Survey: 50 percent of employers use mobile apps to engage employees in their health

By Aditi Pai
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Some 50 percent of employers use mobile apps to engage their employees in their health, according to a survey of 213 employers, sponsored by Xerox Human Resource Services and the National Business Group on Health (NBGH).

NBGH added that there was significant growth in this category compared to its 2013 survey where only about 16 percent of employers said they were using mobile to engage users.

The survey was conducted by Buck Consultants at Xerox HR Services in the fall of 2015. Some 72 percent of the employers surveyed had at least 5,000 employees.

Following mobile apps, 34 percent of employers used wearable sensors to engage employees, 33 percent used social media as well as social networking, and 31 percent used some kind of gamification.

“Changes in benefit program design increasingly require individuals to take personal responsibility for their wellbeing,” NBGH Vice President Karen Marlo said in a statement. “New technology, such as wearables, provides employers with an opportunity to motivate and empower employees to take an active role in their own health care experience. The key for employers is identifying programs that provide both individualized support and measurable results for employee wellbeing, working to positively impact health and wealth.”

Employers said they are using these metrics to measure outcomes as well. About 28 percent of employers said they are using wearables to measure outcomes, while 23 percent said they are using gamification, 16 percent said they are using mobile apps, and 9 percent said they are using social media.

Employers were also surveyed on which technologies they were considering adding in next two to three years. The most popular technologies that employers said they may add were texting and wearable sensors for health monitoring — each were under consideration by about 40 percent of those employers surveyed. 

Also high on the list, 38 percent of employers said they might add games, like quizzes and puzzles, followed by 32 percent of employers that might add podcasts. Other technologies that less than 30 percent of employers said they were considering include interactive health benefits apps, internal social networks, and wearable sensors for activity tracking.