Now that the boundaries between work and wellness are blurring, it's no surprise that tech-based programs are on the rise in workplaces. Back in 2016, 2 million employees worldwide received a wearable device as part of an office wellness program. As of 2018, that number was up to 6 million –– an increase of 4 million in two years, according to CBS News.
Yes, the perks can be real for employees. Not only do they get a free device, which could cost upwards of $100, but workers earn real money, too. For example, some employees taking part in UnitedHealthcare Motion received $1,000 to put toward co-pays and other medical costs if they reached certain step goals.
Employers see these programs as a financial win. Companies may save on premiums, and healthier employees might be more productive and miss fewer days of work. Plus, companies can come across as forward-thinking by offering such wellness perks.
The concern, though, is a big one. How much personal data do employees fork over when wearing the devices –– and can it be used against them, potentially keeping them from a promotion or new job down the line? Also, many workers might assume their data is protected under a U.S. law that provides privacy and security provisions for safeguarding medical information, but because employees voluntarily opt into these programs, that may not be the case.
Employees will have to start asking smart questions before they sign up, considering that these types of programs will likely only gain momentum in the years to come.
In other health technology news, Healthy.io received FDA clearance for its at-home urinalysis test for kidney disease, which utilizes a customer's smartphone camera and the startup's app to help make the diagnosis. The tech will likely help make it easier for people to get diagnosed –– but as with the workplace wellness programs, it's too early to tell what consequences may lie ahead.
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