Traditional wellness programs may be missing the mark when it comes to continued employee engagement and managing health care costs for participants.

More than one-third of consumers in employer-sponsored health plans say they are not engaged with the wellness program on a weekly basis through the year, according to new research from HealthMine, a personal clinical engagement technology platform. The data was fielded over the past week by Survey Sampling International.

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“They [health and wellness programs] are really never held to a benchmark. They are sort of a nice-to-add, but are not necessarily generating real metrics and real ROI,” says Bryce Williams, CEO and president of HealthMine – previously known as SeeChange Health. Prior to joining SeeChange Health, Williams served as managing director of Towers Watson’s exchange solutions business segment and co-founded Extend Health, Inc.

The majority (70%) of the 800 consumers surveyed says their wellness plan helps to manage their health and 71% report their health as a key incentive for participation, yet only 38% believed it helped to manage their health care costs. Meanwhile, use of wearable monitoring devices seemed to grow in use, but only half of plans automatically update data from these tracking devices.

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“We think there are two big misses happening right now,” says Williams. “Employers and carriers can no longer differentiate based on their health insurance plans. Almost everybody is using the same design: higher-deductibles, health saving accounts, more stuff falling onto the employee and participant. The other big miss out there is employees are now bearing a much larger amount of the cost and yet they aren’t doing anything about it.”

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