There are many buzzwords in employee benefits, but have you heard of “Health Activation?” While more common terms include “employee engagement,” “member engagement” or “patient engagement,” the industry would be better served to use a term like “Health Activation,” Why? Because Health Activation goes beyond a one-time event and instead focuses on empowering good healthcare decisions.
The other terms are nebulous. Does engagement mean awareness? Registration on a website? Clicks on a website? Attending a Lunch-n-Learn? Participating in wellness coaching? OR… what we all really want: employees making better decisions around their health and their healthcare.
The Healthcare System Needs to Be Fixed
We live in a culture of reactive care. Research shows that only 21 percent of people get routine physicals and less than 20 percent get recommended cancer screenings. As a result, illnesses are caught later, when they’re more complicated and more expensive to treat.
In addition, people struggle to be good healthcare consumers due to the lack of transparency around healthcare costs and quality. They need tools and resources to navigate today’s complicated healthcare landscape.
To create a healthcare system that provides both high quality and lower cost care requires people to change their behavior and become activated in their own health. We call that “Health Activation.”
Health Activation is all About People Being Responsible for Their Own Health
At Compass, we define Health Activation as: “Behavior modification as it pertains to health and the use of healthcare services.”
Why focus on behavior modification? As the old saying goes, “If you do what you always did, you’ll get what you always got.” Or, as Albert Einstein more eloquently put, “One of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.”
If people want to be healthier, receive higher quality healthcare and lower their own healthcare costs, they need to modify their behavior. They must focus on Health Activation.
If an employer wants healthier employees and plan members, better care for its plan members and improve the financial performance of its health plan, employees need to modify their behavior. Employers, too, must focus on Health Activation.
Three Pillars of Health Activation
There are three pillars to Health Activation and activating employees in their own health.
- Living a Healthy Life
This includes eating a healthy diet, exercising at least three times a week, improving stress management, limiting alcohol and avoiding tobacco and drugs. If you do any of these four things poorly, it will result in poor health. Obesity, inactivity, tobacco/alcohol/drug abuse and stress all lead to a decline in health.
- Getting the Appropriate Preventive Care
In addition to living a healthy life, it’s important to get the appropriate preventive care in order to catch chronic disease when it is easier and less expensive to treat. Preventive care includes having a primary care physician and receiving appropriate age- and gender-appropriate screenings (such as blood pressure, cholesterol, breast cancer screening, colon cancer screening, etc.). It also includes getting the appropriate vaccinations, such as childhood immunizations, yearly flu shot and other age appropriate vaccinations (such as pneumonia and tetanus).
- Being a Smart Consumer of Healthcare Services
Healthcare is the one industry where cost and quality aren’t always related. Due to the lack of transparency in healthcare, it’s difficult to find out the cost of a procedure or the quality of a provider. People need tools so they can easily compare healthcare cost and quality data, so they can find highly-rated providers and make informed decisions about their care.
By activating employees in their own health, we can fix healthcare – saving both the employee AND the employer money, while giving employees the high quality healthcare they need and deserve.
To learn more about Health Activation and the Compass Health Activation Platform, visit compassphs.com.