Published July 2, 2021
10 minute read
Archetype Solutions Group and WELCOA recently co-hosted a roundtable with leading healthcare providers and the 2021 Well-Being Trailblazer Awardees LearnLux, Unmind, Wellview, and Peerfit on differentiation in the wellness space. The conversation focused on the best strategies for wellness programs and vendors when marketing to healthcare providers.
The participants agreed that wellness and lifestyle medicine is a critical need for employees, health systems, and individuals. For example, making small lifestyle changes, like eating a plant-based diet, can reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease and more serious medical treatments. Improving the quality and strategy of wellness vendors is key to ensuring their usage and boosting public perception of wellness program efficacy, an industry that has not always been prioritized or trusted by employers.
For wellness to become a staple in people’s lives and actively practiced, the programs and services in the space must be accessible. As health and wellness initiatives and tools continue to grow, the most successful ones will distinguish themselves and make it clear to users what they are offering and why it is essential. Below are six findings on what health and wellness companies should be prioritizing.
Want to get to know our 2021 Well-Being Trailblazers? Don’t miss our awards ceremony July 14th at 2PM EST, where you can vote for your favorite to win the 2021 Well-Being Trailblazer People’s Choice Award! Save your spot now.
1- Engage people the way they want to be engaged
COVID-19 accelerated the transition of health and wellness programs to digital platforms since it became the only way for non-essential medical services to reach their clients. However, in a world where many employees now spend the majority of their day on Zoom, it is crucial that health services go beyond online care to reach patients.
Individuals need to be able to access services, especially unfamiliar ones, in the way that is most comfortable for them. Otherwise, they are unlikely to try them and even less likely to use them consistently. Consumers have different preferences for how they want to receive conversation-based services (phone, text, chat, video call, etc.) and information-based services (videos, websites, articles, newsletters, etc.). Low member engagement with health and wellness services is a salient issue across the board and will continue to be until services allow for enough personalization and flexibility for each employee to engage in the most convenient way for them.
2- Integrate wellness into the workday
Wellness is increasingly present in workplace benefit packages but often only appears in optional programs that employees have to make time for outside of work. One provider shared that they are focusing on integrating wellness into their employees’ workdays by adding stretch breaks into agendas and creating weekly meetings with breakout rooms where employees are encouraged to share what they are grateful for.
After a full day of work, many employees are unlikely to spend additional time online engaging with a wellness program. It is important that solutions help supervisors lead this daily integration from the top down by providing tools to foster well-being that they can incorporate when working with their teams. This is better for the employee and company because improved lifestyle habits positively impact employee engagement, productivity, and absenteeism. In fact, for every dollar spent on employee wellness, employers save an average of $5.82 in absenteeism costs.
3- Clarify the narrative to decision-makers
Wellness programs should realize that one of the primary deciding factors for employers and health plans when making a purchase is the cost of adding the service versus the expected benefit. One provider outlined the question as,
“How does the service contribute to the success and earnings of the company?”
It is useful to consider whether a service enhances the workforce since human capital is a valuable asset to any company. The large number of wellness programs that HR benefits managers hear about can lead to deafness towards the same repetitive language. It is important that vendors are as specific as possible with their programs’ offerings and features so the buyer can clearly see how it will positively impact their members.
4- Embrace the power of personal stories
Although providers agreed that decision-makers want a concise pitch that emphasizes the bottom line, they also talked about the value of passion and personal stories. It gives the person being sold insight into how the product can truly impact people’s lives and make a difference. They shared that it only takes one or two “big-name” clients to provide credibility to other buyers.
This is especially true when it comes to marketing services to small to mid-size companies.
Providers shared that many executives at smaller companies are tired of dealing with massive health plans where there are too many moving pieces, making it unclear which parts of the plan are actually helping.
At small to mid-size companies, decisions are often being made by people who know each employee on a personal level and want to be sure that what they are buying is going to have an impact on their lives.
5- Pick your targets
As large healthcare providers continue to grow, they gain the resources needed to develop solutions in-house. Their size allows them to have their own investment arms and internal start-ups, so if they are buying something externally, it must offer clear value that they cannot create themselves.
It may be more profitable in the long run for companies to target their services and products towards free-standing, mid-sized hospitals or organizations that cannot develop a comparable resource themselves.
In those settings, a new program can really have an impact. At these smaller organizations, it’s also easier to directly communicate with key decision-makers, whereas larger organizations often have many levels of bureaucracy.
6- Move away from fee-for-service
Providers shared that many doctors and systems are trying to move away from the fee-for-service models that often have no real impact on their patients. On the other hand, value-based payments are much more attractive and ensure that the programs are actually being used and achieving results. This is because the fee-for-service model is focused on charging employers and providers a fixed amount for the number of people covered with a program, while value-based pricing bases the cost of a product on the positive impact it will have across the organization. For example, the direct primary care model has been growing in popularity as an alternative to traditional fee-for-service models since the evidence shows that increasing access to primary care reduces downstream costs.
Many health plans do not have transformative features and have been offering the same set of programs and benefits with lacking results for years. If business owners can be convinced that a solution can impact the health of even a select few employees, then it is still worth it if priced on value and engagement.
Continuing to expand program reach looking forward
The conversation between healthcare providers on vendors and services revealed a number of trends and insights that are guiding decisions in the industry.
Convenience and individualized services are key to ensuring that members actually use the resources to which they have access. Without these, it is too easy for one wellness program to get lost in the sea of other options. Providers said improving well-being programs is a necessary step to gain trust in these types of benefits. They also think it will boost individuals’ beliefs that they have the power to make a positive impact on their own health without costly and difficult medical treatments.
The consensus from the discussion was that wellness is a powerful tool with the potential to change health outcomes. However, to become a core component in people’s lives, solutions should be targeted and marketed to the correct buyers in the correct way.