Simply put: you want to make healthcare easier, more affordable and more accessible for your employees. You want that, and you want it done now.
When you’re in charge of a healthcare plan, its your responsibility to make sure that it remains affordable, and that the people on the plan can get quality healthcare (the right care) every single time. We’ve dug through the best academic articles, scrutinized journals and read countless reviews and best practices to put together a comprehensive guide for assessing healthcare platforms. If you’re in the market, you can’t afford to rely news articles and Facebook ads. You need trusted sources to help guide your decisions.
Start with this: where did our healthcare system come from? How about health insurance? It may not seem important, but consider that corporate sponsored healthcare began around World War 2, when tax incentives made it cheaper for companies to sponsor health insurance than to pay that money out in salary. The cost of this insurance quickly grew and new cost savings mechanisms began to appear. PPO’s (preferred provider organizations), HMO’s (health maintenance organizations) and insurance networks exist to save money. But the system is highly fragmented. You have one company that supplies the doctor, another handles the insurance. Your premium is paid by your employer but is administered by a third party. In essence, the common person cannot keep up with the “demands and complexity of the health care system”. Patient engagement and health literacy has become known as a “blockbuster drug” for improving healthcare (and cost) outcomes in recent years. And there are a lot of great companies working towards making our system easier to understand. However, most of the efforts at improving outcomes are directed at working with hospital and clinician networks, even large (Fortune 100) companies. There’s not a lot tailored for small to midsize corporations.
This guide will help you understand health literacy and consumer-focused healthcare platforms, and what you need to find one that’s right for your company.
Assessing Where You’re At
Defining Engagement: Before looking at how to improve engagement, it helps to start with a foundation of understanding where your employees are currently at. You might have a “thumb in the wind” understanding of how your employees manage their healthcare, but you can assume the following: In almost any business, employees commonly fall into 1 of 3 engagement demographics:
Employee Engagement At Work
- Somewhat Engaged – 45% of employees – They simply get their work done with only a few errors here and there, but they don’t go above and beyond.
- Actively Engaged – 29% of employees – These people are the promoters of your brand and often the drivers of innovation and forward movement. They are the people that you want to hang on to.
- Actively Unengaged – 26% of employees – Those that are actively unengaged will diminish your brand and your reputation with customers. They don’t like your company
but haven’t left yet. They are also a detriment to the “somewhat engaged” who may be swayed by negative encouragement.
Using these categories as a barometer, we can estimate that there is a similar demographic for how engaged they are when it comes to healthcare. Although it seems strange to compare employee performance at the office with how they use their healthcare, we must consider that employees view their healthcare as being provided by their employer. That’s why they come to the HR department with questions, not the insurance company or hospital network that they use. Statistically speaking, they also assume that the details of their health plan (how much it costs, what it covers) is the fault of their employer. That means that if you get an increase in your costs, they will assume that you’re simply charging them more.
Furthermore, we can use the corporate engagement rates above to gain a general understanding of how “engaged” your population will be when it comes to their healthcare.
“employees view their healthcare as being provided by their employer. That’s why they come to the HR department with questions, not the insurance company or hospital”
In terms of actualized “health literacy” the below figure illustrates the various levels of proficiency, and how many people fall into each category. While it may not be surprising to see that only 12% of people are “proficient”, and 53% of people are “intermediate”, the description for those categories is alarming. A person at an “intermediate” level is competent enough to read instructions on a pill bottle, but not enough to critically think about selecting a doctor. They would also be able to schedule an appointment, but not shop around for the price of that care. Now consider that a medication may be hundreds of dollars cheaper from a pharmacy next door to the one you use. Only 12% of your employees would be able to understand that information, if they’re engaged enough to look it up at all.
Health Literacy Rates – From health.gov
Understanding the motivation of “consumers” (your employees in this instance) is important in assessing their level of involvement and understanding. According to a study by Deloitte, a motivated healthcare consumer strives to:
- Take cost and Quality into consideration when choosing a healthcare provider or treatment
- Seeks quality information to learn about their health concerns or ailments
- Communicate and partner with doctors to make treatment decisions
- Works to understand their insurance and how it is impacted by their care
However, most common employees are not necessarily motivated by these factors. While statistics show that people are overwhelmingly prone to looking up information online, they don’t necessarily know where to go, or even what to look for.
