Wellness app promotes healthy competition

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By Amber Daugherty

The health of employees has never been so important – with rising rates of stress, the constant connectivity that many staff members have to their work, and enhanced conversations about mental health, it is essential for employers to ensure they’re supporting and promoting health and wellness. To do this, hospitals across the province have resources in place, including Employee Assistance Programs and educational information for staff members — and now St. Joseph’s Health Centre Toronto is going one step further by launching a health-based app as part of their wellness strategy.

Sprout is a networking platform similar to Facebook and Twitter that allows users to connect – with a special twist – it’s entirely focused on health and wellness. Once a user registers, they’re encouraged to complete a health risk assessment; based on data including the amount of vegetables they eat, how frequently they exercise and the stress they experience, Sprout gives users a health index number – between one to 100 – to indicate generally how healthy they are. Users can also see personal potential risk factors – for example, if someone in their immediate family has diabetes, they may be at increased risk for the disease.

“We wanted to partner with Sprout and invest in launching a wellness app because it’s important to us as an organization that we are taking care of our people, so that together, our teams can provide the best possible care to the patients and families we serve in our community,” said Mitch Birken, Senior Director, Human Resource Consulting. “Sprout complements our wellness program – it’s a space where we can share activities and events and for staff to celebrate one another’s accomplishments.”

The app provides unique opportunities, including promotion of health-related challenges where users can track their status in real-time. Users can also keep track of their daily activity and earn points for being active – walking 45 minutes, for example, will earn someone over 150 points. Accumulating points gets users up to bronze, silver and gold levels, and helps populate leaderboards – at the organization, on the unit level, and so on.

Virona Ibrahim, wellness coordinator at St. Joe’s, said she was really excited when she started using the app because of the potential it holds.

“We’ve traditionally advertised health challenges on units, which has been effective, but this will allow more active participation from our staff members,” she said. “There’s a healthy competition involved as well – when you see that your colleague is winning the stair-climbing challenge, for example, you might be more motivated to join in and catch up.

It also provides a go-to area where staff members can access health resources – they can opt into different groups like meditation, stress, healthy eating and we can share information and education that they might find interesting. We’re really excited because we think this will be a great fit for our teams, and help encourage happier, healthier lifestyles.”

Amber Daugherty is a Communications Associate, St. Joseph’s Health Centre Toronto.