Tap the health category of any smartphone’s app store and you’ll find options galore to keep the mind and body in tiptop shape. Over the past few years, demand has driven the health care app marketplace even further: From 2014 to 2016, the use of health and fitness apps grew from 16 to 33 percent, according to Anthem’s Trends in Health Benefits 2018 report.
Employers are “tapping” into that trend in the name of workplace wellness. Data from Anthem’s report showed that more than half of large employers offer a mobile health app to their employees.
Clearly, they’re on to something. Tech-enabled health apps can help employees increase their physical activity, improve their eating habits, mind their mental health and so much more — which can in turn improve workplace productivity and inform future benefits packages.
But which health and fitness apps should you encourage employees to use? The following top picks are a great place to start.
1. Monitor Eating and Exercise: Lose It!
While the name might imply that Lose It! is just for those looking to shed weight, the app’s all-in-one calorie and activity tracker can make a great tool for anyone who wants to keep tabs on their health and fitness — even if they want to maintain their current weight. With the free version, employees can search millions of foods and exercises to log daily. The paid version provides upgrades such as macronutrient tracking and meal plans.
2. Track Sleep Patterns: Sleep Cycle
A bad night’s sleep can take a toll not only on your employees, but on your business, too. But in the interest of staying up late and waking up early to pack things into the day, sleep health often takes a back seat to other priorities. Apps like Sleep Cycle can help.
By tracking sleep patterns, the app times alarms at exactly the right moment to wake users up at their lightest sleep phase, helping ease them into wakefulness in the morning. As a bonus: No wearable device needed.
3. Drink More Water: WaterMinder
For those looking for a clear, simple tool to increase water intake, this app’s the one. WaterMinder‘s reminders help users remember to drink more water and then log how many ounces they drank.
And with historical data, users can track their progress and hydration goals to spot patterns — like not drinking enough at certain times of the day or certain days when things tend to get busy. Plus, think of all the water cooler chats you’d help foster at the office!
4. Improve Mental Health: Woebot
Mental health plays a big role in overall health, and it’s something we could all improve. According to Deloitte, about 84 percent of American workers experience signs of poor mental health as a result, even if partially, of workplace factors. Enter Woebot, an artificial intelligence-powered chatbot app that can navigate users through evidence-based cognitive therapy techniques.
Employers beware, though. While Woebot can make a great addition to any employee’s app collection, it shouldn’t be used on a company-wide basis, given the data’s sensitive nature. But should they need support, do let workers know about Woebot as an option.
5. Connect With Doctors: LiveHealth Online
While apps like the ones listed so far can be great tools to help your employees engage in wellness habits and stay on track, at the end of the day there’s no substitute for talking to a real doctor. Luckily, there’s an app for that, too.
Anthem’s own LiveHealth Online offers users 24/7 access to a range of board-certified medical professionals, from physicians who can help your employees with physical symptoms (and even prescribe medications to treat those symptoms) to psychologists who can talk them through stress and anxiety. Convenient access to care providers means that your employees will be less likely to skip important appointments or ignore symptoms until they get worse. And the lower cost of telemedicine visits means that they can pay less for the same quality of care.
Getting Employees Engaged in a Health Care App
Health and fitness apps can improve workforce health, reduce health care costs and help employees become better health care consumers. But how can you nudge them toward downloading — and then using — the technology? A few easy-to-implement strategies include:
- Creating incentives for buying or using wearable fitness trackers
- Setting up contests or competitions among employee groups for bragging rights with a break room leaderboard to track progress
- Sending personalized messaging based on attitudes, behaviors or other available data
Later on, based on employees’ response to the health apps, you can even guide future benefits decisions. For example, send a survey to employees asking about their experience using the apps, including which features most supported them on their health journey. Then work to build in benefits that support those features, such as nutritional coaching or mental health coverage.
For more data, tips and actionable resources for workplace health and benefits, download Anthem’s free report: Trends in Health Benefits 2018.