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Five Employer Healthcare Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it massive disruptions to the healthcare landscape. Here we explore five key healthcare lessons employers can take from the effects of the pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic massively disrupted virtually every industry, especially healthcare. However, the pandemic also brought some unexpected benefits and useful lessons on how to improve the level of care your employees receive. As we all continue to address COVID-19 challenges, let’s consider these five valuable lessons learned from the pandemic and the opportunities they create for better employee healthcare in the year ahead:

 

1) Promote Preventive Care:

Over the past decade, and particularly during the pandemic, there has been a significant decline in primary care visits among insured adults. With healthcare costs continuing to rise and chronic conditions becoming more and more prevalent, the lack of regular preventive care among your employee population could leave your organization vulnerable to increased health plan costs. Take promoting preventive care to the next level by adopting a direct primary care solution. Direct primary care is practice of delivering high-quality, physician-led care to employees independent of employer-sponsored insurance. Compared to traditional primary care, employers find direct primary care aligns best with top benefit strategies like promoting employee health and lowering health plan costs.

 

2) Offer Virtual Primary Care:

Remote work has become one of the “new norms” associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. With so many employees continuing to work from home, industries have shifted to accommodate their new remote lifestyle; and healthcare is surely one of them. The rise of virtual primary care during the pandemic has been astronomical. The amount of patients in the U.S. who have had at least one virtual health visit has increased 57% since the start of the pandemic. Offering a virtual primary care solution gives your employees a safe and reliable way to access a physician while keeping health costs down.

 

3) Embrace New Technologies:

Aside from the increased adoption of telehealth, overall healthcare technology has shifted in many ways due to the pandemic. From rapid digitization to powerful software adoption, employers are beginning to recognize the importance of implementing new technologies into their organizations that assist in managing comprehensive health plan data and promoting employee health. Healthgram’s Electronic Health Record software is built to integrate health data from multiple sources, in a user-friendly format, for more effective employer healthcare delivery. This equips clinicians, health coaches and employers with the data needed, in the format required, to maximize health plan outcomes.

 

4) Focus on Cost Management:

According to Willis Towers Watson, U.S. employers expect healthcare costs to rise more than 5% in 2022 and pharmacy benefits to increase 5.2% in cost. In 2020 alone, employer healthcare costs saw a 6.2% increase from 2019, even with many people deferring non-emergency care during the pandemic. With the persistent effects of the pandemic and these unyielding increases, what cost management initiatives can employers adopt to mitigate financial impact? The answer lies in Member Advocacy. Empowering your employees with a team of dedicated health advisors is one strategy that can lead to significant plan savings. Healthgram’s advisors provide your employees with the expertise they need to navigate their care and coverage. With proactive support and direction to high value, fair-priced medical options, advisors are there to help your employees find the right care at the right price; keeping your organization’s healthcare costs manageable.

 

5) Explore Health Plan Alternatives:

The healthcare environment as a whole has had to adapt and evolve in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and it may be time for your organization’s health plan to adapt as well. There has been growing trend each year of more employers adopting a self-funded health plan. Since 2015, at least 63% of all employers and 83% of companies with over 200 employees were self-insured. What is driving this trend? Self-funded plans gives employers more control over their healthcare investment by providing cost transparency and full plan visibility. In addition, self-funded plans, according to the IFEBP, have significantly lower health plan administration costs (typically between 5-10%) than fully-insured plans (15-20%). The potential savings available to self-funded employers can greatly drive down costs and eliminate wasteful spending. Healthgram’s expertise in designing custom self-funded health plans have resulted in our clients spending 23% less on healthcare than the national average.

 

Healthcare as we know it has dramatically changed since the onset of the pandemic and will continue to evolve as the challenges of COVID-19 persist. Is your organization equipped to advance its healthcare strategies to meet the needs of your employees? Get started today by contacting a member of our team. We’ll work with you to develop a comprehensive healthcare strategy that delivers ongoing impact.

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