Wearables – an easy way to cut health costs?

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Free gifts always go down well with employees. Does it even need to be said? So what if those gifts could also cut your company’s healthcare costs? It’s a win-win situation that one healthcare expert says is easily achievable with wearable technology.

Senior consultant with Vital Benefits Inc., Kenneth MacDonald is well aware of Canada’s current health concerns. In the ten years between 1999 and 2009, diabetes diagnoses in Canadians increased by an alarming 70 per cent -we’ve never been unhealthier and it’s costing employers a fortune.

We’ve gotten so good at treating preventable diseases that many people now rely on pricy prescription medication to treat their ailments, especially when it’s employers who are picking up the bill – or most of it anyway.

Remarkably, and thankfully, the World Health Organization has revealed that 80 per cent of diabetes, heart attacks and strokes, as well as 50 per cent of cancers, could be avoided with lifestyle changes. So what can HR do to help?

According to MacDonald, outfitting your employees with wearable fitness tracking devices such as Fitbits, could be an easy way to improve overall health while simultaneously boosting morale. BP Canada has already distributed such devices and, according to MacDonald, has seen a noticeable improvement in employee health and fitness thanks to a contingent incentive scheme.

Incorporating wearable fitness devices into your company's wellness program seems like the ideal way to cut costs and 35 per cent of organizations surveyed said employee wellness programs were a “very effective strategy for controlling costs.” However, with prices still relatively high, some critics are saying there’s no reliable proof of ROI for HR.

Are wearables the way forward or are they just too expensive to warrant right now? Have your say. 
  • Sue on 2014-10-20 1:16:45 PM

    A most interesting time for sure. A most interesting gift from an employer to the employees. I can see the benefits this can bring to some industries where fitness is key to getting the job done. Of course in the wrong hands and industry, does this affect privacy of the employee? Does this become an accessory with the discount for the membership at the gym?

  • Justin B. on 2014-10-21 1:29:58 PM

    I think this is a worthwhile benefit. Those who exercise, sleep better, eat better and have more energy, and therefore productivity at work. Breaking this down to an ROI is difficult. A strategy like this can have longer-term effects such as creating a culture where fitness / health is common at work and supported. So over time the general health of the organization will rise higher than just the short-term gains of a FitBit program.

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