News Article

World – Employees want digital health support at work, but worry over personal health data

Posted 16th June 2020 • Written by •

Most employees across the world think businesses should provide more physical and mental health support through technology, with apps, wearables and online services high on the list of demands, according to new research published today by health insurance provider Aetna International.

However, there is also clear concern around the use of personal health data by employers on an individual basis, according to the global survey involving over 4,000 employees in the US, UK, UAE and Singapore.

The study, designed to assess the impact of technology on health at work, found that 71% of global workers believe their employer can help them manage physical health better through technology, while 61% say the same of their mental health.

Over two thirds support the provision of a smart watch or fitness tracker to benefit mental and physical health and three quarters use or would use an app to help manage mental health. Additionally, 69% believe access to physical health services (provided by their employer) through their phone would help them manage physical health better, with that figure rising to 75% for mental health services.

However, the findings also highlight employee concerns around personal health data being used by employers or shared with third parties. Over six in ten employees, or 64%, globally worry it could one day be used as a criteria for promotion and a similar number that it might be a means of establishing salary grade. Most employees surveyed had concerns about their employer sharing their personal health data with government agencies or institutions (57%).

Circumstances where employees indicated they would willingly share their health data include helping to improve health and wellness benefits offered across the business (80%) and helping their business to offer more personalised health benefits (74%).

Over two thirds also said they would share personal health data if it helped to improve company culture (69%), while 75% would do so to help improve workplace policies.

“Interestingly, our research shows that when data is used responsibly, many people are open to sharing anonymised health data. This suggests employees understand the powerful role technology can play in enabling and informing a business’s strategies. If handled correctly, it presents an incredible opportunity for employers to foster trust, and for all parties to help shape the corporate culture and approach to workforce health and well-being,” said Richard di Benedetto, President at Aetna International.

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