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Tech

Wellbeing and tech: Where it works and where it doesn’t

By Jack Campbell | |6 minute read

Tech can be great for streamlining processes and generally making employees’ lives easier. One area that can benefit from a tech presence is wellbeing.

Dr Patrick Aouad, co-founder and chief executive of CU Health, commented: “Tech is an unbelievable tool for promoting health and wellbeing and providing accessibility to health and wellbeing.”

Wellbeing tech can be a great way to access support fast and from anywhere. This connectivity has greatly improved access to the healthcare system, said Dr Aouad.

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“So traditionally, when people were receiving evidence-based healthcare … [it’s] been provided through one-on-one, face-to-face interactions. Now, one-on-one, face-to-face interactions take time, you might be travelling and also often to get a good outcome, you need a few different healthcare professionals,” he explained.

“An example might be that someone sees a doctor in relation to their mental health, and the doctor does a screen, does some blood tests, make sure there’s nothing else going on. You’re not anaemic, your thyroid’s okay, there are many reasons that your mood can be deflated, or you can have low mood.”

Dr Aouad continued: “The individual person then has the responsibility and the burden of seeing the GP and following up with all these different healthcare professionals at different times, potentially interrupting their normal day … The great thing about tech is tech can bring healthcare to anyone wherever they are.”

Not only is this digitisation beneficial to patients, but it has also created a better platform for professionals to collaborate.

“You can have that team-based approach almost instantly. The other thing that tech allows is it allows people to track their progress. It also allows content to be delivered, personalised content so people can watch webinars, receive content that they choose or that their healthcare professionals or wellbeing experts have curated or chosen for them,” Dr Aouad said.

“So, you end up on a journey with lots of experts contributing, and the individual that’s been cared for doesn’t need to leave their office. So that is going to lead to huge improvements in terms of treating problems and preventing problems. And one of the things we know the healthcare system’s not great at is prevention.”

While there are huge benefits that come with the digitisation of the healthcare system, there are also some downsides that should be considered.

Dr Aouad commented: “There’s a lot of things that AI can do to automate the recognition of risks and also automate the understanding of what management plans may or be relevant for a person. But that’s no substitute for a human-based empathetic interaction that leads to good outcomes, particularly through building trust over time.”

“You need that continuity of care in order to achieve outcomes, and that’s where human beings will, I think, always be part of that optimal healthcare journey.”

Dr Aouad noted that the rise in automation might create worries for workers, but this problem is inevitable.

“Are people’s wellbeing at risk because of the threat of technology in their roles? Absolutely, there’s reason for anxiety and questioning around this. We haven’t seen yet the outcome of that; I think we’re still in that conversation. Time will tell, both in the healthcare service and in all other industries,” he said.

With this in mind, Dr Aouad still believes that the best businesses know how to utilise tech in their wellbeing policies.

“The wellbeing tools that are being used are now tech-enabled in some way. You have to move with that, whether you’re tracking your wellbeing a certain way or you’re providing services through a digital health tool. I just don’t think that you can provide services in an adequate way, in a timely way, without using technology anymore,” he concluded.

The transcript of this podcast episode, when quoted above, was slightly edited for publishing purposes. The full audio conversation with Patrick Aouad on 9 May is below, and the original podcast article can be found here.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.