Books, articles and commentaries abound on the value of empowering people to take a more active role in managing their own health.
As noted by the Empowered Patient Coalition, an organization devoted to helping the public improve healthcare quality and safety: “The first crucial steps in both patient empowerment and patient safety efforts are information and education. The public is increasingly aware that they must assume a greater role in healthcare issues but they need tools, strategies and support to assist them in becoming informed and engaged medical consumers…”
In the workplace, many employers find that specialized information management systems, self-service portals and mobile apps are valuable engagement tools that help integrate personal health with occupational health and safety initiatives.
Employee self-service portals are secure and accessible from any location with an Internet connection. Imagine how much easier it is for employers and employees to avoid time-consuming manual processing, ensure compliance and prevent the spread of disease using an automated system and/or mobile apps for physical exam appointments, forms, medical and vaccination record access, and wellness activities?
Taking advantage of the growing legions of tech-savvy employees, employers are offering the workforce tools in support of three e’s:
- engagement in benefit plan decisions and wellness programs
- encouragement to assume responsibility for scheduling their own appointments for required medical surveillance exams and keeping track of other clinical activities
- ensuring immunizations are complete and up to date
In addition, self-service portals and mobile apps reduce paper waste, an important step toward having a “green” work environment.
With these time-saving tools in place, employers have the opportunity to redeploy staff to revenue-generating and expense-reduction initiatives such as responding to near-misses and incidents, and introducing innovative programs to help employees avoid or better control chronic conditions that result in costly work absence.
Employee autonomy is included as a factor in scientifically valid questionnaires about quality of work life, job satisfaction and stress for good reasons. (Visit the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s Stress at Work website for an overview). Studies show that individuals who feel their employees trust them to make the right decisions are happier and healthier than those who are employed in more autocratic workplaces.
In addition, a “transformational leadership style” that conveys a sense of trust and meaningfulness and individually challenges and develops employees can lead to greater employee well-being. Giving employees access to health management-related information systems so they can be better consumers is one way employers can give be transformational leaders who inspire their employees while their companies simultaneously reap associated business benefits.