Although mobile wellness programs are just beginning to gain traction, corporate wellness programs are commonplace at many employers, large and small. According to research by Dr. Bill Hettler these programs began to take shape in the late 1960s and by the 1980’s most large corporations had implemented some sort of wellness system. Throughout the next three decades these wellness programs advanced in sophistication as participant data was analyzed and the wellness community began to better understand participants motivations. Although there is now detailed ROI statistics on corporate wellness, the impact of mobile wellness has not been as thoroughly analyzed.
Since there isn’t sufficient data directly showing the impact of mobile wellness programs on populations, we can extrapolate some inferences based on trends in corporate wellness programs, and mobile devices.
A recent study by Principal Financial found that 45% of employees think an employer sponsored wellness program helps them stay healthy. Additionally, 43% of respondents indicated that these wellness programs helped them miss fewer days of work, which increases employer productivity. Another study by the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans found that 70% of employers currently offer some type of wellness program, and 90% of those employers offer some sort of benefits program to increase participation.
These two surveys show a disconnect between the employers who offer wellness programs, and the number of employees who utilize and think the programs help them stay healthier. Could a mobile wellness programs be the answer?
Mobile wellness programs utilize mobile applications on smart phone that allow participants interact with via mobile health coaching, logging nutrition tracking fitness, and looking up health information in real time.
The proliferation of smart phones into the marketplace has been rapid. Today more there are more than 325 million mobile phone subscribers in the US and over 50% of those individuals have smart phones. From 2011 to 2012 alone, smart phone usage grew at an astounding 81%. But will those 162 million smart phone subscribers start using mobile wellness applications?
A recent survey by Pew Research found 31% of smart phone users looked up health information on their smart phone, up from 17% two years earlier. Another study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project revealed that 19 percent of smart phones have at least one mobile health application downloaded. While these numbers don’t necessarily mean that consumers are rushing to adopt mobile wellness, it does indicate that consumers’ mobile devices are being accepted as a form of health communication.
More smart phones, increases in wellness adoption, and better mobile wellness applications will help drive consumer adoption. As more data becomes available, we’ll see studies providing more detailed analysis about the success of mobile wellness solutions.