At Collective Health, we know creating the healthcare experience we all deserve is not the job of one company. That’s why we spend a lot of time working with — and listening to — some of the most innovative companies and people working in our industry.
We recently sat down with long time benefits leader, Anne Presson, Vice President, and Director of Benefits Innovation at Woodruff-Sawyer. Anne joined Woodruff-Sawyer last year and is passionate about building innovative strategies to design health programs focused on improving quality and affordability for her clients.
What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in healthcare over the last few years?
After the ACA, we saw a lot of efforts to reform the way providers are paid and a shift to reward value over volume. In the absence of being able to move quickly, many larger companies took matters into their own hands and started to contract directly with providers in order to more directly influence the way care was paid for and delivered. Those efforts manifested in Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), Patient Centered Medical Homes, Onsite Clinics and Centers of Excellence (CoE) programs using a bundled payment approach. Many of these drove tremendous results for both the companies and their employees, and, in combination with Medicare, are setting the stage for the rest of healthcare purchasers. It’s exciting to see new options coming into the market that will enable other mid to large employers the ability to think about how these strategies can be leveraged.
It’s important to support employees so they can play an active role in making healthcare decisions
What should companies be thinking about when it comes to benefits for their people?
Access and convenience should absolutely be on the minds of benefits leaders, and employers of all sizes have options to create new access points via the continued expansion of telehealth and on-site or near site clinics.
Benefits leaders should also continue to look at people-focused technology — platforms that support employees in choosing and using their healthcare programs. As employees continue to take on a greater share of the cost of their care, it’s imperative companies demand continued innovations in tools such as healthcare cost calculators. Equally important is the deployment of shared decision making tools to support patients in having meaningful conversations with their physicians. When it comes to making informed clinical decisions it’s important to support employees so they can play an active role in making healthcare decisions. While there are terrific tools out there (Choosing Wisely an effort by Consumer Reports, is one example), the challenge for employers has been how to get information to employees when they need it.
Along those lines, simplifying the experience for employees is critical. While there are a lot of great solutions out there, benefits leaders need to find a partner who can package everything under one umbrella and assist employees in making the right decision based on their individual circumstances. The evolution of a more concierge type of customer service model, similar to Collective Health’s approach, is a good way to start getting these tools in the hands of employees at the right time.
The vast majority of employees are experiencing a personal energy crisis and are feeling overwhelmed
What should benefits leaders be thinking about that they aren’t already?
Benefits leaders want to attract great talent, have an engaged workforce and create a healthy workplace. In spite of all of the time and money expended, most efforts to date haven’t resulted in meaningful change. I believe employers will see significant impact if they broaden their thinking and look at ways the workplace is creating conditions for employees to be successful. Studies continue to show that a top business challenge is addressing the fact that the vast majority of employees are experiencing a personal energy crisis and are feeling overwhelmed. We can learn a lot more about employee well-being by looking beyond biomedical health risk factors.
One way benefits leaders can begin down this path is to take advantage of Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). Often under-utilized and stigmatized, EAPs offer great resources such as management and leadership training.
How do you think the roles of benefits leaders will change at companies in the next 2-3 years?
Well, it’s certainly not getting any easier. With the burden of ACA tracking and reporting combined with the uncertainty around the excise tax, there continues to be a lot of stress and strain on those in the benefits field.
Companies are also dealing with an increasingly complex workforce and understanding how to communicate and moderate for each audience will pose a challenge that forces change over the next few years.
Finally, I believe benefits leaders will begin to shift their thinking as it relates to organizational and employee well-being. More and more we are recognizing that trying to “get” people to change does not work and there is tremendous opportunity to look at the new paradigm that fuses organizational development and employee well-being.
It’s a dynamic time in benefits and I could not be more excited to have a new player like Collective Health in the mix. The flexibility and simplicity the technology offers combined with high touch customer experience creates a lot of interesting opportunities for our clients.