Identifying Your Needs + Establishing Your Goals
With an understanding of health literacy and engagement, and how it impacts your health plan, you know that your company’s healthcare is more expensive (and less effective) than you want it to be. But understanding the problem isn’t enough, and you need to have an outline of your specific strengths, weaknesses and issues in order to create an actionable plan.
Understand your workplace culture – Are you a manufacturing firm or do you provide a business service? Your industry will have an impact on the behavior of the employees and their spending habits. While you may think that you have a comprehensive understanding of your employees behavior, it is important to complete your due diligence as your findings may surprise you. For example, manufacturing firms maintain high success rates in cost reduction from implementing a comprehensive healthcare platform. While HR is accustomed to working with employees first hand, it is commonly assumed that more “blue collar” roles are adverse to adopting new practices, especially when it comes to healthcare and technology. However, this population is highly price sensitive and looks for outside guidance during the decision making process. Speak to a few of your employees (try to find a cross section of individuals that represent your population) and ask them about their healthcare habits. Do they look for other’s opinions when buying healthcare? Do they price shop for medication? Who manages the healthcare expenses in their household? Make sure to be clear that this is regarding healthcare and not health practices (whether or not they workout or not is a very separate conversation). Try to put together a list of what they want out of their healthcare experiences, and if they prioritize cost reduction, quality or convenience. You can also ask your employees if they know things like your deductible and how far into their deductible they are. If they are able to provide a very detailed answer, you know that they are probably doing their homework. Don’t be surprised if you get some questions like “what’s a deductible?”.
Look at your current benefits package – The first step to assessing your actual health plan is to grab your SPD (summary plan description) and see exactly what the fine print says. You want to pull out the details and see what the terms of your plan are. From here you can see exactly how conducive it is to your population.
Things to find:
- Your deductible – are you on a low or high deductible plan? If you’re on a high deductible plan you should be providing enough resources to allow plan members to take a “consumerist” approach and shop on price and quality.
- Out of pocke Maximum – How high is the maximum? If the out of pocket max is high, people will need to be able to afford to reach it in the event of a chronic or serious illness. Employees should be able to keep well below the limit, but this requires skill on their part.
- Network access – How vast is their network access? Make sure you know the general parameters so that you can help employees choose doctors that are in their network.
- Do you have a savings account (HSA/HRA/Flex)? – If you have access to a savings account, employees should be educated enough to know (a) how much to fund, and (b) how to use it.
- Coinsurance per clinician visit – Are employees responsible for an upfront cost? This may factor into their decisions so be sure to have this information on hand.
Assessing Your Goals
Once you’ve found this information, you can start to dig deeper to begin assessing your actual needs. You can see how your company stacks up in relation to other companies to see exactly where your popultion needs the most work.
- How high is your deductible? – As mentioned above, a high deductible plan is designed to increase “consumerism”. However, employees need help making decisions as most of the cost isn’t actually seen from their perspective.
- How many employees went out of network last year? This is one indicator of how educated and “healthcare savvy” your population is. If 5% or more of the claims incurred are from out of network providers, you’ve got a significant problem. Care from these providers is likely many, many, times more expensive than it has to be. Networks were designed to reduce the overall costs, and going outside of them has serious repercussions.
- What percentage of plan members hit their deductible? – Another spending habit indicator. Broadly speaking, if people are hitting their deductible, they are probably spending too much on average. Normal human behavior is to take advantage of something when it’s free. So if they’ve hit their deductible (and they essentially have unlimited access to care) they will probably spend as much as possible. On average, most people shouldn’t hit the deductible.
- How did you communicate benefits information? – As insurance goes further and further towards high deductible, consumerist models, people need to be prepared to “shop” for their care. Without guidance and tools, they won’t successfully manage and will spend without consequence. If you are only passing out their plan information during renwall, you’re missing a big opportunity to educate. This is a quick win for some very low hanging fruit.
