Helping employers attract and retain with next-gen benefits
by Keith AlgozzineMr. Algozzine is co-founder and CEO of UCM Digital Health. A board-certified Physician Assistant, he was formerly the Chief PA of Emergency Medicine for St. Mary’s Hospital in Troy, NY, where he witnessed firsthand the challenges of the modern health care system. Keith was also part of the national ER startup management team for Pegasus Emergency Medicine. He represents UCM Digital Health on the American Telemedicine Association Accreditation Advisory Board and serves as an advisor to the Clinical Practice Guidelines Committees dealing with telemedicine considerations for urgent and emergency care.
Now more than ever, businesses both large and small, are working tirelessly to prevent talent from escaping to seek alternative work, joining a competitor, or simply choosing to leave the workforce altogether. Additionally, the efforts to lure prospective employees and for employers to present themselves as attractive places of work have risen to a fever pitch.
The escalating effort to draw in new workers as well as maintain a professional quorum stems from recent and widespread events. In 2021—as part of the fallout from the global pandemic, in addition to a burgeoning number of retirees—the Great Resignation disrupted markets across all economic sectors and industries. More than 40 million Americans left their jobs in search of better opportunities.
Evolving into the “Great Reshuffle,” circumstances have led to a mass migration of employees hunting greener pastures and promising horizons for a better job and improved conditions—specifically, one that meets their expectations.
Motivated job-seekers have leveraged labor needs to their advantage and request particular criteria and incentives be met, such as remote work options, a more well-rounded work-life balance, better growth opportunities, and a mission that inspires.
This, in turn, has motivated potential employers to galvanize efforts, revamp stale benefit packages, and step up their employee incentives game. A pronounced situational awareness has washed over the employment process, embracing a new reality where supply must meet demand.
But rising to the top of the needs list—and reinforced strenuously by post coronavirus aftershocks—is the call for better health benefits. The fact is, the large numbers of those filling out applications, cruising job websites, and listing references for background checks, are all casting a firm gaze and immeasurable desire to receive quality health care.
Proof is emerging that this phenomenon is in rapid expanse: 87% of US employers reported they are making it a top priority in upcoming years to drive health care as a top benefit. A deeper dive into the compensation package cosmos shows next-generation health benefits emerging as a novel and innovative approach to attract future and retain current employees.
Employers’ Vantage Point
The lack of an available workforce has risen to a level of near-crisis. Employers are adjusting to meet the need and provide more incentives, allowing employees the opportunity to take a more proactive approach when it comes to their health needs. With health insurance being one of the biggest expenses for employers, smart investments are key. People are becoming accustomed to flexibility and ease of access to anything, when they need it and when and where they want it. By implementing next-generation benefits such as virtual primary care (VPC) and care in the home or workplace, employers will experience a noticeable difference in their workforce as well as their bottom line.
Providing the latest in benefits amenities helps encourage a proactive approach to health needs, direct engagement, and a personal investment from the employee. Instead of skipping a doctor’s visit to not miss work, a virtual appointment is possible with a phone call or the touch of a few buttons.
Through electronic devices—smartphones, tablets, or computers—patients can seamlessly schedule to see a doctor, conduct an examination, get labs and imaging, receive a diagnosis, and begin prescription fulfillment. Wait times are avoided, convenience needs are met, and often there are no charges to the employee for the services.
Consider different real-world scenarios in which this arrangement benefits all concerned parties. Should an employee be pressed for time, they can schedule a quick appointment in the morning, noon, or evening, escaping missing work and life in general. VPC flexibility caters to employee and employer needs, warding off sick times, physician visits, maximizing time and logistics, keeping job sites at full capacity, and avoiding staff shortages.
Providing next-generation health benefits gives employers a modern, forward-thinking approach, as well as a stance that strengthens their appeal to potential hires. It could also, perhaps, be the determining factor for talent who might be on the fence in their professional commitment. Additionally, it can prove to be a valuable tool in maintaining current employees, increasing personnel satisfaction, and increasing loyalty, which will ultimately reduce turnover.
A Day In The Life Of A Worker
During the height of COVID-19, patients—and society as a whole—were drawn to digital health providers out of necessity as well as due to safety concerns. A recent survey from the COVID-19 Health Care Coalition Telehealth Workgroup, showed that 67% of patients encountered lower costs through telehealth, compared to in-person visits. A surprisingly large majority, 78% of patients, reported feeling their telehealth visit addressed concerns and immediate needs.
It’s safe to assume that if this approach worked during lockdowns, quarantine, and at times widespread panic, all while garnering such a high level of satisfaction, it will most assuredly function well during moments of calm and stability.
Next-generation benefits allow employees to experience:
- Reduced time commuting to and from a doctor’s appointment. This will not only save commuting time, but expenses and risks that go along with it: gas, time away from work, and exposure to others within a doctor’s office, to name a few.
- Virtual access to a licensed health care provider at nearly any time and from anywhere. Should the patient want to have in-person care, the transition is seamless.
- Continued assurance of quality care, maintaining expected standards, all at a reduced cost.
Data is key and numbers don’t lie. An additional attractive next-generation aspect is evidence-based care, enabled by an online system that continuously updates clinical data with new treatment approaches, lists histories of effective care, as well as personal and population health analytics to help specialists make the right diagnosis with the best information available. Patients can rely on a provider’s expertise alongside their personal preferences to help determine care decisions. This helps reduce care variability and actively promotes a sense of self-determination and personal investment in the process.
The workforce is demanding more—whether it be in regard to a better work-life balance, parental leave, or standard enhanced benefits across the job market. VPC helps fill that requisite, offering technological capabilities to help make health care streamlined, convenient, and affordable.
Prioritizing Behavioral Health
It’s important to note that we have never seen a time quite like this before. A myriad of disconnected and conjoined events, a time of chaos, uncertainty, and genuine fear has molded a fixation on the importance of addressing mental and behavioral health.
In fact, the American Psychological Association reports the demand for behavioral disorder treatments like anxiety, depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, and others increased greatly between 2020 and 2021. Even as we move forward and normalcy rises to take its place in our daily lives, 96% of psychologists still plan to provide some sort of remote, digital service to their patients.
Employers are stretched to their max to maintain the pulse of the workforce, and are also beginning to provide access to behavioral health through next-generation, virtual tools and technology.
A Substantive Change While Providing Personal Care
Googling random symptoms hoping for insight into a condition is an antiquated practice; sifting through medical opinions in chatrooms relegated to a bygone era. Next-generation engagement tools provide consistent, trusted sources that ensure rigorous standards while streamlining the triage process. It empowers people to be better informed with accurate, easy-to-understand information, so they can rest assured they are receiving quality care.
Both employers and the workforce are adjusting to circumstances and taking advantage of available tools to offer a competitive advantage in finding new opportunities or retaining a healthy workforce. Next-generation benefits accomplish this—the labor pool has access to cutting-edge technology that helps meet health care needs and employers can rise to the occasion, keeping staff in place and operating at maximum efficiency, saving time and money.