Employee Benefits

Switching Employees On: Using Video to Entertain, Engage, and Educate

By DrScott – Posted on March 4, 2014 on www.compassphs.com

Third in the Switching Employees On: Using Video to Entertain, Engage, and Educate Series

Truck drivers can’t watch videos while they drive! So one company’s president created a series of short 3 minute audios to educate and entertain his drivers while they drive throughout the US. This creative, educational, and motivational series follows all three of the major themes laid out in Switch, How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Dan and Chip Health. The rider is directed to take the next “baby steps” for health, the elephant is motivated with emotional stories – some funny, others tragic, and the path is made clear to stop by the onsite clinic, contact the Health Pro, and follow the other simple steps to qualify for the “I Care” health plan. Listen to the audio done by one president here.

Switching Employees On: Using Video to Entertain, Engage, and Educate

By DrScott – Posted on February 27, 2014 on www.compassphs.com

Second in the Switching Employees On: Using Video to Entertain, Engage, and Educate Series

Heart disease is the #1 killer of Americans. The problem is that we often “feel fine” until it is too late – 50% of men and 66% of women die the first time they feel chest pain, according to the American Heart Association. To “turn the elephant” toward a new path away from unnecessary heart attacks and strokes to a long vital life requires creative interventions. In this video all three principles from Switch, How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Dan and Chip Health are addressed.

  1. The rider is directed to “get your biometrics and screening done even though you feel fine”.
  2. The elephant is motivated because “wonderful people who ‘felt fine’ did not get to be there for their spouse and children”.
  3. The path to better care is made clear by “contacting your Health Pro if you do not know what tests are recommended for you, or you need a high quality doctor.”

Using this and other tools this employer has been able to increase annual physicals among its insured members over time. Watch the video here

Bending the Health Care Cost Curve. Making Sure Your Plan Can Succeed

 

By DrScott – Posted on February 13, 2014 on www.compassphs.com

Final Blog in the How to Switch On Your Employees Series

Engaging and activating employees to become more proactive in screening for and managing medical conditions when an employee “Feels Fine” is a challenge confronting every employer. Many companies are figuring out how, resulting in lower costs and healthier employees.

The authors Dan and Chip Heath, in the book Switch – How to Change Things When Change is Hard, point to key variables in any change management effort. Using the simile of a rider guiding an elephant down a path to your destination, they share three areas vital to success. Here are the key variables:

1. Directing the Rider. The culture and beliefs of a company are vital in identifying what will lead to successful change management. Start by:

  • Identifying successful efforts in the past and understanding why they worked;
  • Scripting the critical, necessary moves – like moving to outcomes based benefit design; and,
  • Pointing to the destination – moving from providing insurance to providing a culture that supports proactive early intervention and saves lives to insure every employee is there for their co-workers, family, and friends.

Mistakes often made by employers in directing the rider include: Failing to get C-suite support; not appreciating the politics and informal power structure within a culture; not making the key moves clear; not communicating clearly and repetitively; and failing to articulate the goal in a way that employees can appreciate and will understand the relevance to their whole life, not just their time at work.

2. Motivating the Elephant. Rational understanding of what to do and why is only one aspect of successful change. Elephants are large, have momentum, and don’t like to change from the well-known, understood, and worn path. Turning an elephant requires:

  • Appealing to the “heart” to touch, move and inspire action. “I have a dream” and “We choose to go to the moon,” united and solidified a change far more than, “here are the three things to be done and why we are going to do them.” Share inspirational moments along the journey so employees appreciate the difference being made by this change.
  • Create baby steps. Trying to bite off too much too quickly will choke the process. We all know the joke, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
  • The importance of a learner’s mindset, being open to growth and change, is so obvious it goes without saying. However, making this as a theme of the change effort is often overlooked. To embrace a new way of thinking about proactive health requires a shift in mindset from, “providing insurance” to “insuring that we are doing what we know to do to empower employees to be healthy and productive at work and at home.”

