Healthcare technology shapes employee benefits.
One of Alexa’s most recent upgrades included HIPAA-compliant healthcare skills, which allow users to complete tasks like booking appointments, accessing hospital post-discharge instructions, checking on the status of a prescription delivery and more. As technology becomes more equipped to simply the healthcare consumer experience, the employee benefits industry changes along with it
The evolution of healthcare technology has transformed the way people think about benefits and insurance. From electronic health records to cost and care search engines to online physician reviews, the industry has seen an increase in access to health services and patient data. Case in point: April’s Amazon Alexa updates. For the first time, there is HIPAA compliant technology that makes it possible to communicate protected health information like hospital post-discharge instructions and prescription refill statuses.
Employee benefit offerings will be impacted by the advances in sharing health data via technology, especially since it can now be done in a HIPAA compliant manner. Employees and dependents don’t need to log in to a system or access the internet for information, they can simply ask Alexa questions like “Is my prescription ready?” or “Can you book me an appointment with my physician?” The data that could one day be available thanks to these types of inquiries will offer insights to health insurance brokers and HR departments about what benefits are best for their employees. Furthermore, the more HIPAA compliant technology available, the more opportunities businesses have to offer accessible healthcare and competitive benefits options that will help recruit and retain top talent.
Tailored Benefit Offerings
The recent Alexa updates bring health services to everyone in the household and offer contextually relevant information in real time. Dependents no longer have to wait for details from the primary insurance holder to take control of their health. The ability to book a medical appointment or query recent blood sugar results can provide data that will help tailor benefit offerings that are valued by employees.
The more an insurance carrier knows about employee healthcare preferences, the better they can work with health insurance brokers and businesses to offer health benefits that satisfy employees. For example, if a business’s employees are asking for prescription updates on different medications, plans that offer more RX coverage will be utilized. Or, if employees are making an increasing number of appointments with psychologists and therapists, they can offer more wellness benefits.
Alexa isn’t the only tool increasing access to physicians and prescriptions for employees. In recent years, we’ve seen a rise in the number of businesses offering telemedicine. In 2018, about 60% of the nation’s large employers reported offering telemedicine. Also HIPAA compliant, telemedicine allows for a patient to see a physician both remotely and minutes after making an appointment, through a phone call or video chat. Employees can seek medical care and diagnosis without spending hours in the waiting room or running across town to see their doctor.
There has also been a growing trend in online, delivery pharmacies. People no longer have to wait for their prescription to be filled, and then drive to the pharmacy to pick it up. There are several services that bring prescriptions straight to one’s home, and many services like Capsule and CVS offer same day delivery.
The same goes for insurance cards and searching for in-network doctors. Several insurance carriers now offer online insurance cards and cost & care providers – helping patients quickly find care that their insurance covers.
Visible Value Helps With Recruitment & Retention
It’s no surprise that businesses are using healthcare technology to recruit and retain talent. As the largest generation in the workforce, Millennials are demanding qualities in their benefits packages that aren’t possible without technology, such as those mentioned earlier in this article: telemedicine, online appointment booking, and electronic insurance cards. These are the characteristics of benefits that can help a company be competitive with their compensation packages.
Better access to care encourages employees to visit their primary care physician when they first fall sick instead of waiting until their health significantly deteriorates. This reduces the number of sick days an employee takes and eliminates potential future costly visits to the emergency room or urgent care. Engagement and productivity are likely to increase when employees are assured that their health is as important as their output at work.
The More Data We Have, The Larger The Impact
Data is powerful. It offers insights into decisions people make every day, including their healthcare preferences. The more information a provider has about their consumer, the more options they have to satisfy requests and fulfill demands.
As the number of HIPAA compliant healthcare technology tools and services increase, brokers and businesses will be able to tailor benefit offerings, increase healthcare accessibility, and retain and recruit top talent.
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