Why clinical prevention is vital for your business’s bottom line

There’s nothing like a pandemic to uncover the weaknesses in our systems.

To handle an unprecedented influx of new patients, healthcare providers and patients around the globe had to prioritize other care when COVID-19 hit. Preventive care took the biggest hit. 

It’s had a devastating long-term impact – and uncovered a crucial link between the cost of health insurance and preventive care. 

If you’re an employer or an insurer, you’ve probably noticed that your healthcare costs have risen sharply. And it’s almost certainly thanks to the negative health effects of all those missed screenings, skipped appointments, and delayed essential operations. 

But there’s still time for insurers and employers to turn the tide. 

 

“The key is getting patients to understand the value of preventive healthcare – and making it easy for them to access when they need it.” 

 

How did the pandemic affect preventive care services?

The numbers are startling across the board. Almost every area of preventive care was impacted by COVID-19 – from outpatient visits, which dropped by 60% in the U.S., to procedures like colonoscopies which fell by around a staggering 90%. 

And the problems spiraled quickly. Fewer visits to non-emergency appointments meant a huge drop in revenue for many practices, forcing many to close or significantly change operations, impacting access to care. 

This, in turn, meant even fewer opportunities for patients to get the preventive care they needed; 82% of those surveyed in a KFF Health Tracking Poll postponed or canceled their appointments due to closures of clinics or limited appointments.

Some in-person visits are resuming again, but it’s a slow recovery. With fewer practices available, and many providers still trying to curb the spread of COVID-19 by limiting the number of patients allowed in their clinics, appointments are still thin on the ground. 

Why are preventive health services so important?

It’s been proven that 85% of disease can be prevented with on-time screenings and other preventive measures. So when patients delay, cancel, or lose access to preventive healthcare, it has a measurable negative impact on their health. 

In fact, the loss of preventive healthcare has already started to show its impact. We’re still calculating the full effects of the pandemic, but the initial numbers show that there were probably many excess deaths of non-COVID patients that resulted directly from delayed screenings and missed appointments. 

If you’re an employer or a health insurance company, encouraging employees or customers to use preventive healthcare also makes excellent financial sense. 

If patients can take the time to prioritize prevention like screenings (in-person, telehealth or mobile) and preventive procedures, they’re much less likely to need more expensive emergency healthcare further down the line. 

For health insurers, that means fewer big payouts for major medical procedures and late diagnoses. For businesses, it means a huge reduction in employer healthcare costs – and, thanks to improved health in the workplace, far fewer employee absences. It’ll make you a more attractive employer too – job hunters love to see preventive healthcare as part of employee health benefit programs. 

 

How can you encourage employees and customers to use preventive care?

This is the big question: What can you as an employer or health insurer do to buck the trend and get more patients taking advantage of preventive care? 

Make a few simple changes, and you’ll see a huge impact. 

Keep them informed 

Most people avoid check-ups or put off appointments because they don’t know how incredibly effective preventive care can be. 

So, if you want your employees or customers to start taking advantage of preventive health services, start by educating them. You might want to try: 

  • Running an email campaign to provide key information on what preventive care is, how they can access it, and how it can improve their overall health 
  • Giving presentations and talks on the value of preventive care
  • Sharing case studies of patients who have reaped the benefits of preventive care – maybe they’ve avoided a larger health problem, or caught a disease earlier 
  • Making prevention central to your open enrollment and ongoing benefit communications. 

Educating people doesn’t have to cost you lots of time or money; just make sure it’s engaging and accessible, and you’ll quickly bring employees and customers around to your way of thinking. 

Give them up-to-date information 

Staying healthy can feel like a complicated business, and many of your customers will feel like the advice on what’s best for them and their health changes every day – especially since the pandemic.

It’s no wonder that a recent Cigna study reported that about 45% of respondents didn’t know they should see their doctor for annual check-ups, screenings, and non-COVID vaccinations. Lack of awareness of what preventive services to get is  still a significant barrier.

So make it easy for customers or employees to stay up to date with the preventive care news, rules, and recommendations that are relevant to them. You might want to explore sending regular email bulletins with updates or finding ways to push ad hoc notifications when guidelines or advice changes.

Shape your healthcare benefits and workplace wellness programs to suit them 

If you want to maximize utilization, you need to think about how your employee health benefit programs will fit into your people’s daily routines. 

You might want to consider the following:

  • How do they like to receive updates, reminders, and notifications? – Do they want to receive email reminders about appointments? Would they rather use a mobile app, so they can book a screening quickly instead of wading through forms on a website? Do they prefer to enter data via a quick questionnaire, or a longer phone call? 
  • How do they process information? – Do they prefer to read long-form articles about relevant health topics, or flick through a quick summary? Do they retain information best when they watch a video or listen to a podcast?
  • Which benefits will they use the most? – Think about the demographics of your employees, and tailor your benefits accordingly. Make sure the most common needs are covered, but also talk to your employees to find out what they really need (more on this below). 

Use digital therapies to make preventive care accessible 

The pandemic proved that many healthcare services can be delivered digitally – and that’s making preventive care much more accessible post-pandemic.

The explosion in telehealth meant that patients could continue with their scheduled appointments and screenings while remaining socially distanced – but it also allowed many of those who were cut off from healthcare services to finally access the care they needed. 

If you partner with a provider who can deliver preventive care digitally, you’ll be able to provide those benefits to a much wider range of people – affordably, equitably, and without sacrificing quality. 

Empower everyone to shape their own well-being 

If you want your people to embrace preventive care, you need to give them the power and flexibility to shape it to suit them. 

How can you do that? Well, start by:

  • Losing the gated access to high quality prevention. That way everyone can have their say in determining which services should be covered by your healthcare package. 
  • Collecting feedback regularly to check that customers or employees are getting everything they need.
  • Using that feedback to build smarter programs that respond to the actual needs of your employees – whether that’s adding mental health coverage or making services more accessible. 

Make it easy for them to access personalized preventive care

The world (or rather, the internet) is full of advice on how to keep ourselves healthy. For the average patient, it’s almost impossible to figure out what they should be doing to take care of themselves – at least, if they don’t have hours to spend wading through leaflets and looking up symptoms.

Apps like Livez make it easy for patients to easily access the information, advice, and support that they really need – and sidestep the avalanche of irrelevant data that usually threatens to snow them under. Then, once they’re empowered with the insights they need, Livez helps them move seamlessly from getting the most up-to-date information, creating your personalized plan to getting screenings done –  all in one, unintimidating, distraction-free space. 

The key is to remove all of the roadblocks that keep most patients from accessing preventive care, so they’re more likely to follow through with their prevention. 

With the right partner, you’ll also be able to hand over responsibility for lots of the things we’ve covered here – from education to personalization – so you can focus on the rest of your business. 

Treat the person, not the symptoms

An unexpected health issue could crop up anywhere – and be caused by anything – so you can’t afford to make your screenings too narrow. 

Look for solutions that cover everything that might affect a patient’s health. The best preventive care covers mental, physical, behavioral, and sexual well-being, as well as protection from acute and chronic diseases.

It’s the best way to prevent or catch issues early, understand the root causes of any health problems that appear, and make sure your people get the best treatment. 

Say hello to the future of medicine 

In the next 10 years or so, more and more employers and health insurers are going to be embracing preventive medicine. 

That’s not surprising; it’s clear that providing access to preventive care improves patient well-being and can have a huge impact on your business’s bottom line. 

Not sure where to begin with preventive care? At Livez, we help businesses become the healthiest company they can be by making personalized prevention a seamless part of their people’s daily lives. 

Interested? Find out more about what we do for employers and health insurers here.