This is an area of health benefit change that will need significant attention in most companies. As opposed to directing the employees (telling them what to do), motivating the employees requires the HR team to lean heavily on their EQ (emotional), SQ (social), CQ (cultural) quotients as opposed to only the IQ.

3. Shaping the Path. Employees are busy. Having to stop and figure out aspects of their life, like health benefits, which are not central to everyday success at work and home slows the development of “muscle memory”.  Answering the question, “How do I get employees to ‘do the right thing’ to utilize their benefits to the fullest”, without them having to “figure it out” every time is the challenge being addressed.

  • The environment must support the change, making it easier to do what you want them to rather than going back to their old ways. Healthy on-site cafés; on site, near site, or mobile clinics; starting every shift with injury preventing stretching or activity; and on site activity centers will all change the environment and have been implemented (in the right situation) with success.
  • Building new habits such as “contact your Health Pro” for any benefit related question simplifies and allows employees to confront new challenges in a “just in time” fashion with the development of one simple new habit.
  • Elephants (and employees) travel in packs. Behavior is contagious and reaching the “tipping point” where embracing the change you are advocating in the company goes from, “you did what?” to “of course, that is what we all do” does not happen overnight, but will occur.

As I wrote this blog, I received an email from a human resources director at a rural production facility:

“Hi all. I just wanted to let you know that one of our employees had one of his age and gender screenings due to the new benefit plan. An issue was found at an early stage and he will be having surgery to correct it and is expected to be 100%. He told me that if it hadn’t been for our new health plan he never would have gotten the screening and in about a year would have been in a much worse state. So, thank you for the new health plans.”

This is a recurrent theme. Plans that encourage and support effective change make a difference. If you enjoyed this blog series, I encourage you to read Switch – How to Change Things When Change is Hard. This blog only begins to scratch the surface of this revealing, well done book. The research and stories shared from Vietnam to radishes (and many others), in Switch provide more examples of how to navigate change successfully and will both entertain and motivate your team.

Charting a New Path. Why Creating New Habits Saves Money at Work.

By DrScott – Posted on February 11, 2014 on www.compassphs.com

Sixth in the How to Switch On Your Employees Series

For one Compass client, “Contact your Health Pro” became the mantra.

  • “Which plan should I choose: the PPO, HMO, or high deductible plan?” Contact your Health Pro.
  • “Who is a great female family doctor near my home?” Contact your Health Pro.
  • “Where do I get my colonoscopy done by the best doctor?” Contact your Health Pro.
  • “How do I find the best, lowest cost place to get an MRI of my back?” Contact your Health Pro.
  • “My doctor says I need glasses, how do I use the vision plan?” Contact your Health Pro.
  • “I have a 3 month prescription and I don’t know how to do mail order.” Contact your Health Pro.
  • “Where is the best cancer center and which doctor should I see?” Contact your Health Pro.
  • “Do I qualify for a weight loss program?” Contact your Health Pro.
  • “Have I met all the requirements for the best health plan next year?” You guessed it: Contact your Health Pro.

The human resources staff had only a few employees. The new outcomes based program had too many variables, something had to change. In the past employees called HR, they were given the phone number for the insurance plan, the wellness program, the PBM, the vision program, and so forth. But the number of phone calls and the complexity was too much. Often in frustration employees just gave up, the HR staff members were exhausted, participation in programs was low, and costs were not coming down.

A new concierge program was brought in. The Health Pro concept, telephone number and website link, were introduced through a number of communication venues that included:

  • Through open enrollment communication materials and meetings.
  • At company meetings.
  • On the back of the health, vision, and dental cards.
  • On the corporate intranet site.

Involvement in the program and services dramatically increased. Every contact was tracked, behaviors were followed, and results documented.