- What percentage of HR’s time was spent answering benefits questions? One of the most important roles of HR is to be the middle person between an employee and their healthcare. People rely on this relationship and need it to be successful. If more than 15% of HR’s time is spent on answering questions, guiding employees and administering benefits, it’s too much. Effective communication will foster and encourage fewer but more impactful questions. Employees should be expected to understand a certain amount of healthcare information before using it.
- How many people have gone to the ER – This is one of the easiest and simplest indicators of employee health literacy. Simply put, an emergency room is really only meant for emergencies. For most instanaces, it’s not the appropriate place to seek care except when absolutely necessary. For this reason, its VERY expensive. it is often the wrong “level” of care for people to be seeking and can have a seriously negative impact on a health plan.
Developing a Budget
If you want to develop a budget, check out our pre-built budget spreadsheet. This should give you an understanding of how much money you’ll need to spend, and…
Before considering a platform, you have to understand what kind of functionality you need. Based off the information listed above (particularly “Assessing Your Goals”) of your goals and how to meet them. Below is a list of functional items that are most commonly found in benefits and engagement software services. It’s important to note that you are going to run into a variety of services that will run the gamut of pricing. And because healthcare programs are often developed with a specific buyer (or network, or insurance provider) in mind, pricing might not be consistent. This means that two programs with similar functionality might have very different price points, due to the customer base and requirements within their market. Therefore, it’s important that you understand what your population requires to be successful.
To assist your search, here are some of the most important elements that are contained in a common platform, and a description of how the features can help, and who they are most helpful for:
- Benefits information – This is perhaps the most common starting point with a health literacy and benefits platform. There is no getting around working with your insurance. Simply put, everybody needs to know how to get care within their provider’s guidelines. If you don’t understand how to get care in your network and track your deductible, then you will certainly not be successful in running an effective insurance plan. This should be one of your top priorities when looking into a program. However, it is only a foundational item, and should be considered as such.
- Communications – As with any product in the digital age, engagement is driven by the user experience and communicability of the program. There has been a distinct lack of successful communications in the healthcare industry in relation to other mature fields. Studies show that healthcare consumers seek healthcare information from a combination of websites and social media platforms to inform decisions. It’s important to review the communications strategies to see if they’ll work for your company.
- Health Literacy – A widely covered topic (particularly on this site) is the efficiency of health literacy in improving healthcare. Platforms that seek to aid the “literacy” or “activation” of patients should be considered as it serves as the foundation for most consumerist strategies. Health literacy is widely acknowledged as the future of healthcare initiatives and is continuing to grow in prominence.
- Someone to call – Simply put, some firms offer a call center to assist in navigating healthcare issues. Most insurance providers offer a form of this service, so it may be beneficial to speak with them, or even do a trial run with your provider, to see how it functions. From there you can either add it to your list, or leave it off if you feel satisfied.
- Onsite specialist – In addition to providing a technological platform, some firms will visit with the company (presuming that the firm has an onsite location) to answer questions and improve awareness of the platform. This may be a costly option, but one that you may consider important for early adoption.
- Online benefits enrolment – There are numerous ways of “enrolling” in your benefits. Some firms offer an enrolment portal that you can use to simply login and sign up for relevant benefits.
- Wellness – Numerous studies have found that workplace wellness platforms and initiatives are tough to prove in terms of ROI. However, some industries may benefit from the combination of onsite wellness activities and healthcare-centered education.
- Interactive Platform – As previously mentioned, consumer facing healthcare applications have been slow to catch on, instead technological advance happens at the hospital and provider level. However, a consumer-friendly platform helps to improve the user experience and understanding of healthcare at large. As the patient’s involvement is typically one of the weakest links in the care chain, interactive web applications help to personalize and improve the user experience.
With these items considered, make a list of 3 categories including: “Must Haves”, “Desired” and “Not Important”. You’ll find that this will help you maintain perspective when looking at options. Without prioritization of goals, you may end up spending 2 to 3 times the necessary amount because of unnecessary services. As a product differentiator, firms will add unproven features that don’t add value to your bottom line.
