Wellness programs still have a long way to go to meet goals.
DALLAS --- Wellness plans that are tied to a sponsored health care plan offer a variety of advantages for consumers, but a recent survey shows that the efforts to coordinate these plans and utilize them more effectively "are still at their beginning stages."
According to the survey's findings, slightly more than one-third of employees (36%) whose employers include a wellness program in their benefits package participate in some aspect of the plan at least once a week. In addition, the survey found that less than half (44%) stay engaged in their wellness plan the entire year
HealthMine, a firm that monitors personal clinical engagement in the health care market, sponsored the survey. The findings are based on responses from 806 American consumers with sponsored wellness plans in the 26-64 age bracket.
Assessing the future potential of wellness plans, HealthMine noted that the survey's results show that "wellness plans can improve consumer engagement, improve integration of lifestyle and disease management programs, and improve effectiveness in helping consumers manage health care costs."
According to HealthMine, the overall view of wellness plans by respondents is that the plans help them manage their health, but they expressed uncertainty about whether the plans "helped to lower or improve health care costs."
Among the key findings, just 35% of respondents said they were in a wellness plan that included both lifestyle management and disease management tools. The respondents with wellness plans indicated that they like their wellness plans, yet just 36% reported that they engaged in the plan on a weekly basis throughout the entire year.
Sustainable engagement of consumers is key to improving group health and better managing health costs, HealthMine noted.
"In health care delivery today, more than ever, employers and payers must engage their members with health information that is personally relevant, clinically focused and automatically available anytime, anywhere," said HealthMine chief executive officer Bryce Williams. "Key is that it is personal information that it is tied to a person's clinical data, including biometrics. Clinical data tied to lifestyle management gives consumers real measurements to see if they are making progress."
Williams added, "That is what sustains engagement and engages employees weekly."
The survey's responses found that 70% of the 806 respondents believed that their wellness plan helped them manage their health, but less than half of these people (38%) said they were able to better manage their health care costs by utilizing the wellness plan. In addition, 71% of respondents said that they were in the program to care for their health as a primary incentive.
HealthMine reported that many available wellness plans include some type of monitoring device, such as a fitbit, but less than half (45%) of the plans automatically update data from these tracking devices. This is surprising, given that the survey found that 70% of respondents said that their wellness plans were based on completing exercise-related activities.
Survey Sampling International fielded the survey between December 29 and December 31.