As health care costs continue to rise and the prevalence of chronic disease continues to climb, investing in wellness has become a business necessity for employers of all sizes. There is growing evidence to validate the value of wellness programming and the impact it can have on health care costs and productivity. However, to fully capture that value, you must get individuals engaged.
Driving participation in wellness programs remains a top challenge for employers. Despite offering rich wellness benefits and communicating them widely, many groups struggle with getting people to enroll and stay active in healthy pursuits. Below are three keys to help you develop more effective wellness programming for your workforce.
1. Engage doctors. Most engagement efforts start and end with the employee. While this is an obvious priority, you will never achieve your desired results if you don’t successfully partner with physicians. An individual’s primary care physician is critical in terms of motivating change and driving healthy outcomes. The patient-physician relationship is the key to getting individuals more engaged in their health. If you can’t reach physicians, you’ll never reach results.
2. Personalize support. The majority of wellness programs claim to be customized for each individual, but in reality this personalization is only surface level. Sending relevant articles, providing general recommendations based on a health risk assessment, or adjusting an online wellness portal to reflect personal preferences just isn’t enough. Individuals will only sustain their interaction if the program provides highly personalized advice, support, and follow-up, including reminders and medical alerts when something needs attention. This requires leadership from their physician, an integrated team, and flexible tools.
3. Upgrade technology. Employees respond to health and wellness when it’s easy and accessible. New technological developments create an unprecedented opportunity for your wellness programs to be user friendly and to make healthy choices easier. In addition to foundational elements such as health portals and electronic medical records, wellness programs must also adopt social networking approaches for better collaboration between an individual and his or her wellness team. They also must create convenience by offering individuals the ability to do more online, such as request doctor appointments, refill prescriptions, and even receive web-based consultations for routine medical issues.
As you review your current wellness initiatives and/or evaluate new wellness partners, determine whether they effectively engage physicians, personalize support, and smartly use technology for a more convenient experience. Successful execution in these three areas will deliver significant increases in participation and eventually greater financial return on your investments.