What is a Digital Health Assistant?
And Why Your Employees Need One Now
Most employees find managing their health difficult.
They are not very good at being compliant with taking medications, adhering to treatment protocols or conducting timely provider follow-ups. They need new tools and services for better managing their health.
That’s where digital health assistants come in. They are simple and personalized guides for your employees to take charge of their health. Think of these tools as confidential “assistants” for managing medications, disease conditions, vitals, labs, nutrition, and symptoms — all in one place.
Help your employees help themselves. And realize a higher value of your health benefit spend.
The bad news — the healthcare labyrinth
Managing one’s health and navigating the healthcare labyrinth is difficult for employees. With its multiple stakeholders (payers, providers, pharmacy, pharma, labs, hospitals etc.), care complexity (acute episodes vs chronic conditions), provider types (specialty and sub-specialties) and treatment protocols, healthcare is tough to understand and navigate for your employees.
According to a 2020 Harris poll*¹, 62% of consumers believe the healthcare system is designed to be confusing while 67% said they have to manage so many care-related tasks that they “feel like a general contractor”.
And, not surprisingly, consumers are not good general contractors — they fall short in seeking follow-up care or complying with instructions:
● 80% don’t read or understand medication instructions*²
● 55% chronic patients miss or drop off treatment in the first year*²
● 20% experience adverse events within 3 weeks of discharge*³
● 50% avoid seeking care because it’s too difficult or they forget*¹
The good news — the healthcare digital revolution
You would have had to be living in a cave or sleeping for 20 years like Rip Van Winkle to have missed out on the digital revolution underway in healthcare. At last check, there were 400,000 digital health apps*⁴ and 720 million wearable devices*⁵ in 2019.
Connected health, virtual care, remote care management, telehealth, Watson, artificial intelligence, smart pill boxes, even chip-enabled pills you can pop — the list goes on — of where healthcare is headed. Smarter, specialized, always-on technologies with digitally connected systems and monitors that pre-warn before things go bad — that’s the new world for us.
New entrants and existing healthcare players will continue innovating into this new world. It’s healthcare transformation on steroids, and digital healthcare is all around us.
The imperative — getting employees involved in the revolution
Not having your employees be good general contractors in their health can be a problem for your business. After all, you pay for and provide healthcare benefits to your employees and keeping them healthy is critical for your business.
The digital revolution provides you the ability to bring the tools, services and capabilities to your employees to start becoming better general contractors and improving their care follow-ups as well as adherence to provider instructions. You can educate and engage them in their health.
The tool — the digital health assistant
So, you ask — what in the world is a digital health assistant? An app? An assistant? A coach? A guide? A diary?
And the answer — Yes. It’s all of those.
It’s a smart-phone app for your employees to download. It’s an assistant for managing health interactions with providers. It’s a coach that provides education. It’s a guide that tells what precautions to take with medications. It’s a diary for monitoring vitals and symptoms to share with providers. It is a way for employees to be in control of their health. It helps employees be a better “general contractor” by bringing together multiple dimensions in one place –medications, disease conditions, labs, vitals, nutrition, and symptoms.
It’s about compliance. It’s about taking charge. It’s about your employees.
*¹ Healthcare Finance, Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor, July 2020, Half of consumers avoid seeking care because it’s too difficult
*² Consumer Reports: National Research Center survey of 1,947 adults, April 2017 and McKinsey: Improving Patient Adherence Through Data-Driven Insights, Dec 2018
*³ US Dept of Health and Human Services, Readmissions and Adverse Events After Discharge 2019, Wolters Kluwer Hospital Discharge & Readmissions 2020
*⁴ Imaginovation 2020, How many apps are out there
*⁵ Statista Research, Jan 2020, Connected Wearable Devices
By Sanjiv Luthra, EVP of Employer Health