Five new innovations that are changing the way that employers can look after the wellbeing of their workforce

 

Even before coronavirus, there were strong signs that employees wanted the companies they work for to provide digital health benefits. Our research  showed that workers would try eight digital solutions out of 15 proposed, including options for self-care, diagnosis and condition management.

 


 

 

Of course, the Covid-19 pandemic has meant that digital health has an even greater role to play for the workforce. Globally, more than 2.6 million people are facing some sort of lockdown. This has meant many people are unable or unwilling to get appropriate healthcare. Millions of patients have had routine care delayed and have seen hospitals cancel non-urgent surgeries.

 

Unsurprisingly, demand for digital health has seen a corresponding spike. Our research showed that over half of workers globally were willing to try telemedicine for a simple health issue like a rash or a cold or for a significant health issue like diabetes.  Post-COVID, this has become a necessity for many.

 

The good news is there have been significant innovations in digital health and wellbeing and the market for these solutions is thriving. 68% of employers globally expect to increase their investment in this area, while 40% of employees say they would be more likely to stay with a company that offers digital solutions.

 

Compared to traditional insurance based benefit plans organizations can now access a wider range of products and services, including specialized solutions for maternity care or autism as well as more general offerings to support the physical, mental, social and financial wellbeing of employees and their loved ones. In many markets, MMB offers digital health and wellbeing solutions tailored to local population health needs and cultures.  

 

Access to telemedicine and digital health services

 

In Singapore, our soon to be launched wellbeing app motivates employees to engage with relevant employer and employee paid physical, mental and financial health and wellbeing solutions. It is a configurable app with features that can be turned on or off at the employer level.  Not only will it help employers differentiate their employment value proposition, improve employee productivity and manage healthcare costs and will help employees access convenient, affordable, personalized and secure.

 

Similarly, MMB’s solution in Canada is an affordable, flexible platform that consolidates well-being resources and benefits to support physical, mental, financial, and social health and wellbeing.

 

Organizations gain access to a wide array of trusted providers as well as personalized action planning and preferred pricing, giving their employees a service that is available anywhere and at any time.

 

Employers using the portal can choose from a menu of resources including:

  • Virtual Care, a portal to help connect you with a health care practitioner via the phone or video conferencing.
  • Online fitness classes and coaching
  • A healthy sleep program
  • Access to Care, an easy-to-use directory of health care practitioners
  • Genetic counselling and testing
  • Local retail discounts
  • Preferred pricing for legal support and insurance products

 

Providing mental health support

 

Isolation and lockdown have meant that many workers are struggling with mental health issues such as stress, anxiety and depression. Research in the United States found that 70 per cent of people feel nervous, anxious or on-edge, while 40 per cent say they feel depressed1.

 

As a result, access to mental health care is becoming an increasingly important resource. Our research shows that 49 per cent of workers are willing to try virtual mental health counselling via video chat to address mental health issues.

 

Some employers have offered a telephonic COVID-19 crisis hotline allows employees to call, text or email a counselor for “in the moment” mental health support. Staff can make unlimited telephone calls to access clinician-led support sessions for help with stress and anxiety. All calls include a risk check screening to determine the emotional state of the caller.

 

The service also provides telephonic HR consultation sessions to help managers encourage employees to access to support.

 

In Brazil, our new digital offering embeds mental health treatment, opening up access to care to many.  It also includes access to other virtual care options, curates wellbeing content and includes personal considerations and tools for deciding whether you should return to the physical workplace during COVID. 

 

Helping women

 

Evidence suggests that coronavirus is hitting women particularly hard. In addition to bearing the brunt of expanded caregiving duties, reproductive health, prenatal, and postnatal care have been severely disrupted, and there has been an explosion in need for basic telemedicine and prenatal support as women become reluctant to visit doctors and hospitals in person.

 

A Women’s Health solution can provide unlimited virtual access to a women's and family health telemedicine network for maternity members. It also gives pregnant women access to Covid-19-specific maternity support and a 24/7 care advocate team to help navigate in-person care and questions.

 

Holistic wellbeing and social isolation

 

Many people are feeling extremely isolated and concerned for their wellbeing during the pandemic. While some are concerned about physical health, there are also significant worries about finances, mental health and even loss of jobs.

 

In the UK, MMB is introducing a holistic wellbeing approach that brings together different communities into one social hub providing carefully curated content focused on mental, physical and financial insight for staff.

 

It is built on social community - keeping people connected - and uses gamification techniques to keep engagement high and help people build healthier habits. The news feed has both formal and informal content allowing colleagues to get to know one another but also ensures company strategy and culture updates are visible.

 

The time is right for digital health

 

Introducing digital services during the coronavirus pandemic can help employers to support staff during this difficult time. In fact, the COVID return to work companion application  provided by our sister company Oliver Wyman will help acquaint people with the possibilities for digital in managing health.  In turn, this can help businesses recover lost productivity due to sick days or mental health issues.

 

Once the pandemic has passed, some staff members will want more face-to-face services, but digital offerings can still be a fantastic tool to help facilitate this.

 

These digital health programs should not be offered in isolation. They need to be part of an overall health and well-being strategy executed with business support, role models/champions, and complementary workplace health policies and procedures.

 

To read more about the both the employer and employee perspective on digital health solutions, read the MMB Health on Demand report.

 

https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/03/30/people-financially-affected-by-covid-19-outbreak-are-experiencing-more-psychological-distress-than-others/

Amy Laverock
Amy Laverock

Strategic Initiatives and Solutions Leader, Mercer Marsh Benefits