Using Navigation Platforms to Boost Health Care Decisions
By Lin Grensing-Pophal | SHRM
The effectiveness of these tools relies on communications and personalization
Workers with employer-sponsored health care often struggle to understand the benefits available to them. They seek support both for choosing appropriate plans and for navigating the health care system with their coverage.
Ill-informed health care decisions drive up the cost of care and are detrimental to employees’ health and well-being. Online navigation platforms aim to help employees make better choices.
Help for HR Departments
Marcia Otto, vice president, product with HealthAdvocate, a firm that provides support to help employees navigate the health care system, said she’s seen increasing interest in health care navigation systems, but also “a long uptake for [employers] to purchase them and offer them to their employees.”
Companies also benefit from having health care navigation platforms that meet employees’ needs.
What to Look For
Effective use of health navigation platforms relies heavily on personalization—but the right kind of personalization.
At the basic level, Otto said, there are systems that simply show employees their benefits options and provide links to them. More-sophisticated systems, she explained, can leverage benefits about the employee based on information they’ve provided or their health history to customize the experience for them—even the ability to generate reminders or prompts when employees should be making appointments or taking other actions relative to their personal health care needs.
Employers also benefit from aggregated data that helps them track the health of their workforce and identifies prominent health risks that can be addressed through wellness programs, such as high rates of diabetes or pre-diabetes.
Communication Beyond Open Enrollment
Given this situation, software developers are aiming to create “a benefits engagement platform [that] helps employees make smarter decisions in the moments when your benefits are most meaningful to them.” “There need to be communications telling employees that this exists,” Health Advocate’s Otto said. The platform itself, she said, should also have the functionality to reach out with messaging to employees based on their characteristics, needs and interests.
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