1. TechnologyRecent announcements by Apple, Google and Samsung to develop healthcare offerings provide clear indications of a melding between technology and personal wellness, according to Michael Kleinrock, director of the IMS Institute and co-author of the report. He says, given the near ubiquity of smart phones, smart business owners need to factor employee technology into their health plan decisions. “Businesses are going to want a health plan that has mobile healthcare apps or that empowers employees to securely access their health records at their convenience,” said Kleinrock. “The patient experience of managing their health and wellness, with mobile devices is something that more and more patients want---and employers don’t have to pay extra to get it. You just need to be mindful of it as an available option during insurance plan selection.”
2. PreventionThe easiest and least expensive healthcare hack for an employer is to make sure that all employees get a wellness checkup every year, since ACA allows for free wellness visits for employees and their dependents. Anybody who wants a wellness checkup only has to make their physician’s office know the nature of the visit when making the free appointment. “If an employee has not been to the doctor in 10 years and has an underlying health condition---if they wait until it’s acute, it will cost more to manage. Specifically, it’ll cost the patient more from a clinical treatment perspective and cost the employer in lost hours, productivity, replacement and training expenses---prevention is in everyone’s interest and it’s a cornerstone of ACA,” said Kleinrock.
3. ConvenienceUnder the ACA reform, there are a variety of minimum requirements or service options that insurance providers must have in place to be a legal health plan. One healthcare hack to consider asking about from a potential insurance provider is “a nurse navigator” hotline, which is completely different than an on-call nurse from your physician’s office. “Very few physicians know the exact reimbursement rates they get from insurers so they don’t know the exact out-of-pocket amount the patient with ultimately have to pay for a procedure. The insurer’s nurse navigator will have a much better idea,” said Kleinrock. “More and more insurance companies have a qualified nurse on the other end of a phone line---available 24/7---the nurse navigator works for the insurance company to help your employees navigate questions regarding covered treatment options, available procedures and how much those things may cost.” Kleinrock says having ready, reliable, easy access to valuable health information is invaluable for both employees and employers alike.
4. Create a culture of healthBeyond those healthcare hacks, various studies -- as well as common sense -- have found that individuals who take responsibility for their personal health and behaviors tend to live longer and have a better quality of life overall. Employers can leverage that fact with the easy-to-implement healthcare hack of creating an active culture of health within the workplace. “There are a variety of low-cost benefits generated for your employees and your business if you help them engage in healthy activities,” said Kleinrock. “Smart businesses allow employees to volunteer in charity bike rides, or they sponsor a team to run in a 5-K fundraiser for leukemia research or choose to be a named sponsor for an event to fight breast cancer or diabetes. While participation in these activities helps employees emotionally and physically, such events also help remind employees that they work at a company that has a culture of responsibility and health, all at a very low cost to the employer.” According to Kleinrock there are several factors beyond cost that business owners need to consider when it comes to healthcare. “While cost is important, there have to be other healthcare mechanisms that business decision makers need to keep in mind to ensure that they choose appropriately to manage their healthcare expenses, as well as the health of their employees, because ultimately the employees drive the health of the business,” said Kleinrock. [Disclosure: Tor Constantino is not employed by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics, but he does work for its parent organization.]
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