Although strides have been made in the incorporation of onsite health centers into employer wellness packages, there are still significant gaps between the services that onsite health centers currently offer and the service packages which will allow them to realize a strong return on investment by lower insurance costs.
The goal of our project was to create a prototype of a ubiquitous monitoring system that allows an onsite health center to collect data about employee health in order to increase timely utilization of health center services by employees. The prototype for this monitoring and communication system, termed Proactive Wellness Environment Support System (PROWESS), will target three critical areas of health concern in the workplace: ergonomics, contagious diseases, and chronic conditions.
Instituting a Personalized and Effective Ergonomic Plan
Despite the fact that lower back pain and other ergonomic injuries pose a significant threat to workplace health and employer insurance costs, the National Safety Council estimates that only 16% of employers have developed effective ergonomic programs. In order to position onsite health centers as strategic partners who are capable of enhancing the ergonomic program of a company, our proposal is that PROWESS utilize force sensitive resistors to detect key inputs for determining whether or not an employee’s posture is ideal. By connecting the sensors to the employee’s computer using Bluetooth technology, the sensors can be used to provide immediate feedback to allow the employee to continuously monitor and correct his/her posture.
Stemming the Spread of Contagious Diseases
It is know that influenza and other infectious diseases are most contagious when an infected individual has an elevated temperature respiratory rate. In order to minimize the infected employee’s contact with other employees and shared equipment, PROWESS will allow computer workstations to be equipped with sensors to detect body temperature and the posture sensors can also monitor respiratory rate. If an employee’s temperature is elevated above normal levels and his/her respiratory rate is also elevated, he/she can receive a notification to visit the onsite health center in order to determine the cause of the fever and breathing pattern.
Managing Chronic Disease
If an employee has a chronic condition or is in a high-risk group for a chronic condition, PROWESS can be used to manage and monitor key vital signs. One such application of PROWESS sensing technology is through the use of a mouse outfitted with a blood volume pulse (BVP) sensor. Since studies have shown that there is a strong positive correlation between resting heart rate and the incidence of cardiovascular and chronic heart diseases, employees can elect to have BVP sensors installed at their workstations to aid them in measuring the effects of lifestyle and behavioral changes.