It’s increasingly challenging for organizations to ensure their wellness program strategies are effective. In the last several years, specialized point-solutions vendors have flooded the employee benefits marketplace. With over 250 companies in the wellness industry, it’s no wonder organizations find it hard to navigate and select the best solutions for their people.
Wellness companies are no longer white-labeling their programs to third-party vendors. Now, they’re offering integration of existing partner solutions, such as medical networks and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), into their digital platforms to provide a seamless experience to the buyer.
This article discusses a five-step strategy that organizations can follow to modernize their wellness programs by taking advantage of new offerings that meet their participants’ needs:
Also addressed: Common mistakes to avoid!
Before enhancing a wellness program, an organization should outline a strategic plan.
Many organizations use the SMART goal methodology:
|Specific||Decide what do you want to accomplish and why it’s important.||You might want to reduce overall healthcare costs to save money and/or provide an added program to the overall benefit package to improve recruitment and retention.|
|Measurable||Be clear on how you’ll track accomplishment of each goal.||Measurements might include participation and any positive improvements in lifestyle change or decline in health risk.|
|Achievable||Be sure the goals are realistic and define how you’ll accomplish them.||Realistic goals for the first year might be build program awareness, determine what was most popular, obtain employee feedback; and identify any barriers to adjust for the next year.|
|Relevant||Ensure the program goals are aligned with your organization’s overall goals and objectives.||Tie your wellness strategy with your culture and vision.|
|Time-bound||Set a target date to meet the goals.||Create a project plan with a timeline that includes your objectives.|
Creating a timeline with this information will provide a clear path towards a successful wellness strategy.
To retain your people and attract new talent, you need to know what’s important to them. That information is invaluable when you’re building or improving a wellness program.
A survey is an efficient way to gather input. Some important topics to explore are:
The survey responses will provide insights into current satisfaction levels as well as what new components to consider including in the wellness program.
We have a survey-based ranking methodology that quantifies the impact of preferences on overall views of total rewards. Unlike a traditional rating scale, which might imply that everything is important, this methodology forces participants to make choices between options and delivers results that show the relative importance of items being rated.
This exercise looks at what your current vendors offer. It will be effective in enhancing your wellness strategy because it will identify what you can build on, highlight overlapping program components and identify gaps that need to be filled.
In the sample vendor inventory below, color-coded words point out the programs that overlap.
Whether your organization is designing a brand-new program, revamping your current program or simply making adjustments, following a phased-in approach is a manageable way to build a robust wellness program. Conducting feedback at each phase will also determine if you are on the right path and allows for adjustments that may be needed along the way. The table below outlines a phased-in approach.
Introducing or enhancing a wellness program through a digital platform can be a great way to promote it. Access to the platform can be from a smartphone, tablet, desktop and/or laptop. This can serve as the first point of entry for participants to learn about the program, the useful online tools as well as assessments and benefit links to their other healthcare vendors.
If participants are embracing the use of the digital platform, enhancing it by offering a more robust digital experience can improve participation. (To learn more about digital health solutions, read, “The Current and Future State of Digital Health.”)
Health coaching is terrific way to get employees engaged in the program. It also provides another option for individuals who prefer not to use the digital aspect of the program.
Health screenings are an opportunity for early identification of a health condition for which a wellness program can provide education and support. Screenings also promote engagement with a primary care physician.
Through data analysis, some organizations may find they have a particular healthcare need. (Segal can provide data-mining services through our proprietary warehouse, SHAPE.) This data analysis can identify utilization trends (and cost-drivers that are savings opportunities).
Adding any of the resources below will work in tandem with a wellness program and provide enhanced support for your employees.
|Health risk assessment or health assessment||Self-reported questions to a identify interests, health risks and other key details that can help with participants’ digital experience|
|Health library||Articles, assessments, videos and education on a variety of health and emotional well-being topics|
|Self-directed programs, such as weight loss, nutrition and exercise||Courses or modules on a particular topic that provide in-depth education|
|Device connectivity||Connectivity to the digital platform by devices, such as Fitbit or Apple Watch; Additionally, digital therapeutics can be integrated with a wellness platform.|
|Challenges||A variety of challenges that incorporate exercise, diet and nutrition that allow participants to collect badges or points towards a reward or incentive|
|Benefit links||Links to other healthcare vendors for easy accessibility|
|AI/live chat||Artificial intelligence or live chat available for broad questions on the platform|
|Third-party plug-ins (mental health, diabetes, digital therapeutics)||Digital wellness providers partnering with third-party solutions to offer more in-depth and robust options (e.g., mental health, monitoring and care coordination)|
|Reward “mall”||If incentives are offered, participants can gain points for activities that they can redeem for gift cards and healthcare-related items.|
|Digital||Digital platform only via messaging|
|Virtual||Video conference coaching|
|Telephonic||Coaching via telephone|
|On-site||Coach available at the worksite|
|Blood tests||Common tests that healthcare providers use to monitor your overall health or help diagnose medical condition|
|Cancer screening tests||Aim to find cancer before it causes symptoms|
|PSA test||Used to screen for early signs of prostate cancer|
|Colonoscopy||Several screening tests used to find polyps or colorectal cancer|
|Mammogram||X-ray picture of the breast used to look for early signs of breast cancer, sometimes up to three years before it can be felt|
|Chronic care management|
Once a new or expanded wellness program is implemented, it’s essential to define in detail the benchmarks that will be used to evaluate it, as well as to establish short- and long-term measures for each program component.
To ensure the outcome of the program is successful, it’s equally important to set realistic measures. Many organizations do not give wellness programs enough time to produce these measurable outcomes: reductions in health risk(s) and improvement in lifestyle behaviors.
Essential questions to answer are:
In year 2, focus on these questions:
Look for a reduction in:
You’ll likely also experience increased:
Developing a focused and strategic plan will ensure a successful wellness program and a happy, healthy population.
Organizations have the best intentions when setting goals for a wellness program, but it is common for the outcomes to fall short.
Avoid these common mistakes:
When assessing the effectiveness of wellness programs, which are an important part of your total rewards, focus on the value of the investment, rather than the return on investment. The value goes beyond lowering healthcare costs. It encompasses the program’s long-term effectiveness.
Over time, a well-designed wellness program that’s tailored to your participants’ needs will have a positive impact in many areas. It will:
This page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax or investment advice. You are encouraged to discuss the issues raised here with your legal, tax and other advisors before determining how the issues apply to your specific situations.
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