Updated: Jul 2, 2020
The below is an article I wrote for Cerner's Perspectives. Please reference this link to the full article.
Chronic conditions cost U.S. employers billions of dollars every year, but much of this spending could be avoided by helping people maximize their health care coverage and get the care they need to lead healthier lifestyles. While many organizations have turned to well-being or on-site health services to tackle chronic conditions, it can still be hard to achieve the desired results. An embedded care coordination program could be the missing piece to getting employees more engaged in addressing their own health needs.
Patients get lost in the shuffle far too often – from missed follow-up appointments and medications to not keeping up with their care plan. That’s why more providers are turning to care coordination strategies to help guide people through the complexities of the health care system. Connected care team members, who serve as both guides and translators, are essential to great care delivery and in moving people to engage in their own health care.
When it comes to workforce health benefits, care coordinators are clinical and non-clinical professionals who guide employees through everything from enrolling in benefits programs to finding the right provider and following their care plan. More than half of Americans receive health care benefits through their workplace, making employers and unions well-positioned to help their employees and members access these types of care coordination services.
Outreach increases health care engagement
Engagement in workplace well-being programs typically ranges between 20% and 40%, which makes it difficult to truly address costly chronic conditions. Better engagement starts with outreach that encourages employees to enroll in programs or to be more proactive in managing their own health. These programs are more likely to be effective when they’re tailored to a person’s condition, where they are on their health journey and how they like to communicate. Customer relationship management (CRM) tools can engage employees through their preferred channels, like text or email, while personalizing their messages based on how they respond to communications.
Advocacy leads to better health care navigation
The job of a consumer advocate is to help employees better understand their health care benefits and connect them to resources, including other care team members. On the clinical side, nurses can provide answers to medical questions and help people navigate the right type of care, whether that means helping them schedule a doctor’s appointment or referring them to urgent care or even a hospital.
Coaching helps employees reach and maintain their health goals
Coaches are powerful allies in helping employees take charge of their own health. They can boost employee engagement by:
Identifying care gaps and barriers people face in reaching their health goals
Motivating people to be more invested in their own health and well-being
Providing exercise and nutrition advice
Coordinating with other care team members
Reducing the chances of negative health events
Organizations like Geisinger Health System have already seen results with a care coordination strategy. The Danville, Pennsylvania, provider implemented Cerner services to encourage more employee engagement in its health and well-being program. Geisinger saw 82% of its employees who had not been engaged in the program in previous years take steps to participate in the program. In addition, the percentage of employees within this group who met their BMI goal increased from 16% to 36%.
Managing chronic conditions in the workforce is a billion-dollar problem that can be significantly reduced. Lower costs and better health outcomes start with a workforce health strategy that incorporates outreach, advocacy and coaching.