Benefit Leaders: How to Increase Health Benefits Engagement for Healthcare Workers

The Challenge

Professionals in the field of healthcare work tirelessly to ensure the wellbeing of others, often putting their own health and wellness in the backseat. 

Healthcare workers are at risk for mental health problems due to the nature of their job. Nearly half of health workers reported often feeling burned out, according to the most recent CDC Health Workers Report. Furthermore, healthcare workers are at a higher risk of suicide than non-healthcare workers, specifically registered nurses, health care support workers and health technicians, according to a recent JAMA report. 

Health care professionals also struggle with physical health concerns. For example, one study on the prevalence of work-related musculoskeletal disorders found that 87% of nurses complained of work-related lower back pain in the past year. Hospitals and healthcare systems are focused on providing employees with the best care to improve their health, retain talent and reduce medical claims. 

As benefit leaders, it's critical to not only provide comprehensive health benefits to your workforce, but to also ensure they are actively engaged with these benefits. This article explores four effective strategies to increase healthcare workers' engagement with their health benefits: education and awareness, accessibility, personalization and holistic approaches.

1. Education and Awareness of Benefits

Healthcare workers prioritize patient care, which means they may not have the time to research and enroll in various health benefits. Yet, accessing these benefis is crucial for their own well-being. To bridge this gap, education and awareness about these benefits must be simplified and made easily accessible. Here are three strategies we recommend to drive awareness:

Streamline Point Solutions

A streamlined approach to health benefits is more effective than a fragmented one. A single platform that offers coverage for several health conditions reduces the burden of choice and simplifies access. For instance, instead of multiple point solutions for different health issues, a unified program that addresses a broad spectrum of health needs - from physical ailments to mental health concerns - makes navigation easier and getting care more efficient.

Simplified Communication

Provide information in a clear, concise and easily digestible format. Partner with providers that offer a customized communication strategy based on your employee population. This may look like an email campaign for administrative staff and mobile updates or home mailers for clinical staff. 

Engaging Educational Programs

Hosting workshops, webinars, or Q&A sessions about health benefits can help with understanding of and engagement with benefits. These sessions should be scheduled at various times to accommodate different shifts. Topics may include how to sign-up for specific benefits, understanding mental health support available, and options focused on preventive health measures.

2. Accessibility

Ensuring that health benefits are both accessible and convenient is crucial for making sure that healthcare workers can and will use benefits programs offered. This requires that vendors build programs that take into account the unique needs of healthcare workers

Digital and Mobile Platforms

Partnering with digital-first providers greatly enhances accessibility. Mobile apps and online platforms allow healthcare workers to fit their care into their busy schedules. Features like 24/7 chat support, online appointment booking, and digital health tracking can make it easier for users to manage their health on-the-go.

Flexible Scheduling 

Considering the irregular work hours of many healthcare professionals, health services like counseling or medical consultations should offer flexible scheduling. This could include after-hours appointments, weekend availability, and the option for virtual consultations, ensuring that users can access these services at times that suit their schedules.

Language and Cultural Considerations

Health benefits providers must ensure that their care is accessible and effective for diverse members. This includes offering multilingual services, offering services across geographies, and providing culturally-competent care that considers the individuals’ background and preferences.  When considering a new benefit provider, ask how their care can be accessed by all employees. 

3. Personalization

Offering health benefits that personalize care to the individual is critical, especially for healthcare workers who understand the value of individualized care plans and treatment options. When considering what health benefit providers to include for your workforce, consider how they offer these types of personalized care: 

Individual Health Assessments

The foundation of personalization is understanding the unique health of each employee. This can be achieved through comprehensive health assessments that take into account not just medical history, but also lifestyle, personal preferences, and even genetic predispositions. Health benefits vendors that offer ways for providers to get to know individuals closely will drive better adherence, engagement, and outcomes.

Customized Care Plans

Care plans offered by benefits providers should be tailored to address specific health concerns and goals of each person. Even if two individuals have the same issue, like low back pain, they may need different treatment plans. For example, one employee might need to start with an anti-inflammatory diet and supplements to reduce pain before starting physical therapy. Another employee - with the same low back pain - may begin physical therapy exercises immediately, while incorporating mind-body techniques like progressive muscle relaxation. It is critical that benefits providers can see beyond the condition to the individual needs of the person. 

Adapting Programs Over Time

Health needs and preferences change over time. As individuals change, so should their care plans. Regular check-ins and assessments should be a cornerstone of benefits programs. 

A digital health partner that leverages technology like AI and machine learning can significantly enhance the amount of personalized care offered. Finding providers that utilize technology for their insights and recommendations will provide the most up-to-date, accurate and personalized care. 

4. Holistic Health Approach

Prioritizing holistic healthcare providers in your benefits strategy is a strategic move to increase engagement and improve health outcomes. Healthcare workers, with their deep understanding of health and wellness, are more likely to engage with a program that addresses the full spectrum of health - physical, mental, and beyond. 

Comprehensive Care

Going beyond traditional medical care, holistic health benefits should encompass a wide range of services, including mental health support, nutritional counseling, and physical therapy. Addressing contributing lifestyle factors in addition to primary symptoms results in better health outcomes.

Emphasis on Preventive Care

A key component of a holistic approach is the focus on preventive care. Providing employees with care for common conditions like back pain and mental health long before conditions become severe will set the foundation for a healthier individual in the long term. 

Mental Health and Stress Management

Given the high-stress nature of healthcare jobs, incorporating robust mental health support for anxiety, depression, stress, burnout and more is crucial. According to a Gallup study, burned-out employees are 63% more likely to take a sick day and 2.6 times as likely to be actively seeking a different job

Partnering with a benefits provider that provides mental health support for all members - whether they initially enrolled for mental health or physical health help - is a smart strategic decision and another reason to consolidate point solutions. 

The Goodpath Difference

In today's dynamic healthcare environment, engaging healthcare workers in their own health benefits is more crucial than ever. It leads to improved health, greater loyalty and a higher quality of life.  

To facilitate this, benefit managers must offer employees solutions that offer personalized, holistic care easily accessible to their entire workforce. Healthcare workers understand the importance of individualized care and are more likely to engage with programs that mirror this approach. 

Goodpath's whole-person care approach aligns seamlessly with the strategies outlined above. Goodpath provides holistic care for MSK, mental health, cancer survivorship and more common conditions. The integrative approach resonates with healthcare workers and encourages high levels of engagement, while driving strong health outcomes. To learn more about bringing Goodpath to your employees, visit us here.