Data Privacy is Paramount for Effective Wellness Programs: A Look Back

Data privacy concerns have shown up in the news recently, particularly in the discussion of how various companies may be using  personal health information.

Working Wellness Hub followers know that we’ve reported frequently on a key fact: Not only is strictly managing personal data privacy central to any effective workplace wellness program, but also companies must be extraordinarily careful and responsible regarding any extrapolating they do with the data.

Given the new headlines, we thought it’d be helpful to review some of the topics we’ve covered:

9 Ways Corporate Wellness Programs Are Changing: Our post just last week noted one trend — “One of the biggest concerns for employees is that their health data isn’t secure, or employers will use it to diminish their rights in their place of work. This year, companies will look for more ways to create a secure system that ensures employees data is safe and neutral.”

To Increase Employee Engagement, Consider Privacy Concerns: While privacy concerns are in the news again, smart companies have been focused on them already. Last fall we noted that, “As employers continually seek ways to increase employee engagement in their workplace wellness programs, a new survey may help identify an area to address: Privacy.”

Wellness Programs and Employee Privacy: Transparency is key. More than two years ago, we noted: “From the beginning of any wellness campaign, an employer has to answer three important questions: 1) Why are employees being asked to share private health information?; 2) How is the information protected?; 3) What, if anything, will the employer do with the information once it is shared?”

Privacy Concerns Decrease Wellness Participation: Back in October, 2014, we noted: “‘Although employers and insurers increasingly turn to wellness programs to help lower healthcare costs, participation and engagement rates are still lacking. And according to a recent survey… privacy concerns and lack of time are the leading obstacles to employees participating in their companies’ wellness programs,’ Fierce Health Payer reports.”

Companies Need Better Communication About Wellness Programs: Effectively communicating how you maintain data privacy matters, too. We reported on a Brodeur Partners survey that showed “some employees resist programs that are in place for reasons including privacy concerns (50 percent).”

Wellness Plans Must Protect Employee Privacy: And with the increase of technology in wellness programs, we also brought readers a CIO Insight report that noted: “The critical issue—and something that will be a theme across all facets of business over the next decade—is that society, and CIOs, must find ways to use technology to benefit a business, employees, partners and customer—without stepping over any ethical lines. Technology should reward, not punish, individuals. Push too far or abuse private data and you’re likely to see some very healthy pushback.”

Exactly.