How Companies Are Reimagining Health Benefits for 2021

By Bill Gianoukos, CEO and Cofounder of Goodpath

“Tech neck”, “doomscrolling”, “covid-fatigue.” The pandemic has made these catch-phrases a reality that can take a real toll on the mind and body. The definition of one’s health, now more than ever, includes mental health. Addressing chronic conditions is complicated by the effects of social isolation, inertia, and lack of direct access to services. As CEO of a digital healthcare company, I am asked about these issues every day, not just for employees but also for employers who want to offer more. 

Healthcare coverage often defines job satisfaction and, for some, is the main reason for staying employed in a company. Specifically, 50% of American employees cite quality healthcare coverage as the main reason for staying at a job. Consequently, employers aim to offer healthcare that is high quality but at a reasonable cost. On the other hand, employees are now seeking more than basic coverage - they ask for healthcare solutions that are effective, digital, and can address the increased complexity of their conditions.

Doing more than wellness with integrative health.

Sophisticated employers aim to offer more comprehensive health and wellness programs for their employees. This trend is supported by a recent Goodpath Employer Health Index survey, where over 80% of employers prioritized the importance of comprehensive wellness programs to their benefits portfolio. 

Delivering comprehensive wellness cannot be achieved by adding piece-meal activities like an on-site yoga studio or a free subscription to a meditation app. Employees have the arduous task of patching together different treatment plans on their own. It also assumes that employees are self-motivated and can overcome the pandemic fatigue of replacing live resources with online ones.

Integrative care is the new tool employers can now offer to their workforce. Integrative care can make healthcare more effective for employees and cheaper for employers. It works because it combines conventional with complementary treatments for a holistic approach. In other words, it combines the most effective treatments of conventional care with proven treatments for mind-body connections, exercise, and nutrition. Interestingly, 85% of millennials have reported they prefer an integrative approach to their health.

Integrative healthcare treats the whole person and not just symptoms of one condition. Because it combines multiple treatment approaches, as opposed to a single modality of care, it makes treatment personalized. It is also able to simultaneously address mental health factors that can worsen common health conditions. A Goodpath Employer Health Index study confirmed that the vast majority (almost 80%) of employees with insomnia also experience anxiety and depression symptoms. After following an integrative sleep treatment program (which also addressed mental health), these members confirmed a reduction in sleep aid medications and improved sleep efficiency.

Employers and employees love the new approach.

Why should integrative care be the new normal? Simply put, it is more effective than conventional health or wellness alone. Multiple clinical studies have shown significant improvement in individuals’ health outcomes and a massive reduction in employers’ healthcare costs. Specifically:

Successful integrative solutions are also digital/physical hybrids, allowing access anywhere, including an employee’s home. In fact, a survey showed that 83% of people prefer to continue telehealth even after the pandemic recedes. The digital healthcare model aligns with the new work-from-home-and-office model. Online integrative care will become the new norm and will lead to smooth program adoption.

At Goodpath, we offer integrative care directly to employees. We provide treatment plans personalized to each person’s unique and complex condition. With every employer Goodpath onboarded in 2020, we consistently received feedback from benefits managers that, compared to other solutions, our programs are adopted much quicker by their employees.

These programs also support broader company cultures of engagement. Perks are only as useful as their adoption rate by employees. When health programs and perks can be personalized and are not one-size-fits-all approaches to wellness solutions, overall employee engagement goes up. Technology also plays a role. When healthcare is available with the touch of a button, employees adopt it faster.

Wellness pays dividends. Literally

Integrative care allows companies to see dividends from having healthcare-satisfied employees. A recent Deloitte report showed that companies with high health and wellness scores had a 75% greater stock appreciation over six years than the overall S&P.

Employers looking to revamp their wellness offerings need to approach this process holistically. They need to offer benefits programs that can address a majority of their population’s needs, are easy and engaging for employees, and are more than a digital version of conventional care.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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