- Remote care programs for employees are providing a fresh approach to workplace wellness.
- The pandemic is triggering a surge in demand for remote care, as fewer people are able or willing to visit doctors and practitioners.
- Bill Gianoukos, co-founder of self-care program Goodpath, explains how it works and why he believes this approach is “the future of corporate wellness”.
In recent years, wellness has become a top priority for employers. Leaders are realising that a healthy workforce is a happier workforce, which equates to better levels of engagement, productivity and company loyalty, not to mention fewer sick days.
For companies seeking to improve the overall wellbeing of their workforce, the workplace is often the first to come under the spotlight. From embracing biophilic design to addressing ‘sick’ buildings, there are many different ways to improve the workplace experience to enhance the wellness of the people using it.
But what about self-care? Are individuals doing enough to recognise and treat ailments, pain, or mental health concerns? And how can organizations support the self-care route?
Suggested Reading: Is Wellness a Skill You Can Teach Yourself?
Personalised self-care programs are seeing a surge in demand as the pandemic affects every aspect of how we live and work. To find out how self-care programs work, Bill Gianoukos, co-founder of Goodpath, a provider of personalised and doctor-approved self-care programs, took part in a Q&A with Allwork.Space.
Here are the highlights of our conversation (answers received via email).
Allwork.Space: Tell us a little about Goodpath and how it all began.
Bill Gianoukos: I founded Goodpath with two co-founders, Carl Nehme and Dr. Akl Fahed in 2018 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Goodpath is the third company I have co-founded — the previous two companies focused on building social apps and were sold to Wayfair and Salesforce.
Goodpath is a new approach to health. It is simple, personalized care for common conditions with proven results. Patients finally have access to robust, integrative healthcare that is coach-supported and evolves with them. It is more than conventional care — this is care done differently.
Allwork.Space: What prompted you to launch Goodpath, and why? What was missing in corporate wellness programs at the time?
Conventional healthcare in the US is the best in the world for life-threatening conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension. But conditions like MSK (musculoskeletal pain) and behavioral health are chronic, difficult to treat completely, and very common. These conditions are prevalent in all employee bases. Employers have tried some single-point solutions, like digital physical therapy or services for nutrition coaching. That can work for part of the problem, but not the whole. Instead, multiple studies prove that a more effective way to treat conditions like MSK and behavioral health is integrative care.
By considering the whole of a person and combining that with the best treatments available from both conventional and complementary care, one can treat a person in a more complete way. However, integrative care can be expensive to offer. Just think of the time and energy you invest going to a PCP, then being referred to a dietician and physical therapist, taking yoga classes online, trying something recommended by a friend, back to a different specialist, etc. Goodpath solves all of this. We are more than a single point solution. We offer end-to-end care across multiple specialties to address various aspects of a condition. And by providing all of this online and with direct delivery of products to one’s home, we make this accessible to employees wherever they are.
Allwork.Space: How does the program work? What type of self-care solutions can you offer?
Every Goodpath personalized program is based on the fundamental principles of integrative health. Integrative health combines the best of conventional and complementary medicine for end-to-end care. All our programs are centered around four pillars: Nutrition, Mind-Body, Exercise, and Supplements & Medicine. These pillars are framed by our multidisciplinary medical team of doctors, pharmacists, physical therapists, sleep specialists, nutritionists, yoga therapists, etc. who research and vet every treatment we include in a program.
After completing a 5-minute comprehensive assessment, we design an integrative program personalized for a Goodpath member to address the whole person, not just their symptoms. Then, the member is assigned a medically trained health coach who stays with them weekly to support progress and is available 24/7 to answer questions.
The program changes every week, depending on the member’s progress on their health journey. Health isn’t static, so neither is their care. For example, a digestive health program could start with 1:1 nutrition counseling and a food elimination and reintroduction diet, exercises and mind-body approaches for stress and other contributory factors, and targeted supplements, such as a clinically reviewed probiotic, to support overall health. Over time, exercises may change as strength changes or new supplements may be added, all of which would be led by each dedicated health coach working with each member.
