By VAIBHAV SHAH, CTO
Employers face tough decisions when it comes to employee healthcare plans. According to a wellness survey conducted by Automatic Data Processing (ADP), employers attempted to cut healthcare costs by reducing the number of covered employees, opting for lower-cost, less-desirable healthcare plans, and shifting healthcare costs to employees. This hurts employee morale, job satisfaction, and employee retention. Then there’s the delivery of inefficient healthcare services, such as time-consuming doctor and emergency room visits and disorganized medical records systems, that add to time lost. These growing challenges compromise the health and well-being of employees, thus reducing productivity and hurting the bottom line.
The future of healthcare may sound bleak, but innovations and structural changes in the healthcare industry, along with the of the Affordable Care Act, signal the demand for reduced healthcare costs. One major trend to lower healthcare costs is preventive care through personalized and targeted services. Instead of re-actively spending on expensive medications and treatments after people get sick, preventive care focuses on people’s health long before they get sick, through screenings, regular check-ups, counseling, and other effective, shorter term, and less costly expenditures. Here’s why preventive care is gaining popularity:
- The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation estimated that the federal government would save $18.4 billion on healthcare costs from obesity prevention programs for women.
- Increased use of preventive care services, such as tobacco cessation screenings, alcohol abuse screenings, and aspirin use, could generate $3.7 billion in healthcare savings annually, according to one study.
- Reducing diabetes and hypertension prevalence by 5% through primary prevention would save about $9 billion annually in 1 to 2 years, and potentially save $24.7 billion after 5 years, according to another study.
What does this have to do with occupational health? Preventive care minimizes healthcare costs at the front end with injury prevention and recovery from acute injuries. It also reduces back end costs from chronic treatment, which could have been avoided in the first place with appropriate safety education and quality care. Book a demo to learn more about our approach.
And how does preventive care affect productivity? When employers provide the right tools to prevent and manage employee injuries and overall health, the result is improved productivity through reduced absenteeism. Employees lose valuable work time finding the right medical service, experiencing long wait times, and dealing with bureaucracy. A study found that health-related productivity losses cost employers $1,685 per employee per year. Preventive care can help to avoid lost time, while also maintain a healthy and happy workforce.
Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and telemedicine are developing solutions for reducing cost and increasing effectiveness of preventive care. Accenture, a consulting firm that provides insight driven health services, estimated the potential annual benefits of AI applications to be nearly $150 billion by 2026. An AI platform uses vast amounts of health data to
- manage electronic health records,
- monitor and predict employee health outcomes through data mining,
- recommend tailored treatments with greater likelihood of success,
- provide a direct connection to healthcare providers and resources via telemedicine,
- customize and automate safety protocols.
Thus, personalized medicine is a reality of the 21st century, yet also delivers cost-saving healthcare.
Healthcare companies are applying the powerful potential of AI, and GoHealthNow is leading the movement in occupational health and wellness sector. GoHealthNow platform recognizes employers’ business objectives for timely injury treatment and the quick return of employees to worksites, health data to measure the economic value of injury prevention and chronic conditions, sound health and safety training, and employee wellness programs. The platform allows human resource and safety managers to easily automate pre-employment screenings, generate automatic reports on injuries and return-to-work timelines, and to manage overall employee health programs. Employees benefit through 24/7 telemedicine access, enhanced connectivity to healthcare providers and services, online appointment booking and prescription refills, access to educational resources, and an online wellness support community.
A one-size-fits-all healthcare model is no longer a practical approach. The changing business landscape demands reduced healthcare costs, while at the same time, improve employee health and productivity. Within this landscape, occupational health requires seamless, accessible, and customized healthcare, both in the workplace and outside. Advances in technology and artificial intelligence can meet these needs, and are poised to lower healthcare costs, reduce absenteeism, improve productivity, and support a strong, healthy, and dedicated workforce. It’s a win-win solution for both employers and employees. Book a Demo today!