Embracing The Platform
One of the biggest perceived road blocks: will people actually use the program? The short answer is that there are multiple factors involved in getting people to change their behavior when it comes to healthcare. Although this is true with any sort of corporate behavior change initiative, healthcare is especially susceptible because of 2 things:
- Nobody really knows what they’re doing – Unless you keep your plan information on you at all times, and actually bother to read the 60-page document, chances are that you don’t always know what your plan says. What doctor can you see? What is included in your network? For the vast majority of people, the current strategy is “shoot from the hip and hope for the best”.
- People are very entrenched in their ways – Whatever people do to get care, they’ll probably just keep doing it because it worked last time. If someone bothered to call their carrier and ask for a recommendation on a GP in the area, chances are they’ll do it again because now they are comfortable with that feature. The hard part is getting people to do it for the first time.
There are a few methods for ensuring that you can get people to use it, and it’s mostly rooted in behavioral change and engagement theories. When we look at the foundations of managing change, we can look at some of the earliest models, chiefly, Kurt Lewin’s model of change management (academic explanation, layman’s explanation) to understand the implementation of lasting change.
In short, the process consists of 3 phases
- Unfreezing Behavior – Disconnect people from their previous habits. Make sure that the platform in question provides the necessary steps to inform employees about the problem they’re facing (their current care is too expensive, quality is a concern), and that there is a solution. This needs to be driven home and implemented for a period of time. No change will happen without this step. The platform should come with materials that you can use to promote the new product: fliers, emails, talking points that you can use. All of these are good, and only you will know what works best with your population.
- Introduce Change – Start by showing them the options. Show them their new platform, make sure that they know how to log on to the appropriate sites and where to go. The platform should be intuitive and make using the product easy. People may resist at first (as with all change) but they need to see HR or other influencers using it. Show them a webinar on how they access information through the platform.
- Re-Freeze Behavior – Once people have started using the platform it should be continuously promoted. If employees have questions, tell them to look at the platform first. Solidify that the program is the first line of defense and should be used before coming to HR. Re-freezing behavior is an important step in making sure that people stick with any program, habit or tendency. The platform that you’re looking at should have a way of reinforcing the changes that they’ve made.
It’s clear that there are 3 core behavioral stages that an individual will go through. While every platform or company will not base their strategies off the same exact theories, you can use this model as an outline to assess the credibility of their program. Are they engaging the employees at the beginning and making them aware of the program and why it’s there? Are they giving company leadership the tools that they need to implement the platform? It’s not your job to know how to promote a program. You need to let them do the research and tell you exactly how to work it into your corporate culture.
To ensure successful implementation, the platform needs to pay special attention to “unfreezing behavior” and “introducing change”. This means that HR should have access to training or implementation steps for a period of time. This might come in the form of a helpline, a series of videos or even guides (preferably a combination or a multi-media mix). Revisiting Kurt Lewin’s model of change management from the last section, we know that employees are going to need support and reassurance to break their current pattern of behavior.
Core Components of Adoption
- The On-boarding Process – What is the on-boarding process like? Your platform should offer an “on-boarding” period where you can ask questions, become educated on using the platform and set an actionable plan for engaging people. Don’t expect that you can purchase a software and that everybody will start using it. Adoption takes time, and with it, behavioral change.
- Establishing a driver – Any new technology, software or program will have a percentage of people that will be open to using it. Most often, we can refer to these people as “early adopters”. They are the ones that are willing to truly use and implement new products. According to Rogers (the creator of the adoption model), you will have a very small group of people that will purchase or create the technology (innovators), then a slightly larger group that will start to use it (early adopters). In this case, the HR and leadership will be the innovators, and you’ll have about 10-15% of your employee population that will be quick to start using the products. Now this is the important part: the majority of your employees will start to use the platform once they see the early adopters using it. Early adopters traditionally have the trust of the rest of the group and are your best option for “promoting” the new strategy.
- Employee involvement – One of the most critical components to effective change is the involvement of employees. Almost all of the prevailing transformational business theories (see Total Quality Management, Applied Creativity) require “buy-in” from employees, and consistent reinforcement of your overall strategy. Simply put: you must keep telling them about your strategy and how they fit into it. It’s simply not enough to give them a new initiative and expect that they will implement it successfully. By maintaining a successful communications platform (again, this should be a multimedia mix of posters, emails and reinforcement from HR) you can keep them involved in the strategy and have an impact on their day to day behaviors.
