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Community Based Worksite Wellness App Linking Employees to Wellness Resources

Description:

 

Community Based Worksite Wellness App Linking Employees to Wellness Resources

Phase I SBIR proposals will be accepted.

Fast-Track proposals will not be accepted.

Phase I clinical trials will not be accepted.

Number of anticipated awards: 1

Budget (total costs): Phase I: up to $150,000 for up to 6 months

PROPOSALS THAT EXCEED THE BUDGET OR PROJECT DURATION LISTED ABOVE MAY NOT BE FUNDED.

Background

One-third of Americans spend more than 8 hours per day, five days a week at the workplace. This makes the worksite a critical point to encourage and enable health promoting behaviors, practices, and activities. Effective workplace wellness programs can support and improve the quality of life for American workers. However, of the nearly 28 million businesses in the United States, over 99% are considered small-sized, as defined by the Small Business Administration (SBA). This means they have 500 or fewer employees and are far less likely to offer wellness programs. In fact, less than 7% of small employers offer comprehensive wellness programs. (U.S. Census Bureau, SUSB, CPS; International Trade Administration; Bureau of Labor Statistics, BED; Advocacy-funded research, Small Business GDP: Update 2002-2010, www.sba.gov/advocacy/7540/42371).

Smart devices provide opportunities to connect employees (with or without worksite wellness benefits) with wellness and health-supporting products, services, or activities. These services can be provided at no or minimal cost to the employer, minimizing or eliminating one of the key barriers expressed by small employers. Employees benefit from access to potentially discounted products (e.g., meals or sports equipment) or services (e.g., gym membership). Businesses providing these wellness services can also experience economic benefits via increased patronage and improved integration with the community. Improved employee health, in turn, can lead to foreseeable economic and social benefits, such as increased productivity, reduced health care costs, reduced absenteeism, reduced short and long-term disability, and reduced workers compensation claims. In short, employer-sponsored wellness activities can facilitate healthy lifestyle behaviors and reduce employees’ health risks and costs.

Project Goals

The goal of this project is a web-based, smart device application enabling small businesses to build a health and wellness-supporting network of local products and services provided by peer small businesses and others. The worksite wellness app should enable businesses to provide the following, but may provide more:

Bring community wellness services into the worksite, reducing time and access barriers. For example, enabling businesses to connect directly with other businesses providing services such as healthy food service (e.g., vending or catering) or onsite health screenings or wellness classes.

Access to public non-commercial resources available to employees that facilitate health and wellness (e.g., local parks with walking trails).

Connect with a network of local businesses providing a variety of health and wellness products/services.

 

Negotiate discounted rates for employees for services (e.g., gym memberships)/products (e.g., healthy snacks).

Offer specific wellness incentives available from their health insurance plan(s) to facilitate greater uptake by employees (e.g., no or low out of pocket cost prescription tobacco cessation medications including nicotine replacement therapy).

Once a business creates a portfolio of services and shares the account with their employees, the proposed application will present opportunities (e.g., incentives, discounts) and locations (via online maps) on a smart device app and a website. Specific commercial opportunities available to employees may include healthy food (e.g., discounts on healthy offerings at local restaurants, food delivery services, and food retailers), physical activity opportunities (e.g., discounts to gyms, classes, local mass transit information to facilitate active transportation), preventive clinical services (e.g., flu vaccinations, wellness screenings), and dental services. Non-commercial opportunities may include physical activity resources (e.g., information about local parks, walking and riding paths), chronic disease prevention and management classes (e.g., community-based diabetes prevention and management programs, free or discounted community-based exercise classes), tobacco-free living (e.g., tobacco cessation telephone quit-lines), and other public health opportunities (e.g., community health fairs, farmer’s markets).

Phase I Activities and Expected Deliverables

In Phase 1, a web-tech design business with expertise in both building social networks as well as health and wellness services will become familiar with CDC’s worksite wellness program(s), and other large public health or health oriented companies/businesses to develop a web platform and smart device app. This interface needs to enable small and mid-sized businesses interested in designing or enhancing worksite wellness programs to connect with and build a peer network of businesses offering health-related products, services, and resources. Further, the interface will include incentives and other behavioral economic and design strategies, to enhance worksite wellness programs without a significant financial investment by any businesses involved in this venture.

Planning Phase Deliverables:

1. Initial planning meetings;

2. Proof of concept: examine similar (web-based, smart device applications) to determine the necessary steps to create and launch a viable product, including concept pilot testing with small businesses;

3. A website wireframes; including a skeleton framework of application, website portals, and smart device apps linking services together and how they are linked (in a static format). Wireframes must consider the range of available functions, informational and functional priorities, rules for displaying various types of information, and the effect of different scenarios of use on outputs, while including: a. A Business (owner) interface with the ability to add employees and opportunities. This interface must be able to receive and share opportunities with its employees (i.e., businesses can contact the website to offer resources).

b. An employee (user) interface enabling the viewing of resources in various wellness categories and by time-period.

c. The ability for business owners and employees, as appropriate, to specify wellness opportunities, geographic radius, and time-period for opportunity (is there a discount on a healthy lunch nearby?).

d. Screen-shots of the website framework (depiction of what the screens and layout will look like).

4. Develop partnerships with local, state, and national level government and non-profit organizations that assist in identifying and creating access to worksite wellness resources (e.g., American Heart Association, Chamber of Commerce, city governments, National Alliance of Health Care Purchasers Coalition, local and state health departments, Health Enhancement Research Organization).

5. Develop automated and other methods to identify and recruit relevant local businesses to the wellness network and to extract relevant information about local resources such as parks and mass transit.

Impact

This web-based and mobile application has direct utility to the over 99% of the 28 million businesses in America that are small-sized that may not currently offer worksite wellness programs. This App has particular relevance in less densely populated areas, where there are limited if any worksite wellness opportunities. This App will potentially increase access to health by promoting and supporting opportunities American workers who work for small or midsized business. Impact and methods for improvement will be assessed via collecting data and information on access and participation, user feedback,

 

ease of use/feasibility, utility, and cost. There is also the potential for economic impact by increasing patronage of local business and, in turn improving productivity and decreasing illness and thus absenteeism among workers.

Commercialization Potential

Employers have an incentive to use this application/website as a worksite wellness platform to improve the health and performance of their employees. Businesses participating in wellness resources gain access to new customers. Consumer and business traffic created by this app may also lead to other commercialization opportunities through advertising, insurance benefits or fee for use after it has established itself.

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