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4 reasons your employee benefits program needs digital care guidance

August 16, 2021
Ashley Taylor Anderson

Get the most value out of your company’s health plan and benefits investments with digital care guidance.

Have you ever given someone a thoughtful present, only to have them forget it exists a month or two later? It’s not a great feeling. When you put time and energy into researching the perfect gift, it hurts to see it lying forgotten in the corner of a closet. On top of the ego bruising, it’s frustrating when someone ignores an item you know would make their life better if they just used it. 

Offering healthcare benefits to your employees isn’t the same as giving a loved one a gift, but these programs can experience similar problems. Your team invests thought and effort into selecting health plans, digital benefits, primary care offerings, and wellness programs, and then evaluating those offerings once they’ve been rolled out. But even though employees prize access to great healthcare, they’re prone to forget what’s available to them—or in the case of health insurance, they simply don’t know how to use their benefits effectively. 

No single solution will solve the problem of health benefits engagement. However, a digital care guidance platform can help you and your employees get more out of your existing healthcare investments—and improve the care experience for your plan members, too. Here are four reasons why you should consider adding digital care guidance to your benefits program.

1. Contain costs without any changes to your health plan offerings.

Healthcare comprises the biggest portion of your benefits budget, and costs continue to rise year over year. Pricewaterhouse Cooper (PwC) predicts a 6.5% increase in medical cost trend in 2022, and the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on healthcare costs could lead to even greater increases. 

While there are a variety of cost-saving strategies you can use to reduce your healthcare costs, many of them require substantial changes to your plan and supplemental offerings. The great thing about digital healthcare guidance is that your program saves money without making any big benefits changes. By identifying a virtual narrow network of high-quality, cost-efficient providers within each of your plans, as well as pointing members to relevant sponsored benefits when they search for care, your company can reduce total claims and eliminate wasteful spending on overpriced or inappropriate services.

2. Help members get great quality care while saving money.

No matter which carriers you work with, one thing remains true: Healthcare cost and quality varies drastically from provider to provider, even within the same plan network and region. 

In our team’s extensive analysis of healthcare claims, we’ve found widespread variation in healthcare costs across specialties and service types. Even for a highly standardized service like an MRI, costs can vary by hundreds of dollars within the same plan and geographic region. The more people get care from high-cost providers, the more your healthcare spending increases—and your members’ cost sharing burden.

Care quality is equally variable among providers. For example, our models show that a low-quality cardiologist—one who performs poorly across measures of safety, appropriateness, and clinical experience—is more than twice as likely to perform a repeat cardiac stent procedure than a high-quality doctor. If one of your plan members chooses the wrong surgeon, they could be at risk of major health complications and prolonged absenteeism.

With a traditional provider directory, there’s no way to tell which doctors or facilities are overpriced or low quality before you get care. A digital care guidance platform changes the game. Using advanced data analysis techniques, this technology distills cost and quality insights to help members make smarter care choices so they’re treated safely, appropriately, and expertly—all for a competitive price.

3. Improve utilization of your sponsored health benefits.

If you’re like many organizations, you’ve adopted additional health benefits programs to supplement your health insurance plans. All of these programs provide value in theory—but only if people actually use them. The problem is, with so many choices available to them, employees may not know where to go for what type of health need. Or they may simply forget what each program does and not bother using any of them, opting instead for the path of least resistance (the nearest clinic or urgent care). 

A sophisticated digital healthcare guidance platform can point members to the right benefit program at the right time. In addition to guiding users to top providers, a guidance solution can also surface relevant benefits when a user searches for related topics. That means more people find and use your benefits programs when they have a health need, which is a win for everyone. Both your company and your members save money on care, and you get more out of the programs you’ve put in place to support employee health. 

4. Provide a better healthcare experience for plan members.

Let’s be real: No one enjoys researching healthcare options or booking appointments. Healthcare is complicated, confusing, and often frustrating. Whether your employees have a routine health need that needs immediate attention, or a chronic condition that needs careful management, it’s usually not quick or easy to figure out where to get treated. And when they make decisions, they’re not always confident they’ve chosen wisely.

While digital healthcare guidance doesn’t fix everything that’s wrong with the healthcare system, it does provide a more convenient, accessible entry point for people to get care. With digital tools available 24/7, unbiased cost and quality data to inform decision-making, and a centralized place to go for healthcare information, the process of finding care becomes a little less daunting for your plan members. Some platforms even support appointment booking, which saves even more time and hassles.

Whether your team supports 1000 employees or 10,000, a digital healthcare guidance solution can help you and your beneficiaries get more out of your healthcare offerings and make smarter care decisions, without making big changes that add to your team’s administrative burden. If you haven’t yet explored this type of healthcare navigation benefit, now’s a great time to start.

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