Tech empowers people to take more control of their wellbeing

Any individual’s experience of looking after their own wellbeing could typically involve factors such as good eating, exercise and treatments from medical specialists when needed. But a wealth of new technologies are now being made available to empower people in addressing their own health issues more consistently and help companies support employees in this area.

“Technology is putting control of a medical condition or a wellness desire in the hands of the consumer, and enabling them to be much more proactive in terms of health management and getting a better quality of life,” explains Richard Cooper, head of digital and ecommerce at private healthcare firm AXA PPP healthcare.

Innovations already having a notable impact include a shoe attachment with a laser pointer that provides visual cues to people with an unsteady gait, enabling them to walk much more quickly and easily. This remarkable innovation, called Path Finder, has proven to be enormously helpful to people suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

For AXA PPP healthcare, the goal in engaging with and encouraging the creation of new health and wellbeing technologies is to play a more all-round role in supporting its customers to stay healthy

The creator of Path Finder is among the winners of AXA PPP healthcare’s Health Tech & You Awards, which support innovation among health technology pioneers. As with many other entrants to that competition, the inspiration for Path Finder came from a source close to home with the creator’s father suffering from Parkinson’s.

Lise Pape, chief executive of the company behind Path Finder, Walk With Path, used her design and engineering background to create a solution that helps people walk much more confidently and experience a significantly enhanced quality of life.

For AXA PPP healthcare, the goal in engaging with and encouraging the creation of new health and wellbeing technologies is to play a more all-round role in supporting its customers to stay healthy. With the Health Tech & You Awards, the company discovers useful innovations in the health technology field, and also provides vital promotion and support for innovators.

AXA PPP healthcare focuses on supporting innovators’ smart ideas. “By taking this approach we’re engaging with creators and pioneers, who are single minded in their focus on enhancing people’s health and wellbeing,” says Mr Cooper. “As a part of this, we’re helping them to realise their ideas and bring them to fruition.”

In turn, the innovators support business owners and their employees by creating the technologies that help workforces manage their health and wellbeing. One of the solutions discovered at the Health Tech & You Awards is Emoquo, a personalised digital coaching app that helps employees deal with everyday workplace challenges quickly and in confidence. The app is based on advice for employees from more than 25 coaches and therapists, and it also anonymously highlights common challenges to managers so they can improve workplace culture. Concerning employee health, AXA PPP healthcare has been working particularly closely with LiveSmart, which offers personalised digital health assessments to help business owners build a happier, healthier workforce. It gives their teams the chance to take a blood test at home and send it off for assessment. Employees receive an in-depth report based on their blood test results, giving them an analysis of a number of physiological factors they could consider as part of an effort to improve their all-round mental, physical and nutritional health.

Technology is also helping business owners provide their employees with fast access to health support.

AXA PPP healthcare has implemented a service called Doctor@Hand, which enables employees to book online GP appointments and have consultations at a time and place that suits them best. The service covers everything from diagnostics to referrals, and enables business owners and their teams to talk to a GP, often within a matter of hours, either by phone or via video chat. Doctor@Hand is provided by Doctor Care Anywhere.

Dr Arup Paul, deputy chief medical officer at AXA PPP healthcare, says emerging health tech innovations offer real value in areas ranging from telehealth and wellbeing tracking to health professionals’ training. It is essential, he says, that there is a framework for testing new technologies, accepted by clinicians and regulators. He adds there is a growing swell of opinion among doctors and scientists that the rigour in studies using apps and artificial intelligence follows best practice and strong results are often visible, as already promoted by the World Health Organization.

From AXA PPP healthcare’s perspective, work is advancing to help people learn how to access and use their own health and wellbeing information more consistently and harness technology that improves their lives.

Mr Cooper concludes: “In the past, companies like ours would have been branded simply as insurance providers, but now we’re able to offer a much broader range of health and wellbeing products and services of which insurance is just one aspect. We’re able to have a relationship with a customer throughout their lifespan, and provide support with their health and wellbeing needs.”

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