One of the most challenging and important questions to answer is about pricing. You already know that a lot of time and money is spent (often ineffectively) on your healthcare platform. It makes sense to put in mechanisms to control the costs, but it isn’t always clear if you’re going to see any measurable or financial value. That isn’t to say that a product is only as good as its ROI, but to say that it isn’t an important factor is simply untrue.
Items that cannot be tracked
- Medical Non-Events – Characterized as a procedure that didn’t take place or treatment that wasn’t pursued due to an incorrect diagnosis – this is undoubtedly the largest source of revenue saved. A single course of treatment can cost thousands upon thousands and would have been money completely wasted. While this is a huge cost, it cannot be tracked because it is caused by “proper decision making” that occurs because the patient is more engaged and educated because of the platform.
- Behavior Change – What happens when people start to price shop before filling their prescription? Changing long-solidified behaviors has a serious upside, but you can’t necessarily track its true impact. However, a group of people critically thinking about their next steps can be seriously invaluable.
- Improved Decisions – Like it or not, the patient has a role to play when getting medical care. The doctor doesn’t just prescribe before jointly making decisions with the patient. Knowing how to get all the facts to make an informed decision is one of the largest cost-saving mechanisms available. However, just like a non-event, you can’t really track it.
- Medical Engagement – How many people know how much they have to spend before they hit their deductible? Do you think your employees would know how to find a different doctor or specialist? What would the impact be if they did? You can’t necessarily measure it, but you can count on a lot less doctor visits and wasted care if they did.
Items that can be tracked
While you can’t measure every facet or benefit of improving employee’s healthcare, you can track some items that can give you insight into their spending habits, and if they’re changing or not.
- People that use convenience care – We know that convenience care (think telehealth or retail-based clinic) is significantly cheaper and just as effective for most conditions. If people start going to these kinds of clinics, you know A) that people are more price conscious, and B) that they’re looking up their options. Healthcare platforms are designed to guide you to the right places and this is a very good sign.
- Utilization of the website – This can be a major folly – A lot of firms want people to constantly be using the website or portal. But this isn’t necessarily important. You don’t always need people logging in when they’re not using healthcare. The important part is this, are people using the website at the right times? Are they accessing the tools? If they are accessing the important stuff, then you can bet that they’re changing their habits. You won’t get a solid number from this, but you’ll know if its helping or not.
- Number of deductibles hit – When people hit the deductible, their motivation to look at costs plummets. You’ll know if people are giving more thought to how they spend, they’re far less likely to hit the deductible. This means that plan costs will gradually decrease, and that efficiency is improving.
- Engagement with the platform – Conduct surveys, ask your managers and see what the consensus is. Are people using the platform? Do they look at it when going to the doctor? Though it is ultimately up to each company (no matter how much engagement they claim to get) to change behavior, you’ll know if people are finding it useful.
- Health account spending – If you have an HSA, HRA or Flex account, you’ll have an idea of whether people are contributing to it or using it. How are they using it in comparison to the previous year? You should see a reduction in money spent (if you have access to that information) and an increase in funding for things like HSAs.
How long will it take you to see a return on your investment?
Before committing to an investment, you should have a general idea of how long it’s going to be until your investment pays off. Most firms find that despite being significantly smaller than their health insurance costs, any additional expense can be quite painful. However, as the adage goes “you have to spend money to make money” and the same holds true for healthcare platforms.
Your time to return on your investment is highly varied, due to several factors:
- Your population – it goes without saying that some groups of people are more likely to change than others. Some groups are more educated than others regarding healthcare and may latch on to a new tool more easily. Other groups are desperate for answers, and don’t necessarily trust the HR department with their personal information.
- How successful the platform is at enacting behavior change – As you can see above, a lot of healthcare initiatives should be more about “behavior change” than they are about “utilization”. Healthcare habits are extremely solidified and simply putting in a platform or a new benefit isn’t enough. If you can get the behavior of your employees
- How much time you invest in behavior change – This is entirely up to you. You can be sure that without putting in any time you won’t see any change. This is a widely accepted finding and you’ll have to find ways to engage a small part of the population before getting the larger majority involved. Find a solution that can outline exactly how much time you’ll need to spend, and you’ll be able to make an educated decision.