The results were significant:

  • Calls to the HR department went down 25%.
  • Over 40% of employees contacted their Health Pro.
  • Participation in mail order prescriptions, the employee assistance plan, smoking cessation and weight loss programs all increased by double digits.
  • Health care costs for CT scans, MRI scans, and colonoscopies were reduced by 50% for dozens of employees.
  • Use of the “Designated Physicians” who met quality and cost metrics increased by over 25%.

The financial return on investment for the new Health Pro program was reported quarterly and varied from 5:1 to 8:1. In addition, the Net Promoter Score for the Health Pro was 72 – the highest for any vendor the company used.

As Chip and Dan Heath share in Switch, managing the path forward required shaping a new path. The employees had to change their habit from relying on the HR department for all the answers to contacting their Health Pro first. They were beginning to use all of their benefits, and to provided cost and quality transparency information. The “herd” had made the turn and actually encouraging each other on this new path.

The third key ingredient in making the “switch” was successfully navigated and momentum was building. By managing the three aspects of change, the question was not “if” but “how much” success would occur each year. In the next blog we will complete this series and review how to successfully navigate to a high performance, outcome based system.

What Does Your Employee Health Balance Sheet Look Like?

By DrScott – Posted on January 21, 2014 on www.compassphs.com

What is the most expensive item on your statement of revenue and expenses every month? Employee payroll tops the list for almost every company, with health benefits landing in the second or third position depending on whether you are in manufacturing (raw materials often in second place), or a service industry.

Now, how carefully do you manage employee costs? Cost of raw materials? What about health costs? When I ask this question of most CEOs and CFOs the answer is consistent – on employees and raw materials they are meticulous, but they don’t feel like there is much they can do when it comes to health benefits.

Really? As we have examined in these blogs, there is A LOT that they can do. In fact, given the high cost of health benefits it would not surprise me if soon companies will not have to add “Employee Health & Wellbeing” to their Balance Sheet. How? Well, disease doesn’t appear in a person overnight – it takes years, and if detected early it can be cured or slowed dramatically. Why don’t we slow or prevent disease progression?

The “I Feel Fine” Syndrome lulls us into a false sense of security (as we discussed in the last 4 blogs). But this is not inevitable – identified and handled properly, costs stay down, employees stay at work, and families keep their mothers and fathers.

Smart venture capital firms like Blackstone have already figured this out and established companies like Equity Health to get control of this issue. Imagine buying a company, putting in place proactive solutions, and dropping the cost of your number 2 or 3 spend by 10 – 30% in the first 36 months consistently. Regardless of how much the rest of the company performs, you already have created significant shareholder value.

So what will the Balance Sheet say? No one knows exactly, but an educated guess includes:

Assets:

Employee Health (Assets = lower costs relative to average employee of $X)

  • % of Employees

Healthy Employees : $3,000/employee

  • 15%

Employees with Chronic Conditions well managed : $1,400/employee

  • 8%

Liabilities:

Employee health (Liabilities = higher costs relative to average employee)

  • % of Employees

Employees with poor physical fitness <$500/employee>

  • Unknown

Employee with unknown health status <$1,400/employee>

  • 57%

Employees with uncontrolled Chronic Conditions <$3,200/employee>

  • 14%

Employees with Serious Illness <$19,000/employee>

  • 6%

So let’s take a company with 1000 employees paying on average $5000 per year for health benefits. This calculation would be a net negative of <$798,000> on the balance sheet. Getting biometrics, age and gender screenings along with active primary care involvement would shift this from a net negative on the balance sheet to a break even on the balance sheet. It would also reduce health care costs by over $60,000 per month. This approach is logical and attractive both from a financial and employee well-being standpoint. However, it takes experience and competent systems to achieve.

Tremendous opportunity to make very significant differences for your employee’s health and well-being exists. Designing systems that help your employees keep their Seven Numbers at goal will add years to their life and life to their years. Thank you for following this series. Please let us know if you have thoughts or stories of how you are accomplishing this in your companies.