As employers seek to maintain profits while building a stronger, more engaged workforce, they are taking aim at their health and wellness programs. Broad, comprehensive packages that include options like telehealth services, 24/7 physician or nurse access, and apps that provide customized features are increasingly popular, but how can you ensure a sufficient return on your investment?
I. Monetary return from programs
Short-Term Monetary Return
Pro: By providing on-demand availability and speedy access to specialists, remote care helps lower overall health costs by reducing the need for doctor visits. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conducted a study of one employer that introduced an employee wellness program that included telehealth services. The study found that every dollar invested in the wellness program yielded $6 in healthcare savings compared with the previous year. Easy access to medical guidance in managing conditions like heart disease and diabetes can reap short-term benefits in reducing related medical expenses. Continuwell offers plans that include free calls to Registered Nurses 24/7 for employees to discuss symptoms and develop a care plan. Providing free nurses helps ensure that employees take the initial step to their health and these nurses can educate employees on the services available for them.
Con: A Rand study found that only 12% of telehealth access resulted in replacing doctor’s visits, while 88% resulted in new doctor visits. A University of Wisconsin (UW) study found that doctors who offered e-health services saw a 6% increase in doctor visits. These figures suggest that the providers often feel an obligation to see the patients in person following the remote consultation. This increase can have far-reaching impacts, including additional healthcare expenses for the patient and the employer.
Pro: The SHRM study also found that lifestyle management tools that assist employees in quitting smoking, improving their diets, increasing activity, etc. can result in long-term savings. By providing proactive health management mechanisms employees can gain healthier habits, and employers can avoid future costs for serious illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes, and cancer.
Cons: In many cases, telehealth consultations are used for minor symptoms and illnesses such as flu and infections, and there is comparatively less participation in serious disease management. Furthermore, the potential for serious disease prevention returns can take several years to materialize.
II. Effects of Programs on Productivity & Engagement
It is well established that companies that promote, facilitate, and encourage a culture of health have employees that are more likely to be engaged. Healthier employees have more energy and motivation, which translates to increased productivity and less time away from work for health-related issues. The difficulty for companies is that productivity can be abstract and difficult to quantify.
Another factor to consider is that, no matter how effective your wellness program is, it won’t work if your employees aren’t utilizing the tools or adhering to the determined treatment and care plans. Oftentimes, employees forget that the resource is available to them. Providing company tools and enterprise solutions that make it easy for employee access to these resources increases employee engagement. For example, Continuwell not only allows your company to consolidate all of your employees’ resources in one app but also provides trained nurses who are available 24/7 to discuss those resource options with your staff. To increase engagement, you could also consider offering incentives for employees to encourage active participation and follow-through.
The benefits from employee health and wellness programs go beyond financial gains. While your employees meet their individual health goals, the results may not be immediately evident. As healthcare costs fall in subsequent years, regularly survey employees to determine program participation levels, present and future health concerns, and overall levels of happiness, energy, motivation, and productivity. Explore our features page to discover how Continuwell can customize and complement your business’s health culture.
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