Allwork.Space: You focus on the core areas of musculoskeletal pain (MSK), and behavioral health associated with sleep and digestive health. Why these specific areas?
When you look at the US population, 85% of all adults suffer from either sleep, digestive health, or musculoskeletal pain issues. Those conditions are challenging to treat, chronic, and costly. For each of these three conditions, the most effective treatment approach is integrative health that prioritizes conservative approaches rather than expensive and aggressive diagnostics (eg. MRI), prescription medications, or surgeries. By developing an innovative way of delivering evidence-based integrative care, we bring value to both employees and employers. These were natural starting places for us. In time, we will be expanding to other areas of care.
Allwork.Space: Why is support for mental and physical health in the workplace so important?
Work from home has taken a severe toll on employees’ mental and physical health. It has the opposite effect of work-life balance for many. Instead, it is causing employees to be more stressed, sleepless, and experience severe burnout, which can be challenging to manage without access to the appropriate resources.
The majority of employees have also been working longer hours throughout the pandemic, taking away from the free time they could have used for exercising, spending time with family and friends, or simply relaxing. Because of this, employees need different types of support from their employers. Before the pandemic, many corporate benefits included discounted gym memberships, free lunch at the office, or in-person events. Now that most employees are home – and often unable to achieve a healthy work-life balance – they need resources and tools to help them maintain a better balance that supports their mental health and enables them to create better habits.
When companies adapt to the remote work model and provide innovative resources that employees can use while at home – including access to personalized health programs tailored to their unique needs – companies can show their employees that they appreciate them and, in turn, support their productivity and job satisfaction. One other simple yet important example we’ve seen a lot with our members who transitioned to remote work is the new onset neck and back pain due to poor ergonomics of work-from-home set-ups. Our coaching team provides consults to help people optimize their new working environment to prevent further injury with excellent results.
Allwork.Space: I can see how a digital consultation provides faster access to healthcare — but some people may have concerns over safety. Without a physical examination, how are you able to provide a complete assessment?
Since no two people are alike, their care should not be either. Goodpath makes the process very simple and easy, right from home yet completely customized. All individuals have to do is:
- Take a 5 minute health assessment covering all primary aspects of their health, their condition, possible contributory factors, and prior treatment approaches.
- Following that, Goodpath maps all their answers against medically validated metrics like the Epworth Sleepiness Scale or General Anxiety Disorder scale to understand their unique circumstance.
- Then, Goodpath creates a custom program with proven medical treatment across multiple care dimensions to help them start feeling better.
Notwithstanding, there are a small number of cases when Goodpath is not an appropriate solution. A subset of people (<5%) do need further in-person evaluation by their doctor for physical exam, diagnostics, and prescription treatment. We screen and redirect this small group to contact their doctor or appropriate medical professional.
Allwork.Space: How has the pandemic impacted your program — have you seen more interest, perhaps from people who are unable to get to a doctor?
Absolutely. These days, employers deal with additional stressors such as their jobs, childcare, remote learning for their kids, financial issues, and their concern for their family’s health and safety. Many people do not have the time to go see in-person providers right now or don’t want to because of COVID-19 concerns. They instead prefer virtual care from the comfort of their home. Our recent Goodpath Employer Health Index survey showed that over 80% of employers are interested in adding more comprehensive wellness programs like Goodpath to their benefits portfolio.
Allwork.Space: Do you see this type of approach — ie. remote health assessment and treatments — becoming more prevalent in the future?
Yes, this is the future of corporate wellness. Heading into the New Year, health-focused benefits are on the top of employees’ minds and companies are figuring out ways to implement these types of programs into their benefits packages. This is a unique approach to feeling better, and it’s all centered on the individual’s schedule, lifestyle, and needs.
Not only is it a far simpler way to solve a person’s current health issues, but it has also proven to be extremely effective for the employee’s health outcomes and is thus of high value to the employer.
Companies that use integrative care have seen $11K direct medical savings per year per employee. Not to mention, employees, on average, save 12 working days and avoid 23 trips to the doctor. These programs treat back pain 4X faster and see a reduction of 85% in pharmaceutical costs. This type of care is better for the employee and better for the company.