- How receptive your employees are to change and technology – This isn’t necessarily an easy question to answer as your firm may be more reluctant or receptive than you’d think. Think about past initiatives that you’ve implemented. Have they been successful, or did they take longer than expected to enact? Try to consider technologies or new processes as an example as they will be similar in nature to adopting a new platform.
Is the cost justifiable?
The ever-important question: How can you justify this cost? You’ll have to make sure that there are enough trackable and deliverable results to satisfy your requirements. Your real savings will come in the form of things that can’t be tracked, but you should justify the cost by using the things that you can track.
Looking at the examples above (items that can be tracked), consider basing your decision off possible corporate healthcare initiatives. For example, you can establish benchmarks based on the amount of people that stay below their deductible or use convenience care (like a minute clinic or telehealth). These are both serious cost saving mechanisms and will directly impact your bottom line.
It’s important to note that the non-events mentioned above are some of the most serious cost saving situations. But you won’t know about every time that a person chooses to get a second opinion and avoids a costly surgery or procedure. Because of this, you must ensure that a) you’re comfortable with the trackable results, and b) that you’re happy with the approach to pursuing the non-trackable costs.
Finding Your Fit
Before doing a deep dive with any one platform you want to know if it’s a good fit for your company and if your employees are going to use it. While there’s no short answer to that question, you can do some legwork to make sure that you’re making a seriously educated decision.
Consider the platform’s past experiences with firms of similar industries. While healthcare is a universal challenge for companies of all types, there are unique idiosyncrasies for each industry. Take, for example, a manufacturing firm. Most employees won’t have computer access around the clock. They may rely more heavily on print materials and in-person recommendations for selecting a doctor. In contrast, a technology firm will likely be more research-focused and less likely to share information about their care with coworkers.
- Industry – Ask for examples of other clients that they have in your industry or an industry like yours. You should try to identify what that company’s experience was like and, more specifically, what kinds of initiatives or challenges they had. Try to find out how they’ve addressed issues like the ones that you feel like your company is facing right now.
- Size – While it may seem unimportant, you’ll want to understand how they work with companies around your size. Most healthcare tech platforms are developed with large populations in mind (think the clients of a healthcare broker or a medical provider network). While it’s possible to adapt these platforms for smaller scale use (individual company under 1500 people), its often not ideal. You want to find a platform that understands the needs of a company of your size and capabilities. A 5-person team is going to have significantly different needs than a company of 6,000.
- Budget – Just because a platform or service is within your budget doesn’t necessarily mean that the service offering you need is. Make sure that the platform can provide you with the proper capability at your price point, not just if you purchase up to the next level. This is an important part of the decision-making process and should help you understand where the real capabilities are.
Using the platform – How easy is it to use?
This isn’t necessarily a straight forward question. Each platform is going to have a slight learning curve, but you want to make sure that largescale adoption won’t be too challenging.
The number one concern that you should have in this category is the audience that the product was created for and making sure that it matches up with your population. If the platform was designed to be used by large corporations or by a small team of healthcare professionals, they clearly have a different audience in mind. Furthermore, some of these products may be targeting the patients of provider networks. This is also a distinctly different population that won’t necessarily translate to your needs. While these kinds of platforms can be adopted, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be the best fit for a small to midsize firm with a corporate health plan.
Will people use the platform?
If we look back at section 2 (the part about embracing the platform), we can understand that there are serious challenges to getting people to change their behavior when it comes to healthcare. Even though we’re the most informed consumers that the world has ever seen (we google almost everything), our knowledge of navigating the healthcare world is shockingly low. Simply put, people aren’t used to making informed healthcare decisions, and the biggest step here is getting people to change that behavior.
Things to look out for:
- Is there a solid plan in place for getting people to use the platform? – If you purchase a platform and tell people to use it, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Most people don’t know why they should care more about using healthcare, so chances are they’re not simply going to quickly adopt it. Look back at section 2 for more information on this.
