What a platform for employee healthcare management including for mental health should look like

Better access to mental health services may prove to be one of the few positive byproducts of the pandemic. Until recently, and despite more than a century of reforms, a stigma remained around mental illness and its treatments before the advent of Covid-19. A confusing array of services and solutions made it difficult for patients to navigate the market or obtain the care they needed for some conditions, particularly those that were largely unaddressed by their employers’ healthcare plans.

The fear and isolation that Covid-19 fostered in so much of the population have helped shine a brighter light on the importance of mental and emotional well-being, however, once-marginalized challenges have become mainstream health concerns. A survey conducted by the American Psychological Association found increased stress levels among adults compared to a year earlier, with 84% of respondents recently having experienced anxiety, sadness, anger or other emotions associated with prolonged stress. Although people are now heading back to work and school, psychological pressures linger today and may even increase as individuals discover new challenges in readapting to social environments.

It is increasingly apparent that employer-provided health plans need to care for the whole person, connecting mental and physical health with a holistic approach to preserving good health. Employees will logically look to their employer’s health coverage offerings for solutions that will help them deal with the depression, anxiety, weight fluctuations or other conditions that trouble them.

Employers cannot afford to ignore this tidal surge in demand for mental health support. Benefits managers and decision-makers may recognize the need to expand the services their employees are able to access, but may not know where to begin making changes to their existing healthcare and benefits programs.

The good news is that emerging technologies are making it easier for employers to help employees get the support they need to better manage their mental health. More and more organizations are incorporating these digital health solutions into their benefits plans, proactively supporting their employees’ psychological well-being with holistic programs and health management solutions that provide greater choice in treatment options.

Digital dynamics
A good healthcare management platform removes longstanding obstacles that previously discouraged many employers from wading into the pool of mental health and wellness programs, which often involves working with smaller service providers and new, innovative treatments and trends. Here are several ways an advanced health management platform will serve employers while helping ensure that employees are getting the best care for their specific needs.

A range of options
Employees or plan members should have access to an array of high-quality providers and evidence-based solutions to fit their healthcare needs. Enabling employees to take advantage of any of the health improvement programs they choose helps them achieve complete holistic wellness.

Efficient administration
The platform should streamline operational tasks within benefits programs, such as eligibility verification, claims processing, compliance, and vendor management. This translates into fewer staff hours and direct operational savings for the employer.

Unified user experience
It should be easy for an individual to access and enroll in their desired healthcare programs. Employers can simplify access by incorporating the digital healthcare solutions platform into their own benefits access system. The platform provider should manage outreach by its service providers to inform users of important offerings, encouraging engagement without allowing vendors to inundate members with promotional messaging.

Vendor management
Controlling outreach to employees is only one facet of the platform operator’s oversight responsibilities. The provider also vets and maintains contractual relationships with all service providers that make up its suite of touchpoint solutions. This keeps offerings current and fresh while relieving the employer’s human resources department from spending countless hours checking up on provider performance.

Reporting data. An employer needs to know whether its benefits are actually benefiting employees. The platform should continually gather data and provide the HR team with ongoing insight into overall employee wellness and program performance.

Employers today realize they must give workers choices to support their whole being, including resources to meet their psychological needs. Fortunately, digital health management platforms bring together robust offerings that evolve as health needs change. And in a pandemic that seems to create new challenges at every turn, choices are vital to ensuring employees can access support for their changing needs.

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