An Employer’s Guide To Digital Healthcare

USA, New Jersey, Jersey City, Close up view of stetoscope on digital tablet


Think about your company’s healthcare journey to this point. Did a bunch of negative experiences just fly through your head? Sick employees missing work. Deadlines not getting met. Dealing with increases in insurance premiums due to the cost of care for employees with chronic conditions.

The problem is that the current healthcare ecosystem is not designed around your company, and it definitely is not designed around your employees. All of that, however, began to change in 2020 when the healthcare industry was turned on its head by a global pandemic. Lockdowns kept patients from their appointments, forcing providers to adapt to digital health technologies.

Over the past few months, I have written two articles about digital healthcare: a high-level introduction to the digital health ecosystem and a deep dive into the technologies powering the revolution. Today, I want to lay out how you, as an employer, can leverage digital healthcare right now to make healthcare more customizable, more accessible and more affordable for your employees. The healthcare revolution is now. Your organization should be a part of it.

Customizability Of Care

Digital health data can empower your workplace to encourage wellness among employees. Health analytics platforms, like those offered by Limeade, allow you, as an employer, to encourage healthy habits. Think about life right after a doctor's appointment. Your health habits are top of mind. These apps encourage the same, for instance, by reminding an employee to drink a glass of water every day when they wake up.

Focus on employee health among employers is growing. Platforms, like Calm, are making it easier for business owners to offer health services to their employees. The Business Group on Health, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit, surveyed employers in 2021 and found that 88% planned on providing health services, such as online mental health resources. That’s an increase from 69% the year before. If you would like to participate in programs like these for your employees, refer to learning materials on the matter. Investments in employee health tend to have positive ROI for the business.

Personal health data is just one factor in customizing the health solutions you and your employees can receive. 24/7 health services, often run by care coordinators, encourage smaller, more frequent touchpoints in the healthcare journey. Patients suffering from chronic or acute conditions can really benefit from this full-time approach. If you or one of your people are interested in care coordination, check with the appropriate healthcare system or insurance provider. They often offer care coordination, and you should take advantage.

Even without a care coordinator, patients can attain a similar kind of 24/7 healthcare through digital health networks. These networks, which you can implement in your company, take the form of wellness programs and social communities that allow providers to communicate about a prescribed treatment plan continuously. The objective of this support system is to help patients constantly progress toward health goals in their everyday life.

Accessibility Of Care

It is important that you as an employer know how to help employees efficiently access healthcare. In the digital healthcare ecosystem, care is centered around a healthcare provider’s online healthcare application or digital front door. Patients can conveniently schedule an appointment, fill out the check-in form and communicate with the doctor.

In some cases, the appointment might even happen on the platform via a telehealth evaluation. Beyond what meets the eye, these applications go even further to promote accessible care. They provide digital service offerings to providers, including data management, proactive patient phone calls and connection to personal health tracking devices, giving physicians a more robust understanding of patient health.

Everyone in your company should leverage these services. Encourage your employees to talk to their providers about how to use the digital front door. Further, they can take control of their health data by connecting Apple HealthKit (for iOS) or CommonHealth (for Android) to their respective health systems.

Here is a quick how-to for you to share: If available, log in to your provider's digital front door, your health chart app and any other health-related applications that you use. These connections will increase visibility into your care by centralizing data on your phone to show a near real-time copy of your personal health record.

Affordability Of Care

Digital health is even evolving the way companies pay for healthcare. A focus on direct-to-consumer business models is cutting out the middleman (insurance payers and pharmacy services) to reduce the overall costs of care, specifically impacting employers. Hint Health (Nextera Healthcare) enables direct primary care (DPC) offerings for local businesses and is expanding to larger self-insured companies. DPC programs encourage employees to access preventative care over more costly alternatives like urgent care and the ER. As an employer, this decreases your overall insurance burden. Participating companies showed a decrease in unadjusted claims costs of 19.9% and a decrease in risk-adjusted claims costs of 12.64%.

Additionally, these business models can provide more choice in the healthcare journey, allowing patients to determine who they see and what tests get run. For example, Sesame provides a full-service healthcare marketplace, giving consumers more choice. By bringing health services directly from the provider to the patient, they are able to reduce overall costs by up to 67%.

Another example can be seen in the Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company. They can deliver prescription drugs at a fraction of the cost seen at pharmacies by negotiating directly with drug manufacturing companies. These examples are only a small fraction of the innovation taking place in the greater digital ecosystem.

The healthcare industry is well on its way to transforming how we receive patient-centered care. Each of us can benefit from digital health innovations. That adoption is key to the success of this industry-wide revolution. Technology should be built for those who use it. So, use it. Encourage your employees to use it. Be an early adopter. Through our collective participation, we can maximize the positive impacts of digital health.

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