Five Strategies for Employers to Impact Healthcare Experience, Engagement, and Cost

Many employers believe they not only have a responsibility to do more when it comes to the health of their populations, the cost of care, and access to quality healthcare services, but also the ability to make an impact. These organizations can improve the employee experience and drive engagement to create healthier workforces.

Premise Health recently hosted a virtual webinar series that brought together employers across industries – from manufacturing to financial services and healthcare to entertainment – to hear from their peers and industry leaders on strategies they can implement to impact experience, engagement, cost, and outcomes. Read on for the top strategies to create healthier organizations.

Build an experience your team members want.

Healthcare only works if people use it. For employers, ensuring your healthcare offerings and benefits strategy aligns with your population is critical. By having alignment between what’s offered and team member preference, you’re more likely to see higher utilization and healthier outcomes. It’s extremely important to listen to what your employees are asking for and build an experience that delivers on it.

For your population, convenient access to healthcare services may be most important, so you choose an onsite health center and offer care navigation support to help team members better utilize what’s offered. If you have a younger population that values technology, you may offer virtual care to complement your onsite health center and promote the patient portal for convenient online scheduling and communicating with providers. Each population is unique, and it’s important to understand what they value the most when it comes to healthcare.

Utilize a variety of engagement strategies.

Engaging members can be challenging, and it requires a unique approach for your population. The engagement strategies that work for a white-collar business in a high rise building likely won’t be successful for blue-collar factory workers operating in shifts. Take a tailored approach to create the best engagement strategy for your organization.

For teams in an office setting, digital screens throughout the building with information on available healthcare offerings can help drive awareness. Lunch and learns about your services and desk drops are two other channels to disseminate information. For shift workers, consider verbal announcements at the start of a shift or placing informational handouts in break rooms.

However, written and verbal communications aren’t the only way to get your message across. Hosting events is a unique way to attract and engage members. A grand opening event for a new onsite or nearsite health center can help with engagement from the start and generate necessary foot traffic. To promote ongoing engagement, host regular open houses, health fairs, or even biometric screening events throughout the year.

Remember who is in charge and take control.

As costs continue to rise, employers have the power to demand change. This is especially true for rising prescription drugs costs. To help find ways to reduce drug costs, organizations have enlisted the help of pharmacy benefit managers (PBM) to negotiate rebates with drug manufacturers and discounts from drugstores. PBMs play a huge role in the pharmacy supply chain, but too often organizations outsource their pharmacy benefits approach to a PBM without asking enough questions.

Don’t forget PBMs are there to take care of your people, so take charge if you want updates to your contracts. In the pharmacy supply chain, PBMs and drug manufacturers are oftentimes incentivized to put higher cost drugs on formularies, which contributes to soaring prices. There are typically comparable alternatives available for a much lower cost. There’s no disruption without disruption, so don’t be afraid to make changes within your organization.

Drug costs continue to skyrocket, and your people can’t stay healthy and productive if they’re unable to afford the medications they need. At the end of the day, you’re paying the bill, so finding a balance with your PBM and making changes can make a big difference on your overall spend and lead to healthier employees. If you don’t know where to start, Premise Health’s pharmacy team can help you steer these conversations.

Be aware that cost and quality don't always align.

Specialty care needs outside of the primary care setting are inevitable and frequently come with large price tags. The challenge is the price for the same procedure can vary drastically within the same area, leaving employees with large bills that could have been avoided.

The facility, not the physician, drives the variability in price, which makes your referral decision strategy critically important. To ensure your employees are getting the highest value care, utilize data to match high-quality facilities with high-quality providers at the fairest price. Remember: Cost and quality don’t always align in the market, so being aware of this issue and utilizing data to make informed decisions will help rein in costs and drive better outcomes.

Take proactive steps to manage the demand for care.

With hospitals resuming elective and non-emergency procedures after delays from COVID-19, the demand for care is going to be immense. Employers can help manage the cost curve created by increased demand and ensure employees receive high-value care by taking these four steps:

  1. Make it easy for employees to access cost and quality data. When your employees have this information at their fingertips, they’ll feel empowered to take charge of their healthcare experience.
  2. Communication is important, so ensure you’re doing it clearly, frequently, and consistently regarding the options available to your team members.
  3. Enable better referrals at the point of care by making sure your providers are aligned with choosing the highest-value facility and physician.
  4. As clinical complexity increases, so does the burden on your people. By providing support and information, they’ll feel empowered to make the best decisions.

Employers foot the bill for half of the population — nearly 160 million Americans — putting them in a position play a significant role when it comes to addressing cost, experience, and engagement. Now more than ever, we expect organizations to take an increasingly proactive approach to their healthcare and benefits design to drive better outcomes that results in healthier populations.

Are you in charge of employee health at your organization? Get in touch – we’re here to answer your questions and help you create the best healthcare experience for your population.

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