September 28, 2017

Influencing Employee Behavior for Better Population Health at Lower Cost

By Accolade Marketing

In the past five years, approximately 80% of large employers (5,000 - 20,000 employees) and jumbo employers (more than 20,000 employees) have used financial rewards and penalties to motivate employees to engage in their health, but a whopping 90% of these organizations are now reevaluating those incentives due to lack of traction in changing employee behavior.¹

While employees may opt to participate in a one-time health assessment or biometric screening for cash, they are much less apt to participate in longer-term programs that influence decision-making over time, citing lack of personal relevance or value in their lives.²

Employers are left struggling to find ways to make an impact on escalating costs, especially those related to chronic conditions. And many, according to a recent Employer Benefits News (EBN) survey of more than 300 HR Benefits Leaders, are turning to population health management strategies. In fact, 41% of respondents said they were moderately or very likely to adopt population health strategies in the next 12 - 18 months, while 15% of respondents said they were already doing so.

Population health is a concept that's been around for a long time and has many different definitions. For the purposes of the survey, EBN defined population health as an approach to classify employees by health conditions and then offer those groups of people targeted treatment and wellness plans.

This is a common definition of population health management but is limited in its effectiveness for several reasons:

  • It focuses narrowly on a disease or condition, and often the fastest growing healthcare costs are not related to a single specific condition like diabetes or heart disease but instead are “ill defined,” associated with many illnesses that are hard to pinpoint.
  • It focuses on the similarities of people - i.e., their conditions - rather than everything that makes each person unique, e.g., their social, emotional, or financial challenges, workplace pressures, or any other facet of their life that can impact their health or ability to consume healthcare. If a person has to take three buses to get to their primary care physician, for example, and then can't afford the medications prescribed, compliance may prove too difficult, which can lead to bad clinical and financial outcomes.
  • It engages people after they have already entered the healthcare system - when it's often too late to influence decisions or behavior. They could be getting the wrong care because they simply don't have the information or expertise to navigate the system, resulting in higher costs and sub-optimal outcomes.

As a result, the traditional approach to population health may not prove any more successful than financial incentives in influencing employees and changing behavior over time.

A personalized, holistic approach to population health is much more effective.

If we combine human compassion, clinical and benefits expertise, and intelligent technology, we can deliver a deeply personalized healthcare and benefits experience for each unique individual in the employee population. By establishing long-term relationships that not only engage people but empower them, we can influence their decisions and behavior over time. The result is happier, healthier, and more engaged employees - and materially lower healthcare cost trend for employers.

AmeriGas, the nation's largest marketer of propane, is using this approach today to help employees and lower healthcare spend, materially outperforming the industry medical cost trend.

Want to learn more?

Join us on October 12 at 11am PT for for an Employee Benefit News and Accolade webinar featuring Andy Rosa, Director of Human Resources, Benefits & Workforce Health, AmeriGas.

Register now.

¹National Business Group on Health, Topics,” Incentives. 2017, Accessed Sept 2017.

²National Business Group on Health, Financial Incentives for Healthy Lifestyles. Accessed Sept 2017.