As healthcare costs continue to rise, large employers are constantly looking for ways to positively impact the lives of their employees and families, while driving down costs. As a result, employers are investing heavily in initiatives to improve employee wellbeing. A recent study by the National Business Group on Health (NBGH) and Fidelity Investments found that 95% of employers plan to expand and/or maintain investment in health improvement programs and 83% will offer wellness programming to spouses/domestic partners1.
Yet, many employers come to us with the same story: 2 or 3 years ago they bought a cutting edge wellness portal and now they are looking to replace it. Why? In short, many benefits and wellness vendors are inflexible and unable to innovate with the market or drive healthy engagement.
Which got us thinking, what would it take for a benefits and wellbeing platform to be “future proof?”
1) Ability to Evolve Quickly
A future proof platform needs to be incredibly flexible and have the ability to grow with your company as the market, your population, and your benefits strategy evolve.
Over the last 10 years, we have seen the rise of hundreds, if not thousands, of tech-enabled tools and services developed to help employees improve their health and access care. From enhanced traditional offerings, to innovative new categories such as price transparency and telemedicine, these new tools span a range of categories that help employees stay healthy, access care, and improve health in new ways (Figure 1). Not only that, many of these offerings have become a mainstay almost overnight– since 2012, the percentage of large employers offering telehealth has gone from 7% to 90% in 20162. What’s the next “must-have” employee health benefit? Your platform better be able to integrate with it when it comes out!
Figure 1. The benefits ecosystem is expanding.
In addition to the market, your population will evolve over the years. A recent study by the Pew Research Center showed that Millennials have become the largest generation in the U.S labor force3. They have a distinct set of needs and expectations compared to Gen Xers and Boomers. Is your benefits vendor prepared to address these needs?
Finally, whether you just rolled out your first steps challenge, or offer a complex set of health and wellness programs and incentives, we know that you want to offer your employees the best. But building the tools, processes, and communications strategies to successfully launch these programs takes time. A future proof platform will meet you where you are today, and help you plan for the future.
2) Leverage the Power of the Digital Health Ecosystem
The expanding benefits ecosystem presents a huge opportunity, but employers cannot (and should not) expect to integrate with all solutions out there.The key is to find the right constellation of point solutions to meet the needs of your unique population, improve employee health, and lower healthcare costs. What are your healthcare cost drivers? A future proof platform vendor will help you identify best-in-class point solutions that will be a good fit for your company, based on your industry, population, geography, etc.
In order to offer your employees the best set of health and wellbeing benefits, your benefits platform must have a modular or “plug and play” technical architecture (Figure 2). Whether it is the emergence of a new solution, poor performance of an incumbent, or changing needs of your population, you should have the ability to turn on or off different point solutions.
Figure 2. Future proof platforms are modular–components can be easily swapped in and out.
Don’t be limited by any single, siloed vendor. Look for a platform with a modular architecture that allows you to configure features and functionality, while offering the best constellation of point solution vendors to meet the unique needs of your population.
3) Get Results
First, a future proof platform has to offer you real-time insights and analytics on how your programs are performing. This might seem obvious, but the static and delayed reporting offered by some vendors makes it hard for HR admins to see what’s going on in their programs. Look for a platform with a reporting tool that allows you to see things like:
- Are employees engaging?
- Are we driving behavior change and desired outcomes (health and financial)?
- Are employees happy with what you’re offering them?
Access to real-time information on program adoption, behavior, outcomes, and satisfaction, allows you to make updates to your programs and optimize outcomes to save money, improve health, and drive satisfaction.
Second, employee benefits are only valuable if employees are using them. Take a look at average participation rates in health programs for large employers based in the U.S. (Figure 3).
Figure 3. Average participation in health programs at large employers in the U.S. NBGH 20171.
After several years of lackluster participation rate, as low as 6% for weight management and 2% for telemedicine, it’s not surprising that many employers are looking for a new way to get employees engaged. Perhaps the employer benefits world could learn a thing or two about engagement from consumer technology companies like Apple, Amazon, and Facebook. To start, let’s focus on what people have come to expect: consumer-grade design, personalization, and motivating, mobile-first experiences.
Future success requires current success. A future proof platform needs to drive employee engagement today.
So, still wondering whether your current benefits platform is future proof? Here are a few questions we’ve pulled together to help:
- What are your company’s 5 year goals for employee health and wellbeing? Can your current platform deliver against those goals today, and in 5 years?
- Is your platform leveraging other best-in-class point solutions, across health and wellbeing? Can you plug in new vendors and unplug those that aren’t delivering?
- Are you getting the engagement and results you want from your current platform?
Talk to us about future proofing your wellbeing platform.
1. NBGH / Fidelity, Moving from Wellness to Wellbeing: Sixth Annual Employer-Sponsored Health and Wellbeing Survey, March 2015.
2. NBGH, Large Employers’ Health Plan Design Survey. August 2016.
3. Pew Research Center, Millennials surpass Gen Xers as the largest generation in U.S. labor force, May 2015.