New Survey Reveals Workers Want ‘Health on Demand’ Digital Solutions from their Employers

Feb 3, 2020

According to a new survey, nearly half of US workers (49%) said they are excited by the prospect of a digital transformation of healthcare. Importantly, 48% said they would have more confidence in a digital health solution if it were offered by their employer, and 26% even say they would be more likely to stay with an employer that offered digital health solutions, such as an app to locate providers or access to virtual healthcare. 

These and other findings come from the inaugural ‘Health on Demand’ survey by Mercer Marsh Benefits, Mercer and Oliver Wyman, which surveyed more than 16,000 workers and 1,300 employers in 13 markets around the world, including seven mature markets and six growth markets*. Insights from the survey, which compares and contrasts separate views of workers and employers, suggest that new technologies may be a game-changer for US employers that face the highest health benefit costs in the world as they strive to satisfy employees’ desire for quality, convenient and affordable healthcare. In fact, nearly seven in ten (68%) of the US employers surveyed plan to invest more in digital health solutions over the next five years. 

"The findings from the ‘Health on Demand’ survey confirm our belief that employers looking to build a workplace culture of well-being and to improve talent retention should consider digital health investments,” said Hervé Balzano, Mercer President, Health. “Otherwise they risk being left behind in today’s competitive global labor markets."

Respondents were shown a list of 15 specific digital health solutions and asked how valuable each would be to them or their families (see Figure 1). The solution that the most workers said they would value, both globally and in the US, is an app that “helps find the right doctor or medical care when and where needed.” In the UK, the most popular solution was wearable technology to help self-manage chronic conditions. And in China, where 76% of workers say they are responsible for the healthcare of a family member (compared to an average of 53% across all 13 countries), the most popular digital health solution was “companion robots that help elderly relatives stay healthy at home”, the solution that ranked near last or last in each of the 12 other countries surveyed. 

Figure 1: Most Popular Digital Health Solutions

Source: ‘Health on Demand’

Workers were also asked how willing they would be to try each of the 15 solutions. Nearly all US workers (94%) were willing or very willing to try at least one. Across the growth markets, workers were willing to try an average of 10 digital health solutions, compared to an average of 5 in mature markets (see Figure 2). To some extent, this disparity may reflect generational influence; a higher percentage of workers in growth markets are Millennials and Gen Z (54%) compared to the workers in mature markets (43%), and younger people tend to be early adopters of technology regardless of geographic location. 

“The survey found that while people have different comfort levels with digital health in general, they are open to solutions that squarely address their values and needs, like an easier way to find the right care,” said Kate Brown, Mercer’s Center for Health Innovation Leader. “In the US, more than in most countries, the cost of healthcare is an important concern. That may point the way to digital solutions that help reduce out-of-pocket spending, like telehealth and wearables.”

“’Health on Demand’ reminds us that employees treat the digital experiences they have in other parts of their lives as the standard for the health benefits they receive from their employers,” said Sam Glick, Leader of the Oliver Wyman Health Innovation Center. “Yet, without paying significant attention to communication, experience, and privacy, employers won’t see that expectation translate to meaningful engagement.”

Interest in digital health solutions is part of a broader focus on workplace culture of health. Clearly, employers in the US believe in the importance of employee well-being; a full 94% say their organization will invest more or the same amount in health and well-being initiatives over the next five years. Further, 77% believe that their organization cares about their workers’ well-being. When workers were asked the same question, however, just 52% said they believe their employer cares about its workers.

Survey results suggest a way to help close this perception gap. According to the ‘Health on Demand’ findings, the wider the range of health and well-being resources an employer offers – from insurance coverages to subsidized nutrition or exercise programs –  the more likely workers are to feel supported and energized, and the less likely they are to leave their employer. Of the US workers who are offered 10 or more such benefits, 68% believe their employers care about them, compared to just 44% of those offered five or fewer. 

To learn more and download the ’Health on Demand’ report, please visit

https://www.mercer.us/our-thinking/mercer-marsh-benefits-health-on-demand.html.

*Growth Markets: Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Mexico
*Mature Markets: Canada, France, Italy, Netherlands, Singapore, UK, US

Figure 2: Average number of digital health solutions (out of 15) workers are "very" or "mostly" willing to try, by country

Source: ‘Health on Demand’

About the Health on Demand survey

Worker and senior decision maker surveys were fielded in June 2019 in seven mature and six growth markets across North America, Europe, Latin America, and Asia. Responses were gathered from 16,564 workers and 1,300 decision makers at organizations of all sizes. Workers included full-time and part-time employees and contract, freelance and gig workers. The margin of error is +/-0.8% for the global worker responses and +/-2.7% for the global employer responses.

About Mercer

Mercer believes in building brighter futures by redefining the world of work, reshaping retirement and investment outcomes, and unlocking real health and well-being. Mercer’s more than 25,000 employees are based in 44 countries and the firm operates in over 130 countries. Mercer is a business of Marsh & McLennan (NYSE: MMC), the world’s leading professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people, with 76,000 colleagues and annual revenue of $17 billion. Through its market-leading businesses including Marsh, Guy Carpenter and Oliver Wyman, Marsh & McLennan helps clients navigate an increasingly dynamic and complex environment. For more information, visit www.mercer.com. Follow Mercer on Twitter @Mercer.

About Oliver Wyman

Oliver Wyman is a global leader in management consulting. With offices in 60 cities across 29 countries, Oliver Wyman combines deep industry knowledge with specialized expertise in strategy, operations, risk management, and organization transformation. The firm has more than 5,000 professionals around the world who work with clients to optimize their business, improve their operations and risk profile, and accelerate their organizational performance to seize the most attractive opportunities. Oliver Wyman is a business of Marsh & McLennan [NYSE: MMC]. For more information, visit www.oliverwyman.com. Follow Oliver Wyman on Twitter @Oliver Wyman.