According to “Top Nine Health Industries Issues in 2009,” published last week by the Health Research Institute of PwC, a confluence of three factors is driving the enormous changes: the new administration to the White House, the economic crisis, and the public’s demand for reform in health care.
The report, an annual review of issues for health executives and policy makers, lists three issues for HR and wellness specialists to pay attention to:
- Prevention Is on the Rise
Prevention, including vaccines, “will get a boost from drug makers, regulators and nonprofit benefactors…. In addition, more state and local governments are regulating health-related behaviors, such as banning smoking in public areas and trans-fats in foods.”
- Internet and Social Networking Are Growing
The increased “information and growing patient-to-patient interaction over social networking platforms and web sites such as patientslikeme.com and americanwell.com are changing how health care is navigated and experienced by consumers, especially as electronic health records become more common.”
- Payers and Employers Give More Incentives for Wellness Programs
More employers will give “incentives to encourage responsible health behaviors and participation in wellness and disease management programs.” Only 15 percent of eligible individuals enrolled in wellness programs actually participate. However, workers are “two to four times more likely to enroll in wellness programs if they receive gift cards or other incentives. In 2009, health plans will begin to play a more active role in wellness program design, tools and support.”
What Does This Mean for Corporate Wellness Programs?
Be aware how outside forces are influencing employees’ wellness, and take advantage of change as it happens:
- Take advantage of positive change in government policies. Echo the public awareness of dangers of smoking and trans-fats in your email and communication.
- Educate yourself on internet health and social networking. Do employees know how to use and critique information on web sites?
- Review your plans for incentives in 2009, but more important, be aware of health plans’ intentions.