Company Wellness: 5 Strategies for the Savvy Employer
Workplace Wellness A care system built on value for every dollar spent is an achievable goal—one that we invite employers, unions and municipalities to join us in establishing.
For decades, employers have been searching for the Rosetta Stone that provides solutions to the problems of skyrocketing health care costs, poor quality care and declining health in their workforces—especially critical since employers are the largest purchaser of health care services in the U.S.
While progress is often two steps forward and one step back, it’s not all doom and gloom. We are seeing bright spots all over the country where employers are developing innovative approaches to improve the value of their care dollar along with improving the health of their workforce.
Here are just a few of the groundbreaking strategies being implemented by employers and business coalitions on health today:
1. Value-based plan design
Employers are developing health plans with incentives and strategic use of copay reductions and health savings contributions. The goal is to encourage healthy behaviors and prevent overtreatment by steering patients away from lower value providers. And not all incentives have to be financial. For example, offering convenient, no-cost primary care can result in long term savings and improved health.
2. Transparent network prices procedures and scans
Employers are contracting with high-value providers who offer fair, fully transparent prices to their employees. These high quality centers readily participate in quality reporting efforts such as those from The Leapfrog Group. Providers can set a price that works for them while avoiding claims and collections hassles, and employees save on out-of-pocket costs by going to these providers.
3. Access to world class care
Employers are encouraging employees to seek treatment for complicated conditions at world class Centers of Excellence facilities often located outside of their market. While the initial cost for a procedure may be higher, the significantly lower complication rates and rapid recovery times make it worthwhile.
4. Coordinated care
Employers are increasingly looking to onsite and near-site health centers to offer coordinated care for their employees that can also offer secure communications between primary care and specialty care, thus reducing unnecessary in-person consultations. As a result of this improved communication, primary and specialty doctors are able to develop “treatment pacts” to avoid duplicative testing and treatments.
5. Wellness initiatives
Employers are aligning wellness and primary care to focus on employees who are well but at increased risk for common diseases, such as diabetes, by offering an intermediate level of care between ordinary wellness and conventional preventive care.
While these efforts are making a difference in their local communities, we won’t realize sweeping changes until such strategies and programs are replicated more broadly, by purchasers throughout the nation. This was the impetus for the Health Rosetta, a non-commercial open source project that provides a reference model for how purchasers of health care should procure health services. The brainchild of entrepreneur Dave Chase, this initiative offers a blueprint for realizing the full value of the money employers are spending on behalf of their employees.