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How COVID-19 is Driving Digital Health through Partnerships—and Why that Matters

How COVID-19 is Driving Digital Health through Partnerships—and Why that Matters

As COVID-19 passes the 6-month mark in the U.S., one aspect of this pandemic is clear: Digital health and SaaS have become increasingly vital, and will continue to be prominent in the months and years to come.

Employers are transitioning toward using these tools in a meaningful way, making health and wellness options such as tobacco cessation more accessible than ever.

To better meet these employer needs, wellbeing vendors, EAP providers, and other benefits organizations will need to expand their offerings to make their solutions more compelling and well-rounded. They are also responding to the employee’s desire for a “one stop shop” for benefits, which provides the ultimate employee experience.

Current Landscape

The numbers can sound overwhelming: Nearly 1 in 4 workers are considered at high risk of serious illness if they get infected by the novel coronavirus. A recent analysis estimates that at 37.7 million employees, including 10 million age 65 and older. The Centers for Disease Control has listed underlying conditions that put people at higher risk, and the most prominent ones are also some of the most common, like cardiovascular disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

Although estimates like that can sound bleak, the way companies and benefits organizations are learning to pivot provides some hope for better outcomes. In response to higher risk, they are moving rapidly toward enhancing their wellbeing programs, selecting partners that can integrate robust resources into their solutions.

Global advisory firm Willis Towers Watson surveyed companies, for example, and found that nearly half (47%) were enhancing healthcare benefits and 45% were broadening wellbeing programs in response to COVID-19.

Value of Holistic Solutions

Companies may be reporting they’re “enhancing” and “broadening,” but what does that mean? For many, it means taking a closer, more comprehensive approach toward what their employees truly need, not just for lowering risk of COVID-19 severity, but also to support greater health and wellness overall.

According to a MetLife survey, even before COVID, 68% of employees surveyed believed their workplace has a responsibility for their health and wellbeing. As virtual care and digital health platforms become more available, they’re embracing that option.

In fact, people are so enthusiastic about virtual care that most expressed a desire for using these platforms even after the pandemic ends.

That’s where holistic solutions come into play. Resources that offer virtual access, yet are tailored for individuals and their needs, are standing out in a highly competitive market. With these options, HR leaders can offer a greater breadth of support without feeling overwhelmed, employees can get the resources they need, and EAP providers and wellbeing vendors can expand their solutions.

The Role of Tobacco Cessation

With preventive care now an urgent issue, encouraging behavior changes like tobacco cessation can bring a range of advantages, from improving employee health to increasing productivity. And this issue is particularly important to catch now, since a recent Goldman Sachs report shows tobacco consumption appears to be increasing in recent months. The report speculates this is due to added stress from COVID-19 and the ability to smoke at will at home, with social distancing dampening public pressure not to smoke.

Fortunately, tobacco cessation can delivered in a way that is consistent with what employers and their workers want.

As a public health nonprofit, Truth Initiative has a mission to inspire tobacco-free lives. In addition to working directly with large employers, we are creating meaningful partnerships that rely on our high-tech, high-touch solutions such as the EX Program to provide digital health programs that employees have come to embrace.

Our partners look to us as their best-in-class tobacco and vape cessation solution, understanding that it takes all types of expertise to create a holistic offering.

For example, recently the EX Program partnered with Virgin Pulse, the leading digital health and wellness company, to bring the program to more than 12 million users. Through this partnership, Virgin Pulse clients can give members access to a personalized quit plan, live chat coaching from tobacco treatment specialists, free quit medication, 24/7 peer support from a thriving social community, and tailored text messaging.

This type of partnership, along with our others, allows us to maximize our reach and get our tools into the hands of more tobacco users than we could ever reach on our own.

As COVID-19 continues, and even beyond, the shift toward these types of digital health resources will change lives. If you are a wellbeing vendor, EAP, or other benefits organization looking to expand your offerings and make your solutions more robust, connect with us. Visit our partner page to learn more, and start a conversation today.


Jennifer Gendron
Jennifer Gendron

Head of Development, Innovations

Jennifer Gendron brings nearly 20 years of experience in sales, marketing, client success, and non-profit leadership with both a business and clinical background. Gendron oversees sales, marketing, client success, and partnerships for the EX Program. Her experience provides leadership and a deep understanding of B2B go-to-market strategy, new business creation, and channel strategy within the health and wellness industry. Most recently, Gendron was chief revenue officer at MeYou Health, a SaaS wellbeing platform, where she directed sales, client success, and marketing, leading their go-to-market strategy. Prior to MeYou Health, she served in leadership roles at Virgin Pulse, a corporate wellness provider, and E4 Health, a healthcare management solution. Gendron earned her Master of Business Administration from Northeastern University and is a graduate from the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

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