2020 was a peculiar year for enterprises across the globe. It was perhaps the first instance where almost every organization, across industries and scales, had to dig into their contingency funds to ensure employee healthcare. From rapid antigen tests to contactless thermometers, businesses worldwide made investments in testing their employees for COVID-19 and keeping them safe. Most enterprises also invested in building or outsourcing new IT infrastructure to track and manage employees’ testing results.
As we come out of the pandemic, enterprises are writing off these investments as lost costs. But we believe that is a short-sighted approach. Organizations can repurpose these health IT investments and proactively conduct employee health testing for non-COVID health risks.
For the first time since the 1960s, healthcare spending has reduced – 2% year over year. The Kaiser Family Foundation survey 2020 shows that premiums for both individual and family coverage in 2020 have increased by just 4%, which is way better than the double-digit percentage increases from the 2010s. These statistics indicate that employer healthcare costs stabilize and continue to do so further down the road. However, this has all the makings of a false alarm.
The massive scope of COVID-19 infections has had a domino effect on preventive and routine screenings for other health issues. Patients aren’t too concerned about the ‘lesser threats,’ and hospitals and labs too focused all their resources towards accommodating the demand for COVID-19. But how long is that going to continue?
When the COVID-19 curve flattens out to virtually become a no-threat, employees will again demand preventive and routine tests they were provided with pre-Covid. Ultimately, employer healthcare costs will rebound again to more or less the same pre-Covid levels.
One of the many ramifications of the pandemic is that patients have become used to the idea of their health needs being met virtually and on-demand. Complex, lab-only tests are now delivered to their home. And the results are delivered almost instantly via text, email, or an app without making a return trip to the doctor’s office.
Moving forward, patients would undoubtedly want to retain this accessibility and will expect their employer to cover the costs and facilitate this arrangement. Looking ahead, employers will need to expand the scope of healthcare to include more telemedicine provisions and benefits.
Health IT can allow organizations to facilitate a wide-scale healthcare program that supports telemedicine. Tech companies are forming new partnerships every day to simplify developing such programs for both enterprise and patient. The pandemic has fueled growth in the already booming Health IT space. But larger Health IT investments are the need of the hour to quicken up the impending move to telemedicine-centric employer healthcare.
The good news is that most organizations already have employer-sponsored healthcare and IT infrastructure, which paves the way for them to double the stakes on Health IT investments. A strategic partnership with a leading health tech company will take care of everything else.
2021 was expected to drive a lot of change vis-a-vis the pandemic’s status quo. But has that happened? That’s still up for debate. But one change that is looming on the horizon pertains to the way health benefits for employees are viewed and delivered. The more benefits provided, the happier and healthier employees will feel coming to work. And as we have concluded in this article, an insightful partnership with a health tech company will bring this idea to fruition.
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