Online Health Management for Employees

Online Health ManagementEmployee health programs deliver results that go straight to the bottom line. That is the message from some enlightened corporates in the US who have taken a positive approach to employee health and set up personal health websites for every worker.

According to Bloomberg’s Businessweek, computer giant Intel is one of four companies trialing the use of online personal health records to help employees monitor their own health.

A consortium of companies including Intel, Wal-Mart and Pitney Bowes are involved in the project that hosts the records of employees so they have a good way of getting their entire medical [history] in one place.

According to the report about 7 percent of Americans have now used personal health records, nearly double the percentage a year ago. In theory, by giving employees an online tool to monitor their health, companies can cut health-care costs without raising concerns about data privacy. Plus doctors have better information with which to recommend treatments.

Personal-health-record software from companies like Dossia, as well as from Google’s (GOOG) Health system and Microsoft’s (MSFT) HealthVault, takes the place of pen-and-clipboard medical histories that patients fill out before doctor visits.

The information is different from that kept in electronic medical records, which can be difficult for patients to transfer among heath care providers. In addition to patients’ medical histories, personal health records also contain information about drug prescriptions and lab results.

The systems typically work by collecting health information from doctors’ offices, health plans, pharmacies, and labs — plus data that employees enter themselves — into a secure Website. The information is private to employees; employers can’t see it. And when employees leave a company, they take their personal health records with them.

Personal health records aren’t a cure-all: Employees must do the hard work of living healthfully. Yet the software can encourage positive changes.

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About the Author

Joanne Wallace is our resident "Safety Guru". Joanne has provided advice on safety management for the past 10 years and written hundreds of articles on safety issues and tips. Joanne has experience in many industries ranging from manufacturing, food processing, timber milling, retail, office and wholesaling providing her with knowledge and experience managing risk and injuries in these industries.

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  1. Les Henley says:

    It doesn’t surprise me that online health management returns results ‘straight to the bottom line’. This approach in the USA is less about risk management in the workplace (OHS) and more to do with Health Insurance Risk Management.
    Refer my comments in response to the article at ‘Corporate Yoga and Safety Issues’ – there is a fairly radical separation between ‘health costs’ in USA firms and improvements in OHS management processes.
    To date I am not ware of any studies showing any identifiable correlation between this financial outcome resulting from reducing medical and related health costs (covered by Medicare & Private health insurance in Australia) and a reduction in workplace related health or safety performance and a reduction in workers compensation.
    I tyhink that, as OHS professionals, we need to be careful that we don’t inadvertantly portray one issue (personal health) as a means to improve another (OHS).

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