March 4, 2019

Timing Matters: How to Reach Employees When and Where They Need Care

By Cari Murray

As healthcare costs climb, many employers are stepping into an “activist” role with high hopes of delivering a better, more affordable experience for employees and their families.

This leads to plenty of time spent strategizing, planning and communicating about benefits programs and options. Unfortunately, more than 80 percent of organizations say their employees don't even read benefits communications, let alone understand the value of them.¹

That's why Accolade and Teladoc Health teamed up to address challenges like these head on in a webinar. Join Opeyemi Oluwole, Vice President Member Engagement at Teladoc Health, and Umair Khan, VP Solutions Marketing at Accolade, as they discuss the challenges employers face as they aim to improve the employee experience while lowering healthcare costs.

We sat down with Ope and Umair to learn a little bit about their experience and passion for engaging people in their healthcare.

Ope, welcome to our side of the world. Can you tell us a little bit about Teladoc Health and your role within the company?

Ope: Thank you for having me. Teladoc Health is excited about the role we're taking in transforming how people access healthcare. Last year alone we had 2.6 million virtual visits which means people are repeatedly accessing care for a range of healthcare needs. I started back in 2016, and I head up our member engagement department. Our team is responsible for using Engagement ScienceTM to get to know our target audiences to reach our consumers where they are, in their moment of need.

And Umair, how does Teladoc Health's mission align with the way Accolade reaches members?

Umair: We're both committed to reimagining healthcare in a way that puts the individual consumer first. Our healthcare system is broken, and it's near impossible for people to make smart decisions about the quality and costs of their own care. Accolade and Teladoc Health each deliver consumer-centric solutions that address this challenge, and together, we take an integrated approach to help members navigate their health and benefits through deeply personalized interactions at every stage of care. This plays out differently for every member depending on their circumstances and communications preferences.

What makes marketing within the healthcare industry different from a typical consumer market, such as retail or banking?

Ope: This question is near and dear to my heart after spending much of my career in Financial Services. The short answer is — it's not that different. At least, we shouldn't treat them differently. The nuance is that healthcare is deeply personal, especially when you consider chronic illnesses or an unexpected health event. Because of this, we need to surround members with the most contextually relevant communications that break through the clutter in micro moments when they need a doctor's care. People are more accessible and connected than ever, and they want (and expect!) to receive messages that are truly personalized to them, or they won't engage with them.

Can you give a specific example of what isn't driving healthcare consumerism forward?

Umair: Both employers and employees want - and need - a true consumer experience in healthcare, so it functions like other simple, easy purchases in our life. A specific example that comes to mind is high-deductible plans.2 Through these plans, employers have, in a sense, tried to drive healthcare consumerism forward by giving employees greater responsibility so they become better consumers of healthcare. But this “forced consumerism” is only making matters worse: not only are employers still struggling with 6% cost growth annually, and pushing more and more of that cost onto employees as wages stay flat, but they are also seeing growing employee dissatisfaction with healthcare. And worse, when employers adopt high-deductible plans, it encourages employees to consume less healthcare overall — including valuable care like preventive services. So, healthcare consumerism done poorly is actually dangerous.

What can HR and benefits teams introduce in their own internal communications to help boost employee engagement?

Ope: Y You know your employees best, so put yourself in their shoes and put the information they are looking for in the most relevant places. If you don't know, ask them. Set up anonymous surveys and internal focus groups. Look at the quantitative and qualitative data you have available (intranet metrics, email open and click-through rates, program usage, specific questions you receive, etc. — the list is long). Test and learn, and test again. And most importantly, make sure you're surrounding employees with consistent messages across a variety of touch points. We know today that you can't just say something once and expect it to stick. People need to see the important benefits information in the most relevant moments to drive awareness and help them make the best decisions for care in their time of need. For instance, if their child gets sick in the middle of the night, do they know they have 24/7 access to a doctor from home so that they don't have to drive to an emergency room? Surrounding them with valuable information can save them time, money and relieve stress in a moment of need.


Where can HR leaders discover more about bridging gaps in their employees' healthcare experience?

Umair: Ope and I are chatting about this very thing during a live webinar on March 14.

To learn more, check out our on-demand webinar.


¹ Benefits Communication Survey Results, (2016 Feb), International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans,

2 Meeker, M. , (2018, May 30), Internet Trend 2018,