HEALTH TECH'S ROLE IN THE NEW OFFICE NORMAL: How digital health firms are helping US employers facilitate return-to-work programs amid the coronavirus pandemic

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The coronavirus pandemic has thrown the US economy into a state of flux, forcing businesses into uncharted territory as they decide when and how to reopen. Before the pandemic, 39% of US office employees worked remotely—which nearly doubled to 77% during the pandemic, per a June PwC survey.  Now, company leaders across the US are strategizing how to resume operations and restore normalcy by bringing their employees back into the office. In order to reopen brick-and-mortar offices, warehouses, and stores, it'll be of paramount importance for employers to navigate how to do so safely and instate routines that curb the spread of the coronavirus. Otherwise, employers risk creating sites of new outbreaks and being forced to shut their doors yet again.

The pandemic could hike up employer medical spending—creating an even greater sense of urgency for products that help ensure workers are in good health. The pandemic could increase self-insured employers' medical spending by as much as 10% in 2021, per PwC's estimates. For context, this estimate was calculated under the assumption the wave of coronavirus cases erupting in the spring of 2020 would lead patients to defer care to 2021. So, investing in programs that will maintain the health and safety of workplaces will be top-of-mind for businesses looking to preemptively rein in medical spending now, considering it could tick up over the course of the year. 

Tech companies and digital health startups are rolling out software to facilitate the return-to-work transition for employees. Return-to-work methods have made headlines, like Amazon's use of temperature checkpoints in its warehouses. But another segment of software developers—digital health firms—are designing platforms that focus on monitoring employees' symptoms and coronavirus status, and passing that information onto their employers.

In this report, Insider Intelligence outlines how tech giants and digital health companies are using their tech and clinical expertise to help US businesses with their reopening plans. We explore what the return-to-work health tech space looks like now—providing examples of the solutions on the market from both tech companies and fast-moving digital health companies, and unpacking the pros and cons of each. Finally, we shed light on some of the legal and privacy-related challenges that could hamper employers' implementation of tech-enabled return-to-work programs.  

The companies mentioned in this report are: Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Castlight Health, Collective Health, Color, Dole, emocha, Facebook, Fitbit, Google, Microsoft, One Medical, RxMx, Salesforce, Sonde Health, UnitedHealth Group, UrbanSitters, and Verily. 

Here are some key takeaways from this report: 

  • Employers are strategizing how to reinstate normalcy in their operations amid the coronavirus pandemic—and tech developers are rolling out retirn-to-work programs that prioritize ensuring the health of employees. 
  • Some of the largest tech companies are throwing their hats into the workforce reentry space, leaning on their data analytics prowess and existing relationships with healthcare entities in their pursuit of return-to-work tie-ups. 
  • Digital health companies are relying on their specific areas of expertise—employee benefits, telehealth, lab testing, voice—to craft return-to-work programs that attract businesses across industries.   
  • Privacy hangups surrounding employee surveillance are still inhibiting employers from investing in and implementing return-to-work tech, and the changing legal landscape may also make it difficult to to implement workforce reentry programs, especially those than lean heavily on contact tracing. 

 

In full, the report: 

  • Provides a snapshot of the tech-focused return-to-work market.
  • Outlines ways in which prominent tech companies and digital health startups are pivoting to roll out workforce reentry solutions. 
  • Highlights the pros and cons of implementing return-to-work solutions.
  • Identifies the legal and privacy-related barriers that exist—and will likely persist—to investing in tech-focused return-to-work solutions.

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