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How is Your Benefits Strategy Adapting to the Digital Transformation?

For many of our clients, taking a long-term or holistic strategy to health and well-being is a critical component of their desired people strategies. It may now seem long ago given our hard reset on business priorities in 2020, but companies are still working hard to attract and retain top talent. Having a well-crafted benefits strategy and philosophy is central to the success of those talent attraction and retention efforts.

At its core, your benefits philosophy maps your benefits strategy to your desired people strategies and culture. At a minimum, that is usually a three-year plan for most organizations. Whether your goals are specialized solutions for population health or targeting engagement and communications around well-being initiatives, the pandemic in 2020 has altered (in some cases, permanently) how and where your employees work and access healthcare when they need it. At the forefront of this change is the rapid adoption of digital health solutions and telehealth.

How has employee healthcare purchasing changed during the pandemic? A recent study from the Peterson Center on Healthcare and the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) shows the impact. For those with chronic conditions and catastrophic illness potential, the numbers are not encouraging.

  • Cancer screenings are down over 86% vs. one year ago
  • Visits are down in many health systems by up to 50%
  • Preventive services (dental, primary care) and lab testing was down across the board

However, there is a silver lining. Digital health and telehealth visits were up significantly, although not quite enough to offset the total number of healthcare visits normally seen. While the largest utilization of telehealth visits were for routine sick care, the biggest concern remains for those with chronic or serious conditions getting access to telehealth services to maintain their condition and quality of care.

Most significant, HR leaders and CEOs acknowledge one point: the pandemic has increased the speed and adoption of their digital strategies, both in communicating with a distributed and segregated workforce AND in the delivery of healthcare services.

Making sure your benefits philosophy and tactics adapt to this sea of change will be critical to protect your return on the thoughtful healthcare investments you make. Below are a few ideas First Person Advisors have recommended to clients and healthcare vendor partners to help keep your philosophy and tactics laser focused on the outcomes you desire.

Onsite and Near-Site Clinics

Onsite and near-site clinics and traditional physician providers have been able to build out or spin-up telehealth solutions to meet the digital demand. Take the proper steps to ensure your data collection on tele-health vs. onsite visits is captured accurately to ensure you can measure care outcomes in both settings.

Telehealth and Virtual Visits

With the spike in demand to telehealth and e-health virtual care, health systems (hospitals and their facility networks) have had more challenges to ramp up to the digital demand. A recent McKinsey study shows that these systems are more likely to get a better return on investment by standing up telehealth solutions with their own physicians. If telehealth solutions with a local system are an option for you to consider, choose value-based care arrangements to give your investment the best bang for your buck.

Remote Monitoring

If access to care is an issue for your at-risk employee population, remote monitoring technologies to maintain compliance for chronic conditions (diabetes, hypertension, dietary, MSK) has greatly improved and are experiencing broader adoption. Virta, Omada, One Drop, Livongo and Hinge Health are a few examples of enabling solutions that have proven returns.

Communications and Engagement

First Person data shows that employees who engage three to five times per year with their primary care provider are up to 5x more likely to improve the severity of their chronic condition. With your workforce remote or now permanently at home, consider ways your digital communication strategy goes beyond email to target employees to stay engaged in their healthcare. So many providers have come to market with digital engagement platforms that show meaningful results – it can be overwhelming to find the right solution. However, platforms like HealthJoy, Alight and Welltok provide measurable, targeted solutions that help organizations successfully reach employees where they are.

Open Enrollment

Last, there is increasing opportunity to leverage your benefits Open Enrollment (OE) through technology to take your communications strategy firmly into the digital era. Link your philosophy and strategy to these key reasons for engagement and you can make a quick impact in an era that calls for rapidly deployed solutions.

For more ideas or to discuss how to best measure the effectiveness of your benefits philosophy or assess gaps in your long-term benefits strategy to pivot toward digital health solutions, feel free to send me an email or reach out on LinkedIn. We’re passionate about this stuff and would love to hear your story and the aspirations you have for your people.

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