Employer Solutions | one year ago

2017 Healthcare Trends: Controlling Costs

The Future of Healthcare

By Daniel J. Birach, president, Carolinas HealthCare System’s HEALTHWORKS Division  Several factors are impacting significant change in the healthcare industry. Political policies, economic trends and an increased focus on personal wellness have all served to dramatically reshape how employers and employees approach health, as well as how they will share the cost of care. After a dramatic presidential election, the future of healthcare remains a question mark in some respects. However, we do see certain trends that will play a key role in the health of our nation regardless of what happens in Washington, D.C. And we will talk about these leading trends and others, starting with the issue of cost and -- more specifically -- how employers and employees can work together to control healthcare spending while maintaining top-level care.

Consider This

  • In the United States, we spend more than $3 trillion on healthcare alone.
  • About 30 percent of all healthcare dollars spent in the U.S. could be used more effectively if we were to spend them on something other than their current use. {For example, spending dollars for health coaching to treat the root cause of a chronic condition as opposed to a monthly prescription that manages symptoms.}
  • The treatment of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, accounts for as much as 80 percent of all controllable healthcare costs in the country.
Regardless of political or economic influences, employers are in a direct position to affect their bottom line by engaging their team to manage costs. In 2017, we can expect to see companies taking steps to implement new tools and programs that empower their employees to take control of their health and help reduce their healthcare bills. Some available options include:

Health Screenings

Annual screenings that check key health markers can be one of the most valuable steps a company can take in controlling overall healthcare spending. The collective data demonstrating a staff’s overall health can serve as a benchmark for future planning. For each individual employee, these screening results can reveal chronic health conditions. By identifying and treating these conditions, employees can enjoy a better quality of life while helping to control their personal healthcare bills.

Treatment Options

With the rise of technology and a shift to on-demand care, patients have access to more treatment options than ever before. Importantly, these new treatment options can actually cost less and deliver care more efficiently than traditional choices. For example, being able to connect with a doctor from home via your tablet or smartphone instead of driving to urgent care. Or if an in-person exam is necessary, having access to local clinics with extended hours as opposed to making a trip to the emergency room. Employers that offer on-site clinics, urgent care and virtual health coaching make it easier and more convenient for their employees to get the help they need.

Incentives

While improving personal health always will be a motivating factor, research shows employers that offer financial incentives — either through reduced premiums, bonuses or other perks — see greater participation in health and wellness programs. In 2017, employers need to take a closer look at the incentive programs they offer to their employees and determine what benefits will truly spark action among their team. Of course, controlling and reducing costs is just one of the primary trends we will see this year. In the coming weeks, we’ll take a closer look at two more key trends we at HEALTHWORKS see driving the healthcare conversation this coming year.

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