Companies have varying definitions of corporate wellness, from lofty slogans and rhetorical proclamations to practical goals and official policies on behalf of employers and employees. However, there is another component to this phenomenon, which, support or opposition to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) notwithstanding, confirms the necessity of having an expansive description of personal health, health insurance and the myriad factors responsible for how a business oversees, processes and safeguards the digital information at the center of this issue.
In fact, we can reduce the entirety of this debate, with its assembled forces and ideological warriors, to a simple matter of two words: Information technology (IT). More precisely, we can refine this term to three words, which constitute an overriding theme for businesses in general and health care in particular: Managed IT Solutions.
The term is more precise because the service itself is more precise, allowing companies with a commitment to wellness, which translates into enabling employees to have access to quality insurers and resources about diet, exercise and nutrition, to use technology more intelligently. The most practical and immediate example of this point is the controversy relating to HealthCare.Gov, the official website for the Affordable Care Act.
Again, I write these words without partisan rancor or any conflict of interest. Indeed, put aside the political arguments about the Act, since it is now a matter of established law and constitutional precedent - and reread the recent news stories and headlines, to identify the source of this dispute: The (presumably temporary) failure of IT professionals to make even the site's most basic features, like registering and enrolling to buy insurance, functional. An online destination for millions of Americans is, at the moment, both a symbol of poor planning and a metaphor for the necessity of Managed IT Solutions.
First, let me reiterate and expand upon my statement about the Act as a whole. My comments are the result of observations, not observational bias, as there is a difference between the two; one is an objective review of the facts, while the other is a purposefully skewed version of events we wish to be true or false.
These points of qualification are important because, as someone with passion for health and a lifelong interest in technology, culminating in my role as Founder and President of My Instant Guru, which provides a wide range of IT services, I believe corporate wellness (as a principle and a goal) is impossible without the right technology.
Let me clarify this point by asking and answering a fundamental question: What is the connection between technology and health, or the relationship between the promotion of corporate wellness and a successful IT department?
The bond between the two is inseparable - one is nothing more than a noble idea without the other, while technology without a purpose is useless - so the plan for every company should be to eliminate the needless costs or complications of one (IT) for the betterment of all (through the rise of corporate wellness).
Accomplishing that goal means companies need to switch to managed IT services - and this assertion is not self-promotional on my part, as it simply reflects my knowledge of current circumstances - because the subsequent savings can go to essential programs relating to health and wellness.
While this relationship may still seem a bit academic, here is a good way to understand the union between IT and everything else a company does. IT is a company's core of operations and existence - from the functionality of an organization's website and protection of their digital materials to compliance with various federal laws (about privacy, electronic medical records and consumer data) to overseeing the activity of a mobile workforce - IT personnel are essential workers.
The paradox is that, because IT experts are so important, they are often too expensive for companies to hire. And therein lies the main dilemma: How can a company with a passion for promoting corporate wellness do anything, when it cannot even afford a full-time, in-house IT department?
The answer is one of priorities and resources. Make wellness a priority, yes, but do so with the understanding that technology does not have to be the online equivalent of a sacrificial burnt offering, to placate the gods of IT.
On the contrary, by taking IT out of the equation - and out of the office, to be the chief responsibility of independent and trusted experts - companies will have more money for wellness programs like, say, group exercise studios, seminars about diet and nutrition, preventive care and other sundry services at the heart of healthy living and true health insurance reform.
In fact, the savings from transferring the work of a single in-house IT consultant to a managed provider is at least $100,000, excluding benefits, state and federal taxes, disability policies and other add-ons, which bring the final sum - for just one employee - into the "red zone" of extremely expensive. That money, multiplied by an additional three to five employees, could fund the wellness initiatives a company needs and the projects workers deserve.
Technology and personal health are neither mutually exclusive nor inherently incompatible. Indeed, they are very compatible -- provided companies pursue the right policies. In so doing, a culture of corporate wellness can flourish, employees can prosper and technology - the IT standard of excellence - can remain strong and intact. From there, health care reform, in the broadest sense of the term, will become a reality.
About the Author
Michael Hosey is the Founder and President of My Instant Guru, a leading provider of managed IT services, innovative technology solutions and other customized vendor resources.