Over the past few years employers have been more aggressive in trying to get their employees to participate in clinical management programs. It makes sense for both the employer and the employees – these programs are designed to improve the long-term health of employees with chronic conditions such as asthma or diabetes, plus they’re designed to do this with lower costs for the health plan. It should be a winning strategy all around.
But except for a noted few employers, the results are generally not good. Engagement rates are running much lower than desired. Employers are on board with the idea of healthier employees and lower costs, and insurers are ready with extensive resources developed to aid in a range of conditions. But where are the employees in all this?
What’s the missing component? How can engagement rates improve?
The same barrier that we often see employers struggling with also applies here: communication. We live in an era where everyone has a smartphone, but often people are simply unreachable. Lack of correct phone numbers, combined with employees who aren’t answering the phone or are ignoring all forms of outreach, is one of the biggest hurdles employers need to address.
Actually reaching the employee to effectively convey information about these programs and resources is paramount. When a nurse calls an employee who has recently filled a prescription for insulin, the employee is going to question why and how they are receiving this call. If they’re not informed, this call likely feels more intrusive than helpful. These clinical management programs are typically voluntary. The sad reality is that most people don’t want to engage in better health.
Insurers are developing strategies to more effectively convey this information and employers, who pay the bills, are demanding action including strong financial incentives to move people to engage. There will be intensive efforts to improve participation rates from all parties. Don’t expect employers to sit back allowing chronically ill employees to stay unengaged.