A HealthMine survey of corporate wellness program participants found that 46 percent of respondents who were diagnosed with a previously unknown chronic disease discovered it as a result of their wellness program. Corporate wellness programs have been light on ROI metrics (many are at heart incentive programs). While the survey was conducted by a provider of these programs (HealthMine’s Automatic Health) and should be seen in that light, it also indirectly confirms the proactive value of health screenings. Employees want more as well. Participants in an earlier survey that they would like programs to offer vision (74 percent), genetic testing (75 percent), blood pressure (73 percent), cholesterol (69 percent), cancer (58 percent), and hearing (58 percent). The MedCityNews article also makes the excellent point that employers, through these wellness programs, are directly or indirectly accessing employee personal health information–a legally fraught area.
For those covered by corporate health policies, the day is not far away where employee health insurance programs will require wearing a fitness tracker and meeting certain metrics, such as walking a million steps or sleep quality. Already some programs have the employee log food, exercise, blood glucose, heart rate and other vital signs to qualify for a discount. The trajectory is much like BYOD–once unheard of, now it is expected to be the norm in 50 percent of US companies by 2017, with a concomitant loss of personal security and privacy. CVS Caremark and other companies have already made the stick, not the carrot, the norm of employee wellness programs [TTA 12 April 2013]. Writer Adrian Kingsley-Hughes asks: “How much access do we want our employers to have to our medical data? How much access to our daily activities do we want our employers and insurers having?” And what about spoofing those Fitbits and Jawbones? His ZDNet article notes the interest that Apple (plus Samsung and Google, despite Sergey’s and Larry’s vapors–Ed.) has in health, then takes it out a few more yards with Wearables and health insurance: A health bar over everyone’s head (and do check out the comments.)