The recent health care reform legislation puts a new emphasis on health and wellness programs that are intended to improve our well-being. Plug “well-being” into a Google search and you will see the top 10 results are about as varied as could be: from ancient philosophical definitions and Wikipedia posts to medical student organizations.
It is estimated that 60 to 80% of Americans have used the Internet to find health information, rivaling physicians as the most common source of information. The term Web 2.0 has been created to signify the idea of an interactive web, one that invites users to share experiences, to lead discussions and change, and to adapt the Internet to make it a public forum, rather than a static informational grid. The potential for technology to continue to influence health decisions is impressive; more specifically, its potential in transforming well-being could be enormous.
One area in which technology is nascent is in wellness programs. Employers are just starting to realize the connection for instance of providing employees with a dedicated support structure for quitting smoking or losing weight. In what might seem to be an obvious connection, the happiness of employees directly relates to their perception of work and health, among other factors. By providing them with the network to improve those facets of their lives via integrated seamless programs, employers can close this gap and create sustainability to these endeavors.
The connection between communication, technology, and patient care is increasingly becoming more established. These facts present an amazing opportunity for companies adept enough to take advantage of them. Through the use of new technology (smart phones) health information can be made available to employees at an unprecedented level, taking the emphasis on wellness to an entirely new level and reinvigorating an already thriving area.
Henry Engleka is a principal of Widmeyer Communications and MD of the agency's New York office.