What convenient, cost-effective and proactive way to improve our wellbeing fits into the palm of our hand?
The answer? Mobile and wearable devices.
These mHealth technologies (the “m” is for mobile) are making it more accessible and affordable to self-manage our health. Think of how we use our fitness trackers to monitor everything, from the number of calories we consume and the steps we take each day, to the hours of sleep we get at night.
As of 2021, there were over 350,000 digital health apps available to consumers (90,000 released last year alone), with nearly half focused on managing specific health conditions like chronic diseases or mental health.
Supported by research
Not only is the development of health apps and wearable devices gaining momentum, but a growing body of evidence shows their usage leads to positive behaviour changes and concrete health care outcomes. Short- and long-term metrics show positive effects ranging from reducing blood glucose levels to reducing hospital visits.
Now think about how employers can encourage the use of mHealth technologies to empower their employees to make choices that positively affect their health ― and the health of their organization. It’s happening now.
Added new digital tools
At Medavie Blue Cross, we have added several technology-enabled tools to our health care toolbox that employees can access, through their employer-paid plans. These tools can help them monitor their health conditions, track their medications, connect with therapists for counselling and more. Our new Text Therapy service, Diabetes Care Program and Mindfulness app are just a few examples of this. They are among the new mental wellness options available through our digital health platform Connected Care.
As technology advances and consumers become more health conscious, these digital solutions increasingly become an essential component of the health care ecosystem. A recent study of working Canadians found that over half of respondents (55%) “highly or extremely value” apps to help them access their health care.
In addition to the health benefits of mHealth technologies, they also reduce our reliance on traditional in-person care, saving billions of dollars yearly in health care costs. A 2015 study by The IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science concluded that if health apps were used across all diseases, the United States health care system alone could potentially save $46 billion in annual costs.
mHealth includes mobile computing, medical sensors, and communication technologies used for health care services (e.g., managing chronic diseases). mHealth applications can operate on smartphones, tablets, sensors, and cloud-based computing systems, all of which collect health data to inform health care decisions.
mHealth has led to a phenomenon known as the “quantified self”, which describe a growing movement of consumers who are using digital tools to track their behavioral, physiological, biological, and other health markers.
Research has shown that consumers who have embraced mHealth technologies were more engaged and consistent in reducing risk behaviours and making smart choices when it comes to their lifestyle, be it exercising more, consuming healthier foods, or sleeping longer on a daily basis.
To support their adoption, we have formed partnerships with leading experts in the field to add a comprehensive suite of mHealth apps to our benefit offerings.
Expanding our offerings
This includes Online Doctors, a doctor-on-demand telemedicine app, that allows members to skip the waiting line and connect with a licensed physician for diagnosis and treatment – anytime, anywhere.
We recently became the first carrier in Canada to provide coverage for Text Therapy, enabling members to get professional support for issues like anxiety, depression, stress, substance abuse and more — in a way that meets their needs and matches their lifestyle.
Our Medavie Blue Cross Mobile app is the highest-rated app of its kind in the health insurance industry, offering a fast, easy and secure way for members to manage their health benefits (and their medications) whenever and wherever they want.