Healthcare and the workplace in America are intertwined, yet most companies treat it something akin to a paycheck. In other words, health benefits come as a reimbursement for the job. However, healthcare is really an investment in a workforce and healthy employees create a more efficient team. Getting healthy in the most cost effective way possible should be the goal of companies — not simply providing health benefits.
For many large companies, like Toyota, providing their own healthcare system provides workers with great care at a low cost reducing downtown and preventing illness. Many companies like General Motors have even employed weight loss and quit smoking campaigns recognizing that, essential, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
But many small and medium sized companies cannot provide such large scale programs. Technology may be able to help. Marianne Kolbasuk McGee at InformationWeek writes about how many insurance companies are providing portals that are a wealth of information and may streamline healthcare for many employees:
Health insurers have been early adopters of Web portals, providing help checking the status of claims and locating doctors in their health plans. But some insurers are taking those services further, making it easier for members to find other information, such as information on illnesses, treatment cost comparisons, and physicians in a certain zip code that care for a particular condition.
These portals go far beyond the typical list of providers in network:
Aetna, which for years has had relationships with Harvard Medical School and Columbia University College of Dental Medicine to provide content for Aetna’s site, is expanding search capabilities on its Web portal, said John Bahl, Aetna’s head of digital media strategy in an interview. Rather than having to click through long lists of search results or on multiple places on a website, “we’re offering one-stop shopping,” for portal visitors to find medical information, Bahl said. With fewer clicks, portal visitors can more quickly and easily track down the information they’re seeking, he said.
That includes advanced search services for the general public looking for information aboThreaded searches and connections to medical taxonomy are making it easier for members to find information related to health conditions in the context of what’s most relevant to them, based on their gender, age, zip code, as well as the information about other conditions in their Aetna personal health record, he said. For instance, if searching for information on migraines, portal visitors can also easily pull up a list of doctors in their region who treat the headaches.ut a particular medical condition and its symptoms, but also more conveniences for Aetna members who have health coverage through the company.
Portals like this can help companies large and small integrate healthcare into the lives of employees. It is foolish to believe in a strict separation between health and work. Encouraging health maintenance to take place and streamlining efforts particularly for preventative medicine reduces downtime and more serious illness down the road. A health portal isn’t going to cure anyone, but it is a technological tool that can save time and money. And that’s not only a health issue — it’s a business issue as well.
Read the full article in InformationWeek here.