A recent article in Forbes pinpointed ten reasons a wellness program may not be meeting goals, both in terms of health outcomes and cost savings targets.

1. You use scare tactics.
2. You incentivize poorly.
3. You don’t offer biometric screenings.
4. You only offer biometric screenings.
5. You don’t consult experts.
6. You communicate poorly, if at all.
7. You chose the wrong provider.
8. You skip the employee feedback.
9. You force participation.
10. You’re stressing out.

No wellness program is perfect, but engaging and sustaining all members in personalized health and disease management activities is the goal, and this list helps identify common gaps. The truth is, wellness is not well. Despite $8 billion invested annually by U.S. health plan sponsors in wellness programs that promise health improvements for participants, results have been disappointing. Participation rates in wellness programs are low and plan sponsors struggle to engage members. HealthMine consumer research found that 70% of plan members who are enrolled in wellness programs don’t feel the programs meet their needs.

The biggest hurdle for wellness programs today is that most are stuck in an analog era. America is a mobile, always-on, data-at-your-fingertips society. So why are today’s wellness programs stuck in the past, using outdated approaches to data collection and analysis, reporting, and delivery technology in attempts to engage plan members in their health?

If members are to be motivated to take responsibility for their health, to take action when it matters most, they must know the current status of their health, and especially changes in the status of their health, right now—not six weeks from now.

A wellness program will sustainably engage its population when it can provide every member with answers to three key questions anytime and anywhere in near-real time:

1.    What is my current health status?
2.    What can I do to improve my health right now?
3.    What’s in it for me?

The ability to digitally pull in and analyze clinical and behavioral health data from many sources is essential. A wellness program that does this can be an early warning system for health risks and chronic conditions.

As is evident from the Forbes list, there are many “don’ts” when it comes to wellness program design, but this is one clear “do”: deliver recommendations, incentives and updates to members’ smartphones in near-real time, when it matters most.

For the complete article in Forbes, click here.

[Photo Credit: KatieThebeau on Flickr via Creative Commons 2.0]