Stephanie Dwilson

What You Need to Know About Engaging Employees With Health Apps

Health apps have flooded the market, numbering in the hundreds of thousands. It’s a lot to sort through, and employees can feel overwhelmed by the options. That’s a shame, because a well-chosen app can help employees meet their health and wellness goals, saving on health care costs for both them and their employers.

When it comes to health care, your employees want your advice. But if you look for apps that might benefit your employees, what’s stopping you from being just as overwhelmed as your workforce? Here are two things you need to understand to find health apps that truly engage your employees.

Understand Where Gaps Exist

Despite the number of wellness and health plan apps available to consumers, important needs are falling through the cracks. Why? It boils down to three main factors:

  1. Health care is confusing. According to one survey, only 4 percent of Americans could define the terms “deductible,” “copay,” “coinsurance” and “out-of-pocket maximum.” And the Society for Human Resource Management reports that nearly half of employees find health insurance decisions “very stressful,” while 20 percent regret the benefits choices they make.
  2. There are too many resources. An abundance of resources may sound like a good thing, but are they all credible? And can your employees tell the difference? Almost 60 percent of those surveyed by the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer said they were uncertain about the truth of the information they saw in the media. In the context of health information, this uncertainty can create more than confusion — it can be dangerous to your employees’ health.
  3. Health care consumers need a compelling experience. And your employees are no different. In a world where sleek digital platforms are becoming the norm, health apps need to deliver consumer-grade experiences. McKinsey research found that 79 percent of customers ignore apps that don’t show that they understand them on a personal level.

These factors mean that health apps face a steep challenge when it comes to informing, engaging and — ultimately — bettering the health of your employees. Unfortunately, most apps aren’t quite making the grade.

Understand Digital Engagement

High-quality digital engagement entails a three step process: It takes data, translates it into insights and turns that into experiences. Let’s break that process down:

  • Data. With data as the foundation of engaging experiences, it’s easy to understand why digital technology has the potential to revolutionize health care. Data tells us what users do, where they’ve been and most importantly, what they want. The better the data, the better the insights that can be drawn from it.
  • Insights. Good apps take user data and distill patterns, develop user profiles and create takeaways. These takeaways have to be actionable if they’re to be the basis for compelling health care experiences.
  • Experiences. Examples of compelling health care experiences that can be developed out of data-driven insights include telemedicine, prescription refills, disease management, treatment recommendations and fitness plans, among many others.

Outside of individual mobile apps for employee engagement, you can take matters into your own hands. Try to make using a health app a community-building exercise for your staff — for instance, you can announce fun challenges such as offering a prize for whoever has the most steps tracked in their step-counter app at the end of a week or month. You can also work with your health care provider to “gamify” certain apps, so employees might get a discounted premium depending on certain health care challenges or wellness programs.

Having a solid sense of these two things will help you navigate the health app market and identify the options that will truly meet your employees’ needs and get them engaged in their health care.

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