Future of Employee Health Benefits Research Proposal

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There is ample evidence of how effective the designing of employee health benefits are so that each employee has an opportunity to tailor programs to their specific needs (Lump, 34, 35). Empirically-derived studies of employee health benefit programs also have quantified the Return on Investment (ROI) possible from structured health benefits so they lead to long-term lifestyle changes on the part of employees (White, 22). Miles White, CEO of Abbott Laboratories, advocates taking a multi-initiative approach to employee benefits that concentrate on preventative measures in addition to sharing the savings to a corporation of having healthy employees (White, 22). The future of healthcare is more focused on preventative healthcare and the treatment of the entire person, a more holistic approach (Sharon, Donahue, 20, 21) than concentrating on specific treatment programs for illnesses after they have discovered. The orientation towards preventative healthcare that encompasses employees' total lifestyles (White, 22, 23) shows consistently more effectiveness over alternative approaches. For any organization to create a holistic view of employees and their health from a social, mental and physical standpoint, its culture needs to be centered on the needs and welfare of employees. In successfully managed health benefits programs, new initiatives are based on the unmet needs of employees and as a result over time HMO costs significantly decrease (Robbins, 1). The future of employee health benefits depends on the culture of an organization and its commitment to create programs that holistically treat employees. Giving employees incentive to better themselves and their lifestyles has significant implications on reducing the costs of healthcare (Alavi, Yasin, 133 -- 145). Involving employees in the process of keeping themselves healthy pays dividends and reduces HMO cost significantly over time (Sharon, Donahue, 21, 22).

Changing Cultures to Support Health Benefit Initiatives

Research Proposal on Future of Employee Health Benefits Assignment

The greatest challenge to many organizations is to modify their cultures to be more focused on making healthy living part of the daily lives of their employees. Getting ownership on the part of employees in health programs, from weight loss to reducing cholesterol for example, require fundamental shifts in the organizations' values. One of the major impediments to companies being able to shift away from incident-based and highly reactive approaches to managing health benefit strategies, versus creating a culture that concentrates on lifestyles is lack of accountability. Companies who take a process-based view first to their approaches of defining health benefit programs and strategies from the employee's view change their cultures the most rapidly (Alavi, Yasin, 134, 135). The use of Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) and Business Process Management (BPM) ensure that health benefit programs and strategies, and the critical information they contain, align to the needs of employees (Kelley, Attridge, 28, 29). This is the foundation of successful change within company cultures. Changing processes to ensure that health benefits are more precisely aligned to employee's unmet needs, interests, wants, and preferences has significant impact on becoming preventative, not prescriptive, in scope. From the studies of how health benefits designed based on the foundation of BPM amd BPR-based approaches to aligning information to employees who need it most, significant cultural change happens (Kelley, Attridge, 34, 35). These cultural changes in organizations include more efficient use of preventative health benefits information and programs, making these strategies more effective (Alavi, Yasin, 140) in reducing illness and long-term negative health conditions. When holistic and preventative healthcare strategies are effective, organizations also find there is a higher level of accountability in results achieved (Bath, 501). Benchmarking and score-carding the periodic review the results of more employee-focused health benefit programs further reinforces accountability into organizations' cultures. Over years of measuring and rewarding results of designing health benefits to the specific needs of employees, relying on BPM approaches makes health benefits very effective in reducing premium costs as well (Robbins, 1). All of these factors taken together must be coordinated and developed as part of a broader healthcare benefit strategy if the culture of any organization is going to change. The reliance on accountability and measurable results is the foundation of effective cultural change in organizations as they move from be prescriptive and reactionary to health benefits and embrace a more holistic, participatory approach with employees.

The Future of Strategic Planning for Health Benefits Programs

The development of long-term or strategic plans for health benefits needs to have the factors of accountability, flexibility, the ability to scale to meet increasing breadth of needs, and the customizing of specific service definitions so that individualized programs can be effectively created for employees. The factors of accountability, flexibility, scalability and customization all are critical in the development of a strategic plan that guides health benefit strategies across an organization. Accountability or the ability to measure, monitor and modify results of health benefits programs is crucial if organizations' goals are to be attained. While many organizations center on costs first (Robbins, 1) the better measures is the percentage of employees actually taking part in lifestyle and preventative maintenance programs (Lump, 37). Employee involvement is the catalyst behind using BPR and BPM approaches to re-align benefits to their unique needs and lifestyle considerations. Accountability of how effective a strategic plan is based on the extent to which employees participate and gain measurable results from their participation in the program. Benchmarking health results to the employee level has been done and shows significant potential as a means to motivate employees themselves to gain greater insights into their health and improve it (Lump, 34). The concept of employees taking greater responsibility for their health, nurtured by greater accountability, also is a major factor in cultures changing as well.

The second factor of successful health benefit strategic planning is designing in flexibility and agility of response. The lack of flexibility of a health benefits programs has in the past been one of the most common complaints from employees and organizations. HMOs with processes and rules that are completely out of touch with the needs of those they serve has stifled many organizations' strategic plans for promoting more holistic approaches to providing benefits. While HMOs have taken a thorough approach to redesigning their processes through BPR and BPM strategies, flexibility is still a challenge given the many regulations and requirements these organizations have. It is the responsibility of an organization to challenge their healthcare providers to deliver a series of programs that have greater flexibility in their use, costs, and aligning to the needs of employees. Further, HMOs need to develop more preventative healthcare services and also create entire divisions that concentrate more on the total person, not just focus on the triage of illness or injury across their entire customer base. For any health benefits strategic plan to be effective there must be a strong focus on bringing the largest healthcare providers they rely on along with them on the path to providing greater flexibility of benefits.

Scalability of healthcare strategies is also critical, and this scalability must encompass both demographic as well as health condition segments of any organizations' employees. To scale health benefits is to provide the same depth and quality of coverage regardless of one or one hundred employees decide to take advantage of the program. An example of scalability is the development of programs to assist employees to stop smoking. While there are coaches and specialists who can diagnose the extent of nicotine dependency, the need for personalized counseling requires a healthcare provider to have efficient and expert-level processes in place to manage the number of employees who choose to take advantage of this program. To have scalability is to be able to treat all one hundred employees at a low cost and with a very high level of effectiveness; to not have scalability is to have this service fail to serve those who most need it. As a result of how critical the aspect of scalability is in any health benefits strategic plan, its importance must also be included at the systemic and process level (Alavi, Yasin, 135, 6).

The ability to tailor health benefits to the specific and unique needs of employees at little or no incremental cost is the goal of many health benefits strategic plans. This ability to customize benefits and preventative healthcare programs is critical to ensuring a long-term cultural shift in any organization as well (Bath, 501). The need for tailoring individualized programs to the unique and special needs of employees is also increasingly being relied on as part of the score-carding and benchmarking process of organizations who are defining best practices in health design benefits (Sharon, Donahue18, 19). Ultimately the success or failure of any health benefits strategic plan in the 21st century is going to be directly linked to best practices of customizing benefits to the unique lifestyle needs, wants, and preferences of employees.

What gets Measured Stays Healthy

Designing health benefit programs as strategies to serve employees is already the catalyst of significant change in many organizations. Making these changes part of an ongoing cultural shift in any organization towards nurturing and… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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Future of Employee Health Benefits.  (2008, September 27).  Retrieved January 16, 2021, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/future-employee-health-benefits/6750

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