Health and Safety
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A new approach to support employee health beyond the four walls

By Jacob Sattelmair


Most employers agree – a more convenient, digital approach is required to support employees’ health beyond the four walls of care delivery.

But there are seemingly countless patient engagement point solutions on the market. How do you choose? How can you meet the diverse needs of your employees without overwhelming them with apps, platforms and programs to manage – especially those managing one or more conditions?

For some time, it has fallen on employers themselves to identify and offer solutions that address the health needs of their employees. As a result, the team is left with the time-consuming responsibility of sourcing and managing numerous vendors across health and wellness, disease-specific interventions and care navigation support.

Here’s the good news: progressive health plans are now starting to deliver more holistic and convenient support to employees beyond the four walls. Known as digital health management, this new approach takes more of the burden off of employer benefits leaders while delivering enhanced employee experience and outcomes. Getting these services from the plan allows for tighter integration with plan design, providers and healthcare data.

Benefits leaders looking to achieve digital health management success are smart to partner with health plans that can deliver these capabilities:

Help employees better navigate the health system.

Meet employees where they are.

Support the whole person to get better results.

1. Help employees better navigate the health system

Eighty-one per cent of employees who can easily access their benefits said they feel loyal to their employer, according to a Thomsons Online Benefits Global Employee Benefits Watch report. However, given the complexities of the healthcare system, it can be challenging to schedule appointments, get financial and administrative questions answered, get support for chronic conditions or guidance following a hospital discharge. As a result, employees may postpone care, make choices that are not cost effective and feel frustrated with their benefits package.

To reduce employee frustration and help them better understand and utilize their benefits, consider working with health insurers to implement a co-ordinated, unified concierge service.

The health plan digital concierge approach

Help your employees spend less time on hold. The digital concierge is accessible by mobile app and provides your employees with a single resource to address their diverse needs. The concierge develops a trusting relationship to help match employees to appropriate healthcare resources, whether accessing urgent care, finding a specialist, getting to an appointment and more.

Health plans with a digital concierge are able to integrate the workflows of care management and customer service, which gives plans the unique ability to capture key metrics on consumer actions. The result? Organizations can better forecast what employees need; and employees can provide reviews through surveys, creating a forum for data exchange that empowers them to better control their healthcare. These new functions create a shift in how employees feel about the management of their healthcare.

The digital concierge is a scalable way to engage more employees while giving them options to get support through their preferred communication channel. Instead of overwhelming your employees with health communications and outreach, the concierge helps streamline outreach from providers, the health plan and third-party services to deliver a better experience.

Additionally, this approach can help employees receive more effective, personalized support. Progressive health plans are starting to segment and target employees not by claim group, but rather by social and behavioural conditions. This approach, combined with a new recruitment strategy to engage members, can lead to higher adoption rates and greater employee satisfaction.

By focusing first on the needs of the employee, the health plan digital concierge approach builds trust through human relationships in order to better influence engagement and health outcomes in the long run.

2. Meet employees where they are

To better engage employees toward improved health, employees need a more convenient, accessible and personalized way to manage their health.

Follow these strategies to ensure your health plan can offer an experience that drives employee engagement and satisfaction.

Deliver omnichannel engagement

No one likes playing phone tag. That’s why employers should expect health plans to provide health management support through a combination of phone calls, messaging, apps, web and video chat so employees can choose the method that meets their needs in the moment. Mobile messaging ensures flexibility and accessibility, so employees can respond on their own time; rather than during business hours.

Provide a personalized experience

To help employees better manage medical conditions, avoid a one-size-fits all approach to patient education. Instead, make sure health plans can deliver dynamic, adaptable health programs with videos, digestible articles, reminders and more health guidance designed to suit the individual needs of each employee.

Build trusted, supportive relationships

An effective health management solution should give employees daily, long-term support from real clinicians, rather than intermittent outreach. Organizations should also consider utilizing a non-clinical engagement specialist, also known as a Health Advocate, to offer ongoing emotional support and encouragement through mobile messaging. The Health Advocate can work with the employee over time to set and track progress toward specific, measurable actionable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) goals.

3. Support the whole person to get better results

It’s estimated that approximately 80 per cent of health outcomes are determined by non-medical factors such as behaviour, environment and socioeconomics. In other words, employees’ health happens at home.

In an attempt to address these numerous health factors, many organizations employ a number of standalone point solutions, such as wellness programs, texting services or condition-specific apps, like diabetes programs. According to a Wellframe survey, on average, organizations manage between four and nine different digital point solutions. However, instead of helping employees reach their health goals, this approach risks leaving them overwhelmed or confused by often overlapping services.

To improve employees’ experience, reduce absenteeism and differentiate your benefits package, make sure the chosen health plan delivers holistic support that encourages employees to adopt a new perspective on all the factors that contribute to their health.

Support multiple conditions in a single solution

Chronic conditions are on the rise, but most condition-specific point solutions, such as diabetes apps, can’t address the overlapping symptoms employees may experience. Instead, make sure health plans offer support for multiple conditions in one solution, like diabetes, hypertension and more, as well as transitional care.

Address mental and physical health

People with a medical illness or condition are more likely to suffer from depression, but the reverse is also true: Anxiety and depression are risk factors for other illnesses and drive higher incidences of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and more conditions. To support employees’ whole-health needs, it’s crucial to deliver behavioural health support alongside condition-related guidance.

Reinforce lifestyle changes

To meet their health goals, most employees also need support for weight loss, nutrition and exercise – tangible lifestyle factors they can meaningfully change to improve their health. Providing useful information to help them shop for healthy foods, track their physical activity and more, within the context of their clinical condition, will help employees understand how therapeutic lifestyle changes can have a positive, direct impact on their health.

Key takeaways

Organizations shouldn’t have to bear the burden of managing numerous outsourced services and vendors that address slivers of health management. Instead, employers should demand more from their health plan partners, who are in the best position to deliver these solutions in a holistic and integrated fashion. Employers who partner with progressive health plans can stay competitive in a tight job market, control costs and engage employees toward better health by delivering the following capabilities:

Help employees navigate the complexities of the healthcare system.

Meet employees where they are with convenient, digital and personalized support.

Support the whole person across chronic conditions, mental health and wellness to achieve better results.

Jacob Sattelmair is the CEO and co-founder of Wellframe.




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