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Wellness Programs Go High Tech

Wellness Programs Go High Tech

“With our WebMD portals and our data warehouse, we have two technologies that work together so that we can provide a healthcare program that targets the specific needs of our employees.” - Delia Vetter, EMC’s director of benefits

James Whitters, Monster Contributing Writer

June 23, 2009

When EMC, a Massachusetts data storage firm, decided to beef up its wellness program three years ago, it asked workers to bypass treadmills and stationary bikes and take a spin on an unexpected device: A computer.

A deal with Internet health-information portal WebMD and another with data warehouse provider Ingenix created a program that provided workers with the online resources to manage their own healthcare needs, while giving management the ability to drill through data and pinpoint the top healthcare problems impacting EMC employees.

“Being a high-tech company, we wanted to take a high-tech approach to wellness,” said Delia Vetter, EMC’s director of benefits. “With our WebMD portals and our data warehouse, we have two technologies that work together so that we can provide a healthcare program that targets the specific needs of our employees.”

Vetter says the company is now able to keep track of the top ten prescription drugs being used by its employees and the top ten health issues affecting its workforce. With that data, EMC can quickly develop wellness programs and workshops that meet the most pressing needs of its employees.

Experts say many of the companies that could benefit the most from these innovations are those with a high percentage of older workers, whose wellness needs and desires are often more complex than those of their younger colleagues.

“To have a successful wellness program, you have to think much broader than handing out gym memberships,” said Mary Swanson, who has helped implement a number of popular wellness programs for workers over the age of 50 as the founder and CEO of HealthCare Dimensions, Inc. and the executive vice chairman of AXIA Health Management.

“You need to provide a model that lets employees set their own goals,” she says. “If they can’t customize their own goals, it won’t work. One size does not fit all.”

John Harris, principal of Harris HealthTrends, an Ohio-based wellness consultant with 120 clients nationwide, says one of the most exciting new trends in wellness is telephonic healthcare counseling, a system that can provide workers with instant access to a wealth of information and their very own – albeit remote – wellness coach.