- What percentage of clients typically engage with the platform? – As with anything, past performance is a key indicator. Seeing a return on your investment might not actually require a high adoption rate. Massive savings can bee seen with only single digit adoption, if that adoption is meaningful. Look for examples of real engagement, and not just figures on large scale engagement.
What doses utilization look like? You want people to use it, but you need people to use it effectively. It would be great if every employee learned everything about the healthcare system, but that’s not going to happen. And even if it did, would it really help? Your initiatives in getting people to use the platform should be focused around a few critical times, such as prior to going to the doctor or purchasing a medication. Those are the times that (if they use it) you’ll see massive savings. However, it’s tough to see savings from utilization during non-critical points, like logging on to preemptively read about seeing the doctor. However, you will want to see regular logins to maintain awareness.
After-Sale Support – What You Should Expect
If you don’t read a most of this article, read this. While there are a multitude of healthcare platforms available in every area, the most common way that they differ is in their ongoing support, and in their approach to utilization. While you should find a style of support that suits your needs, you must be cognisant of the fact that there are up sides and downsides to every approach. Let’s take a closer look.
- The hands-off approach – You purchase a system and have no further communications with the company.
- Pros – Often the cheapest option, you have flexibility in how you implement it, and you likely won’t have to put a lot of work in.
- Cons – Simply put, it probably won’t make a large impact. You won’t necessarily know how to engage your employees with it platform and you will have to work hard to see minimal gains.
- The Guided Approach – You purchase a platform and a consultant helps you engage your people.
- Pros – You have a significant amount of help in implementing the product, usually very cost effective, you maintain control over what goes out, you can change behaviors at your own pace.
- Cons – You have to manage part of the workload, some employees may not be as receptive to working directly with staff, you must be able to print posters and handouts and distribute them (could be hard for firms with multiple locations).
- The Onsite Approach – Someone comes onsite to help initiate the adoption process.
- Pros – You have a robust and actionable plan implemented by a professional, typically maximizes the engagement process and achieves the highest adoption, internal employees have less work.
- Cons – More expensive than the other options, you have some control (but not all) over what the process looks like, the process can be fairly invasive, employees must accept the new consultant.
- The Custom Onsite Hands On Approach – Similar to the “onsite approach”, this involves a deep dive into a custom plan for your organization. This is a very heavy duty approach that aims for extreme engagement and works extremely closely with your corporate culture. These services are usually available via an external consultant made available by the platform.
- Pros – You can achieve maximum engagement, a further developed understanding of your corporate culture, have the potential to insert other corporate initiatives into this process.
- Cons – Very minimal control, the level of engagement is not always necessary, hard to justify ROI, very costly
Healthcare is a challenging field, and there are a lot of moving parts to tackle. We’ve outlined a few of our key points that you can look at, and a checklist that you can use to ask questions during your demo. This list is not comprehensive but can get you well on your way to properly assessing a platform.
Key Points to consider
- Understand your corporate culture and your needs – look at your current insurance plan and see where the gaps are, where can you identify possible areas for improvement?
- Try to find a target that you can hit, perhaps increasing utilization of telehealth or convenience care. You can find a platform that works well with goals like these.
- Consider the functionality that you’ll be looking for. Would it make you more comfortable to have someone that can come onsite, or even a number to call? Consider how this would be adopted by your population.
- Within your budget, try to make a prioritized list. See how many of those items you can get at the lowest point in your budget and go up from there. Consider how much functionality you really need to help achieve those goals.
- Regarding getting employees to use the platform, how does the platform address utilization?
- Look for a platform that works with firms of a similar size and industry to yours. Try to understand the corporate culture that they are used to operating with.
Questions to ask during a demo
- What kinds of companies do you work with?
- What are some examples of success that you’ve experienced with companies like ours?
- Given your current goals in mind (i.e. helping reduce the number of employees hitting their deductible), how can those specific initiatives be targeted?
- What are some alternate options for meeting our goals?
- What does utilization normally look like?
- Regarding ROI, what factors are trackable and how can we monitor them?
- How long can it take to see ROI?
- How do you help identify our needs?
- What does success look like for a typical user, not just those with huge claims?
- What kinds of people are a good fit for using a platform such as this?