In Week Three of RESOLVE Increments, we were extremely fortunate to have Janet Trautwein, CEO of the National Association of Health Underwriters, as our headliner. I love hearing Janet speak, so I kept my talk on top trends for benefits short and sweet. I kicked off with a question, “What benefits are your employees asking for the most?” It was no surprise that people are asking for more flexibility and remote work arrangements.
If there is one thing the pandemic has truly borne out in the workplace, I think it’s that people can work from home and be productive, strong contributors. This year has also impacted healthcare benefits, and I’ll touch on those in my Top Trends for Benefits in 2021. To gain full access to my talk, that of Janet Trautwein and all the resources from RESOLVE Increments Week Three, go here.
#1 Personalized Healthcare
Accentuated in the past year, work from home and hybrid situations have changed the equation. People want parity and consistency, and these seem to be at odds with work from home. Here’s where I think it’s going. Employers must be thoughtful in this new era. Here’s an example: if your employees are accustomed to snacks in the breakroom, how does that change when so many are working from home? It’s a nice perk – but if nobody is there to enjoy it, you must adjust and be thoughtful as to the impact. Meet your employee where they are on their employment journey.
One other thing we’re seeing in this space is targeted interventions for chronic disease states. In the past, employers have taken an approach where they “peanut-buttered” care across the entire organization. That’s great for employee engagement and communication. There are various companies now that provide great services specifically for diseases such as diabetes, COPD and the like.
#2 Virtual and Telehealth
Spurred by the pandemic and the “closing of healthcare,” we saw 46% of patients using telehealth to replace in-person visits. We learned that it works. We saw that it’s OK. In fact, we saw that it can be a positive resource for employees. It is the case that 20% of ER visits could be avoided with telemedicine. That would be good for employers and employees. The safety and efficiency of telehealth is now acknowledged, and we need to make sure our employees are aware of telehealth as an option and how to use it.
#3 Employee Engagement is Imperative
The world is going digital. And digital health solutions are going with it. In 2020, we saw $14 B in investment in this space. And in the first quarter of 2021, that number is $6.7 B. Digital health tech has been improved and accelerated by the pandemic.
An example exists in our own house, where we piloted the Digital Benefits Guide, which really changes the way people engage with their benefits communication. We’re doing away paper forms and PDFs. It’s about moving to where people want to be – and we’re encouraging our clients to go this direction right now and in the coming year.
Another great example of digital health solution is Health Joy. Health Joy is a third-party app-based product. We see about 50% of members log-in. 33% use a healthcare service when they log in. And, the use of Health Joy increases uses of telehealth by 10 times. It’s efficient and meets people where they are.
I am also reminded of how often we look at our phones – I’ve read 150 times daily. Your mileage may vary. Mine’s higher for sure! Add to that the fact that by 2025, around 75% of the workforce will be millennials, and it’s safe to say that digital health solutions and digital communare here to stay.
#4 Emotional and Mental Wellness
The pandemic has made us acutely aware of its importance. And I think we, in the US, although we might be 20 years behind our friends in Canada, have been given smelling salts on the importance of mental health and well-being in the workplace. It’s OK to talk about it in a healthy and productive way. I urge you, as leaders, to take the lead in continuing the conversation with the folks you love and care for in your workplace. I might also mention that we had a great conversation on this topic during Week Two of RESOLVE Increments. It’s worth a listen!
#5 Containing Benefits Plan Costs
This could be its own RESOLVE series. Within this larger trend, I should highlight one cost containment trend in particular, Pharmacy Benefits Managers (PBMs). These are typically for self-funded plans, but it’s useful for all employers to be aware of them. When these carveouts are transparent, we can see where the money is going relative to prescriptions. There are 32 different ways PBMs make money – this includes mechanisms like rebates and spread pricing. Transparency is important and it is a feature of the best PBMs. The second thing they can provide is improved and more targeted clinical resources. Lastly, they can help contain healthcare costs. As your business strives to control prescription drug costs, it’s important to spend time learning about PBMs.
Those are the five trends. Before I go, I want to point you to two important resources on this topic. You’ll find them on our RESOLVE Increments Week Three On Demand page. The first is a blog post we wrote covering legislation on the state level. In this case, it was Indiana, but the information is universal. The post explains the nature of PBMs, so it will broaden your insight into how they work. The second resource is a white paper we wrote, detailing the pros and cons of self-funding. It’s highly relevant today as so many employers are either already self-funding or considering it strongly.
Gain full access to my talk, that of Janet Trautwein and all the resources from RESOLVE Increments Week Three here.
Transform Your Mindset: Be the Leader You Aspire to Be
Coming up next! In Week Four of RESOLVE Increments we discussed leading in the new world of work. Join First Person’s Dr. Rebecca Ellis and TEDx speaker and artist Phil Hansen for an interactive session where you’ll learn how to turn your challenges into opportunities and be the leader you’ve always dreamed of . Get your on-demand webinar here.