Cast your mind back to 1985 and the release of Back to the Future II, which took us forward to the strange world of 2015 and excited viewers with predictions of the technology that would be available. 

So here we are, it’s 2015 and while we may not have commercially-available hover cars, expanding pizza food hydrators or instant 30 year age reducing facelifts, in many ways we really are living in the future. 

Video phones, fingerprint recognition and smart glasses are all part of people’s daily lives, transforming how we interact with each other and our environment. We all expect to have the world at our fingertips and as consumers to access everything we want on demand.

So how does this affect us in the workplace as employers and employees? In an age where technology leads the revolution, we take a look at the top 5 tech trends that are taking health and wellbeing benefits back to the future.

1. Wearable technology integrating with providers

Wearable technology has been around for decades (we all remember those calculator watches right?) but only recently have providers taken a hands on approach to how useful the data they generate can be in the employee benefits Industry.

Insurers can use the personal data on a wearable activity tracking pieces of kit and get real information about a person’s state of health, diet and exercise.  Insurers use this data in aggregated form to map out health trends, consumer needs and importantly drive premium change.

2. “Nudge yourself” – integrated apps

Consolidation is the key here. With so many applications, software programmes and devices now available, the average consumer wants to ensure that all these tools are compatible with each other. 

We might not be quite there yet but the folks at Nudge Yourself have created an application that brings together all the information from your health tracking devices or apps to provide a consolidated view. This simplifies the picture of your current health and gives the user an idea of where they can improve day to day. If this approach is connected to a company health strategy it can improve the efficiency and take up of certain benefits. 

After all what good is all this data if you can’t integrate across multiple platforms and evolve with the times?

3. Health Hub – from wellness to illness

It’s vital you have benefits in place within your package that react to support your employees who are ill or in an accident. However, the future lies in taking a more holistic approach to an employee’s health circumstances. Looking after an employee’s wellness in addition to illness ensures a proactive approach that engages employees in their own health management and helps to reduce sickness absence. 

We have created our very own Health Hub which capitalises on the latest functionality in Darwin™ by pulling together all the health and wellness products, services and information that clients make available to their employees via APIs (interfaces between software programs).

By putting the information front and centre, employees experience ease of access and a seamless journey through their providers to deliver a more engaging, easily accessible solution rather than having to hunt for information in links hidden away within other content.

4. Flexible Spending account

Many countries, particularly in Asia Pacific, have been using Flexible Spending Accounts for some years to reimburse employees against a set range of expenses. This functionality is now also at the forefront of benefits development in other regions, such as the UK.

Flexible Spending Accounts can be put in place to provide reimbursement for employees against a set range of expenses. Our clients currently use these for Health and Wellness allowances, personal development and training and general company allowances.  

For example, after signing up for new gym membership or visiting the dentist, employees can take a picture of the receipt and submit their claim straight away on their mobile phone. Once approved, the reimbursement will appear on next month’s payroll. This automates a lot of the administration and gives employees a much more engaging and immediate experience. Plus they are less likely to lose their receipt before submitting it!

5. Wait a minute Doc…Online GP services?

Gone are the days where you have to wait a frustrating amount of time to get in front of your GP, take a day off and by the time you get to see them, forget why you needed the appointment. There is a wave of new providers offering instant GP services online via webcams and phone calls who can give you the medical advice you need at an instant. Prescriptions are no problem either – these can be sent in the post after your consultation.

Organisations are recognising that their employees want to be able to access these kinds of services in a variety of ways, without taking too much time out of their already busy schedules and are responding accordingly.

Do make sure you have somewhere secure and discreet if you are having an online appointment at work though!

It’s important to change with the times and build a package that suits your employees. This doesn’t need to be in the investment of a state of the art new invention but it’s always good to know what your staff wants. Our clients who surveyed their employees and made subtle changes to their package had a much greater impact on employee motivation, recruitment success and staff retention than those who haven’t. 

2015 will continue to revolutionise the technology marketplace and this will further impact health & wellness employee benefits. While you may not know what the next exciting development in technology will be, a flexible online benefits platform and a strong health & wellbeing strategy put you in a great place to begin incorporating them.