Mobile and Online Technology: Bridging the Gap to Lasting Behaviour Change

Optimized-RobGrantIt is no secret that the current trend of rising health care costs for businesses is unsustainable. The increasing prevalence of employees with chronic lifestyle diseases, such as obesity, high cholesterol, or diabetes, is resulting in more absenteeism, less productivity and an overall increase in health care costs.

All these factors contribute to the growing need for business leaders to get proactive and bring down these costs by helping their employees to get healthier.

This is where workplace wellness programs can be of value.

Chronic lifestyle diseases are, in large part, caused by unhealthy behaviours: bad eating habits, sedentary lifestyle, etc. Thus, if wellness programs can change these unhealthy behaviours, then the costs associated with them can be prevented.

However, creating the kind of behaviour-change necessary to improve employee health-habits is a notoriously difficult thing to achieve. Merely disseminating information about what one should eat or how often one should exercise does not seem to work in the long term. People know this information, but often fail to act on it.

This is because the unhealthy habits that wellness programs are trying to change are deeply ingrained in our way of life. It is extremely easy and convenient to take the unhealthy option: unhealthy foods are always within reach, and are cheap.  We drive more often than walk, and take the elevator rather than the stairs.

Mobile and online technology, as part of a comprehensive wellness program, offer a way to respond to these factors and create the kind of lasting behaviour change necessary to bring down health care costs and increase productivity. Use of these types of technology can make it just as easy and convenient to take the healthy option and eventually change habits.

It does this by creating a simple and fun way for employees to get engaged with their wellness program. Employees can check-in to their daily health tasks, and earn points for their healthy achievements. By collaborating and competing with friends through the mobile and online platform, support and motivation is provided to help encourage the adoption of a healthier lifestyle.

Ultimately, mobile and online technology, by making the process of getting healthy simple, social and fun, help employees stay engaged with the wellness program long enough to create the kind of changes to health-habits that are needed to bring down costs.

This post is based on a white paper written by Dr. Robert Grant of GetHealth, a mobile and online platform that helps people improve their health through social interaction and gaming. Dr. Grant is lead researcher and product evangelist for the GetHealth team. He just completed his PhD at Trinity College Dublin in Philosophy and Linguistics. The white paper can be accessed here for free.

GetHealth launched its public funding raise this week for accredited investors. Fore more information about how to join the team, visit www.investors.gethealthapp.com or contact their CEO, Liam Ryan at liam@gethealthapp.com. 

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