Health Reform WK-EDGE Digital health solutions are here to stay, expert says
Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Digital health solutions are here to stay, expert says

By Lauren Bikoff, MLS

Mercer’s Health on Demand survey explored employers’ use of digital health solutions.

Approximately 68 percent of employers said that they are likely to invest more in digital health over the next five years, according to research from Mercer. At a recent Mercer webinar, Health Benefits in 2020 and Beyond, Kate Brown, leader at Mercer’s Center for Health Innovation, said, "There is a digital transformation going on within our society, within our businesses, and within our HR functions. Digital health solutions are here to stay in the benefits space, and employers need to earmark dollars for this strategy as we look forward."

During the webinar, Brown examined results from Mercer’s new Health on Demand survey. The survey contains responses from over 16,000 employees in 13 countries, including more than 2,000 employees in the U.S. Mercer also surveyed 100 employers in the 13 countries to compare how employers and employees view digital health solutions differently. The survey confirmed that employees are interested in digital health solutions, especially solutions that are personalized for their specific needs, and that offering digital health solutions can help attract and retain workers.

"A quarter of employees said they are more likely to stay with their employer if that employer is offering digital health solutions," said Brown. "So, if you’re an employer who is looking at this tight labor market and thinking about your attraction and retention policies, digital health may be another way to protect yourself against losing some of your top talent."

Disconnect. Brown found one of the more interesting things revealed by the survey is that there is a disconnect between the digital health solutions that employees want and the digital health solutions employers think their employees want. For instance, the digital health solutions most desired by U.S. employees are: applications to help find the right doctor (39 percent); electronic portable medical records (38 percent); telemedicine for simple health issues (36 percent); and wearables to manage chronic conditions (36 percent). However, 58 percent of employers think employees want electronic portable medical records, followed by telemedicine for serious health conditions (52 percent); and wearables to monitor well-being (49 percent).

"If you are employer that is making assumptions about what it is your population really wants from a digital health perspective, it may be worthwhile to consider an employee survey to either validate those assumptions you are making before you make an investment in a digital health solution that your employees might not want," she emphasized. "If you really know your population and you nail it, that’s great validation, but on the other hand, if you find you made some assumptions that weren’t quite right, at least you will be able to take corrective action and adjust your strategy before you make a huge investment."

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