Jackie Buttery: How gadgets could transform workplace health

You don’t need to be a healthcare aficionado to recognise the change that is happening in the health arena.

Jackie Buttery

Two years ago, buying a Fitbit, Jawbone or similar device was confined to the internet. Today, walk into any electrical retailer and these gadgets are on prominent display.

The iPhone 6 now plots your stair walking, the Pebble sits inside your shoe and the Apple Watch will bring health and wellbeing to the masses.

Fewer people smoke, but many of us are touched by cancer or chronic ill-health. The importance of good health is rising in our consciousness as time goes by.

This technology and a changing landscape open up exciting possibilities for better workplace health. 

Up to this point, the already health-conscious have been raving about these health gadgets . But if employers are to maximise attendance and productivity and the wider population is to get healthy, the real need is to reach those who are not proactively managing their health and who are at most risk long-term.    

Health apps will deliver health advice

Health apps and the Apple Watch will deliver health advice to thousands of people not yet touched by the health gadget revolution. Personal health headlines on these devices, combined with parallel engaging employer messaging, should have the potential to transform workplace health.

I am no fitness fanatic. The ’be healthy’ mantra can be a bit much at times for most of us who are trying to juggle work, family and busy lives. But over the last year, I have walked an amazing four million steps. That sounds like a lot, but in reality it has just been achieved by wearing a Jawbone and using it to ‘nudge’ me to watch my activity levels each day. 

As mobile health apps become omnipresent, that potential to be steered towards getting more active can surely only grow.

Jackie Buttery is a reward and employee benefits consultant