Employee Health And Wellness Programs Have Overlooked Brain Health: The Case For Adding A Brain Vital Sign

Employee Health And Wellness Programs Have Overlooked Brain Health

The Case For Adding A Brain Vital Sign
Neuroscientist, Entrepreneur & President of NeuroCatch, Inc. Dr. Ryan D'Arcy shares insights on brain imaging, disorders & medical tech.
June 13, 2024

In the fast-paced world of business, where every decision can make or break a company's success, we meticulously monitor various business vital signs to ensure optimal performance and efficiency. From tracking financial metrics to assessing operational effectiveness, we consistently use objective data to optimize performance and enhance the bottom line. But what about all the brains behind all the decisions?

Bridging Business And Body Vital Signs

Much like a business, our bodies provide vital sign information to function at optimal capacity. Seldom does one naturally bring business and body vital signs together, as the heart of a business would ostensibly seem separate from the heart of a body. However, amid the hustle and bustle of daily life and corporate juggling, one crucial aspect often overlooked is the health of our most valuable assets: our brains and their vital signs.

In today's knowledge-based economy, where innovation and creativity reign supreme, so too does the peak performance of the corporate athlete. Hence, the importance of maintaining optimal brain health cannot be overstated. Our ability to think quickly and critically, solve complex problems and adapt to ever-changing circumstances is directly linked to the well-being of our brains. Yet, unlike traditional vital signs such as heart rate, blood pressure and temperature, brain health is not routinely assessed. Yet.

Emerging from this is a new wave of corporate athletes who are interested in keeping themselves in the high-brain performance zone. This is where the concept of brain vital sign monitoring comes in. Just as we diligently monitor business vital signs to ensure the smooth functioning of our organizations, the addition of brain health monitoring enables one to get ahead of cognitive impairment issues, optimize cognitive performance and ultimately drive better business outcomes. We can do this by measuring brain wave activity similar to cardiac activity and then “pinging” our supercomputer brains to test the system for well-known responses critical to information processing—a.k.a. brain vital signs.

The concept of a brain vital sign is not as far-fetched as it may seem. In particular, it has been possible to advance this as an innovation in sports performance and concussions. Advances in neuroscience and technology have provided invaluable insights into speeded cognitive processing along with greatly improved sensitivity to cognitive processing impairments associated with concussive impact exposure. By leveraging this in business, we can develop objective measures to assess and track brain health in the workplace.

Implementing Brain Vital Sign Monitoring

What would brain vital sign monitoring entail? As both a neuroscientist and entrepreneur, I am consistently seeking ways to bridge the gap between research and industry. By commercializing medical-grade tools and making them accessible to the public, I believe it is possible to make brain vital signs monitoring ubiquitous.

With recent innovations in neurotechnology, some devices can provide non-invasive, lab-quality results in minutes. Think of it as a blood pressure cuff but for your brain. In addition to AI-powered neurotechnology, it is also important to include traditional cognitive assessments, such as memory tests and reaction time measurements, as well as evaluations of lifestyle factors known to impact brain health, such as sleep quality, nutrition and stress levels.

Implementing a brain vital sign empowers individual employees to optimize their performance in a merit-based corporation. It also provides the critical ability to objectively evaluate effective brain health and performance solutions. All too often, we do things with the hope that it helps our brains. Why not objectively measure and find out? Again, a shout-out to those intrepid pioneers who are already characterizing and cataloging personalized brain performance tools and routines. They are trail-blazing the path for many more corporate athletes to come.

Optimizing Business Performance Through Brain Health

Prioritizing brain health in the workplace can have significant implications for productivity, innovation and overall business performance. Research has consistently shown that employees with good cognitive health are more engaged, productive and creative. They are more capable of managing intricate tasks, adjusting to changes and playing a significant role in the organization's achievements.

Of course, implementing a brain vital sign requires increased and novel action on the part of employers and entrepreneurs, in other words, a rapidly growing market sector. Google, Apple and Salesforce are prime examples of employers that prioritize the brain health of their employees. This may involve incorporating cognitive assessments into routine health screenings, providing education and training on brain health best practices and fostering a culture that values and prioritizes mental well-being. However, the long-term benefits far outweigh the initial effort and cost investment.

Perhaps the “hearts” of businesses are, in fact, the “brains” that drive the business forward every day. As Steve Jobs famously said: "It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do." Optimizing business vital signs by optimizing brain vital signs directly enables all smart people to do that at the top of their game.

(See this article on Forbes.com)