MedCity Influencers

Health IT and You: The Perfect Prescription

Whether you’re a large company or a small business, there’s one thing that’s critical to the success of your organization: Healthy, productive employees Regardless of your views on the Affordable Care Act, it can be argued that the core focus of President Obama’s fight for healthcare reform focuses on accountable care organizations, or ACOs, that engage […]

Whether you’re a large company or a small business, there’s one thing that’s critical to the success of your organization:

Healthy, productive employees

Regardless of your views on the Affordable Care Act, it can be argued that the core focus of President Obama’s fight for healthcare reform focuses on accountable care organizations, or ACOs, that engage patients more actively as consumers and focus on improving medical outcomes as well as overall quality of care.

Simply put: more provider accountability should translate to lower costs and better care.

The State of Health Insurance in 2014

After speaking with business owners from small, medium and enterprise-size companies up-and-down the west coast, I saw two trends in the world of health benefits:

  • Company Sponsored Coverage: Some companies will continue to offer health benefits and are actually increasing the amount of health coverage they will provide for employees. This increase sometimes translates to cover 100% of preventive medical expenses across general practice, vision and dental. In fact, one company I spoke with even covers 100% of cosmetic medical costs, such as orthodontics.
  • Marketplace Coverage: Other companies are choosing to subsidize the costs of employees purchasing their own health insurance by offering cash bonuses. This gives the employee the choice of what health coverage he / she wants and needs while still providing support to be a healthy individual.

How Do You Plan to Keep Your Employees Healthy?

Regardless of whether you plan to sponsor health coverage or send your employees into the health exchange marketplace, Health IT infrastructure provides options to keep your employees healthy and productive.

Here are four great pieces of advice when implementing Health IT infrastructure at your company:

Tip #1: Implement a Wellness Plan

This plan should clearly outline the objective of the wellness plan, options offered to employees to promote a healthy lifestyle, tangible goals to achieve as well as transparent rewards for hitting these goals.

A 2010 study saw a 25% reduction in workplace absences due to illness as the result of implementing a wellness plan. Keep in mind, you’ll want to encourage employees to participate by outlining the benefits in a fun, reward-driven way. Consider a campaign like Zweena Health’s Journey to 50,000 Pages or the City of Dallas’ wellness program as good examples.

Tip #2: Access to Health Data

A recent Pew Research study found that 21% of Americans are already using some form of technology to track their health.

Encourage your employees to access the health information available to them; this data is the lifeblood of a productive health IT infrastructure.

Tip #3: Tools of the Trade

Arm your employees with tools to not only access their health data but analyze and chart trends, such as a personal health record or wearable technology like a Nike+ FuelBand or Fitbit to chart daily exercise trends.

Tip #4: Process, Process and More Process

We can’t say it enough; an effective Health IT infrastructure should be filled with process. You want to build a scalable experience and rely on infrastructure to do the day-to-day heavy lifting as opposed to a throwing man-hours at making the program successful.

Safeway: An Example of Great Health IT Infrastructure

Health infrastructure helps power positive outcomes at your company; it’s all about establishing a scalable, feedback-driven set of processes to encourage your employees to make healthier decisions.

Safeway is well known for their Healthy Measures wellness program that evaluates tobacco use, weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. If an employee passes these tests with a certain score or better, their annual healthcare premiums can be reduced by up to $780 for individual policyholders and $1,560 for families, as described in a recent LA Times article.

So What’s Your Plan?

Let us know your plan to keep your employees healthy and productive in 2014 in the comments section below.

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