CDC mulls digital health app to support workforce


The US Centres for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) has said it would like to identify a digital health app that it could offer to its more than 10,000 employees to help support their mental health and wellbeing.

A contract opportunity document published by the agency says it is looking for vendors that could provide “subscription-based licenses for access to a commercially available digital, mental health mobile application with mindfulness and meditation features that specifically fit the needs of government employees.”

Respondents will have to be quick, though, as proposals will have to be received by the CDC’s WorkLife Wellness Office (WWO) by 30 March, with more details available here.

The CDC is looking for apps that improve the psychological wellbeing of employees by providing links to “physical activities, stress-reduction interventions, mindfulness-based self-help interventions, and guided meditation.”

The move ties in with the wider trend among US employers to provide wellbeing programmes to staff, which gathered pace during the pandemic, following the rationale that healthier and happier employees are more productive, have fewer absences and are less likely to suffer work-related stress and injuries.

A CDC survey published last year found that 40% of the US public health workforce intended to leave their jobs within the next five years after facing high levels of stress and burnout during the COVID-19 crisis.

The CDC stresses that it isn’t a formal tender process, but an information-gathering exercise for planning purposes. However, the agency adds that it could lead to a 12-month contract with four additional 12-month option periods.

The WWO has signed up to the eight dimensions of wellness framework for its employees, covering emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social, and spiritual wellbeing.

A study from 2021 reported on found that 79% of employees believed their company’s wellbeing programmes helped them be as productive as possible, and the same proportion also believed the programmes had helped them avoid getting sick.

Applicants will have to show that they have mobile and web capabilities and be able to accommodate a signup page on the CDC website for employees, along with an administrative dashboard, aggregate reporting on usage, updated meditation and mindfulness content on a weekly basis and webinar content, says the document.

They will also have to be able to go live with the app within a month of the contract being awarded, provide a customer engagement manager and monthly performance and status reports, and be authorised by FedRAMP – a federal programme for assessment, authorisation, and continuous monitoring for cloud products and services – if offering the app via the cloud.