
If providers can exploit this technology, it will make treatments more accessible and affordable. It’s an incredibly exciting concept and, although still in its infancy, is poised to change the healthcare market for years to come.
Merging consumer-office tech
The device mesh is the connectivity between multiple tools such as phones, laptops, car computers and other electronic devices.
Gartner’s research indicated this is a key workplace trend for 2016, but it can expand further by the creation of a “home of the future” style network.
So many people use apps these days, integrating these into their daily home lives to monitor and influence their heating, lighting, internet and sleep.
These devices have the ability to talk to each other, working in a mesh to enable users to compile a complete picture about their daily living and health habits. They can use this information to benefit their health and wellbeing.
>See also: How big data is transforming healthcare
The way that employees use technology is also driving shifts in the way benefits are delivered and communicated.
There’s huge demand for systems to be device agnostic and responsive, so that employees can access their benefits anywhere at any time – be they on their lunch hour, or at home in front of the TV.
In a world increasingly influenced by data, there is growing pressure for suppliers and producers to have evolving data security measures in place to guarantee the safety of sensitive information.
Wearable technology is already popular, but the insights generated could also be harnessed more effectively. Imagine if we could all learn from each other’s data and improve our health as a result of sharing information?
The smart phone revolution allows self-testing/diagnosis
Apps are useful but a recent trend has seen people go even further and use equipment integrated with apps and technology devices to understand their health better.
Products such as thermometers, stethoscopes and blood pressure monitors that plug into or talk to smart phones are helping individuals understand their own state of health.
Communication tools are also being established that help people utilise the power of a network of medical professionals to diagnose and support healthcare needs. This is a development of online GP products, and sees people proactively managing their health without strain on national health services.
What these mean for workplace health
The one theme that ties in all the above trends is personalisation.
Being able to tailor benefits that cater for an employee as an individual, with their own unique personal needs is the way to ensure that those benefits really work.
In the future, these trends will very likely be our reality, although employers may not be able to offer them to their staff just yet.
As an HR or reward professional, you’ll be used to considering the industry of workplace benefits and how healthcare impacts this, but it’s also key you develop your own strategy, one that is aligned to your company goals.
Take a step back from specific benefits and ask yourself what is it you want to provide for your people? Are you looking to offer health services to fix something when it goes wrong or improve/ maintain their state of health? Or both?
Putting in place global and local strategies for your company to aim for will ensure your benefits serve a purpose and genuinely suit your employees’ needs. If you already have a strategy in place when was the last time you reviewed in detail whether the benefits you’re providing actually meet this?
It shouldn’t just be a benefits checklist – transformation is a business imperative. And, when embarking on benefits transformation, you need to keep three key elements front of mind; relevance, convenience and communications.
If your employees know about the health and wellbeing benefits you’re offering them, they’re relevant to their personal situations and they can access and alter them whenever they like, they’ll engage with, and most importantly appreciate them.
Sourced by Jack Curzon, head of scheme design at Thomsons Online Benefits