How Digital Is Transforming Employee Healthcare

November 16, 2015
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Even as employers are shifting healthcare costs back onto employees’ shoulders companies are realizing that employee wellbeing can have an impact on the bottom line. While those employees are now responsible for a greater percentage of their medical bills, technological advances are also making it easier for them to not only find and access care but also to focus on wellness and prevention.

Even as employers are shifting healthcare costs back onto employees’ shoulders companies are realizing that employee wellbeing can have an impact on the bottom line. While those employees are now responsible for a greater percentage of their medical bills, technological advances are also making it easier for them to not only find and access care but also to focus on wellness and prevention.  Employers are consequently latching onto these digital assets to make keeping employees healthier and more productive easier and less expensive. Here’s how:

 

Interactive Online Portals

 

Even the simplest health insurance benefits package can be hard to understand, making employee benefits education a potentially time-consuming process that eats into one or more workdays. Portals put everything employees need to know in one place so HR is answering fewer questions. FAQs, bulletins, updates and package information are accessible from anywhere, any time. Depending on the company plan, employees may even be able to make policy changes or payments through the portal.

 

Gamification and Wearables

 

Promoting health and wellness as a company often means supporting employee efforts to lose weight and get fit. Gamification in healthcare involves using psychology to drive positive behavior like exercising and eating right. Points, badges, leaderboards and level systems can bring out the natural competitiveness in individual employees or departments, helping them achieve virtually any healthcare goals. For instance, successful smoking cessation and weight loss programs don’t necessarily have to offer a tangible reward if individual or team milestones are posted publically and celebrated. Wearables come into play as an easy opt-in way to track employee fitness goals.

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Virtual Care

 

A single doctor’s appointment can put an employee out of commission for an entire day but many non-emergency visits can be handled virtually. There are now multiple emerging startups that offer anytime online access to doctors, nurses and specialists, and these can reduce the time that employees are out of office for non-critical care as well as the overall cost of non-critical care. Services like MyHealth Online can also help improve productivity by giving employees a two-way avenue of communication with doctors that can be used after a practice has closed its doors for the day. And the availability of virtual care can improve compliance with health goals because in many cases, when online care options are available people are more likely to consult with a doctor about an illness or other issue.

 

Big Data and Analytics

 

Employees might not be in favor of employers tracking their health and habits but that doesn’t change the fact that analytics can be used to build enhanced benefits packages. Illness trends and healthcare usage patterns, along with predictive analytics, can be a valuable money-saving asset because they make it easier to create benefit packages that inspire employee loyalty, are attractive to new employees and help a company and its employees save money on care. Data can also be used to drive benefit incentive programs. For instance, employees who meet certain health and wellness goals may be rewarded with a reduction in premiums, deductibles or co-pays.  

 

The fact that nearly every employee has near-constant access to tablets, smartphones and phablets (91 percent of adults have a mobile device within reach at all times) is clearly beneficial for employers where healthcare is concerned. Online access to policy information, doctors and wellness strategies can save time and money across the board. That’s because digital technology is already making it possible for employees to take charge of their own health, and when employers support those efforts everyone wins.