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Monitoring Employees' Health at Work and at Home

Posted Dec 17 2009 7:54am
One of the many strengths of employee wellness programs is that they reach people at work, where we spend most of our time. It's the perfect environment for promoting health and wellness on a long-term basis.
Over at the Harvard Business Review blog, Patrick J. Skerrett writes about employers who are taking wellness to the next level by offering remote health monitoring. Essentially, that means giving employees with chronic conditions (such as diabetes or high blood pressure) the tools they need to keep an eye on their numbers, no matter where they are.

Skerrett describes a successful pilot program at a data storage firm called EMC that allowed employees with hypertension to measure their blood pressure several times a week--either at work or at home. Measurements were automatically transmitted to a personal website that interpreted the results. (The company never saw individuals' data--only aggregate reports.)

The results were impressive:
Over the course of the six-month pilot program, the average blood pressure in the volunteers fell significantly. They also had twice as many medication changes compared with a control group at EMC who had a one-time blood pressure measurement, suggesting that the feedback was prompting the volunteers to talk with their doctors.
One in five EMC workers have high blood pressure, for which the company pays more than $3 million a year in health claims, says Delia Vetter, EMC's director of benefits, employee services and programs. With the help of remote health monitoring, the development of personal health records, and other innovations, EMC estimates it will save $111 million over six years.
It's hard to argue with savings like that, but I'll ask our readers the same question Mr. Skerrett asks his: Would you participate in a program like this if your company offered it? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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