Guiding workers to the tools that help them optimize their health.

Supporting employees in actively managing their healthcare is smart business, leading to a more stable and productive workforce and reduced healthcare costs.

There are a variety of of tools, both digital and traditional, that employers can leverage to guide their employees toward their healthiest selves. These 10 resources and strategies are readily available to companies interested in optimizing the health of their workforce.

1. Clear communication about health benefits

What is the cost-sharing breakdown for health insurance premiums? How does the HSA work? Are mental health benefits included in the plan? How about dental and vision? Health insurance is a generous employee benefit, but the plan details can be complex. Employers can help their employees get the most out of their plans with clear guidance on plan provisions through emails, printed posters, blog posts, and written resource guides.

2. Concierge Services

Concierge services, such as those provided by companies like Accolade, Quantum, and Evive are focused on personalized care and communication between doctor and patient, creating a simpler and more affordable path to good health. The personalized and consistent communication that these services offer can result in more timely treatments, and a healthier patient.

3. Insurance representative seminars

The administrators of a health insurance plan are best-equipped to answer health plan questions. Employers can bring their insurance company’s customer-relations staff in for work day seminars or walk-in office hours. These consultations with health insurance reps can set employees up for success in utilizing their health care benefits over time and answer pressing questions about a current situation. Reps can also offer guidance on out-of-pocket costs, claims processing, HSA strategies, and benefit allowances.

4. Patient portal training

It’s important for a company’s human resources staff, or the health network’s customer relations staff, to be knowledgeable about the way employees can access their health records, test results, billing information, and appointment-setting functions on their patient portal. Research shows that patients are looking for the convenience that comes with functional patient portals. But fewer than half of the patients with access to a patient portal are using it, according to research from athenahealth. That is a disconnect which can be filled by employers who clearly demonstrate to employees how patient portals work and how they can be useful.

5. New skills and seminars

Introduce employees during the workday to pathways to health they may not otherwise have a chance to pursue. Time spent midday learning and practicing disciplines like yoga, tai chi, and meditation not only clear the mind for a productive afternoon but also lead to long-term wellness. Nutritional guidance and healthy recipe ideas can also have lasting benefits.

6. Health monitoring apps and wearable technology

Mobile technology, from the apps we can put on our phones to the monitors we can wear on our wrists, is creating a new level of personal health awareness and management. Companies that are well-versed in this technology can help guide their employees to the right technology for them. All employees can benefit; from chronic disease sufferers to goal-oriented fitness buffs.

7. Inclusive wellness programs

Participation rates for wellness programs range from 20 to 70 percent of a company’s workforce, according to NIH research. Companies can push the upper levels of that range by making their wellness programs work for both their young and healthy employees as well as their employees managing health challenges or chronic diseases.

8. Telemedicine

Doctors’ office hours and the hours of the traditional workday usually coincide. This creates a barrier for employees seeking medical guidance or a diagnosis from their providers. Employers can facilitate patient-doctor contact without the stress of having to miss work time for midday appointments through the adoption of telemedicine. Offering a dedicated space for private video conferencing with a provider is a valuable benefit.

9. Treatment guidance

People experiencing symptoms want quick answers and often turn to internet searches as a first move. But this can be counterproductive and anxiety-inducing. Employers can provide a pathway to answers that is just as convenient and vastly more informative and valuable. Our Return to Health platform starts at the symptom level, but instead of the overwhelming and potentially spurious information that an internet search would return, it provides evidence-based treatment options with consumer and provider ratings, treatment cost comparisons, and accurate recovery time data.

10. Cost transparency tools

The cost of healthcare procedures is notoriously hard to pin down. This video from Healthsparq does a fantastic job of illustrating that. Healthsparq and Healthcare Bluebook are among the emerging technologies that improve the healthcare consumer experience by installing transparency into the pricing system and helping employees become more informed about their options.

These tools increase the value of the healthcare benefits employers already provide and help employees achieve greater levels of health. Employers who leverage them will be rewarded with a more stable and productive workforce.

Let us know what you think.

Thank you,

Max Kahn