Healthcare on the Global Stage – What is HRO’s Role?
Health and welfare have been linked not just to healthcare and productivity costs, but to global economic development. In the HRO community, we tend to think of healthcare in terms of the impact on employer costs. Current U.S. healthcare reform reminds us it is an issue of national importance. We need to think even bigger.
According to a joint collaboration that began in 2009 by the World Heart Foundation, World Health Organization, and the World Economic Forum, employers are the best placed to encourage the healthy lifestyles that can positively impact chronic diseases, which are viewed as a global threat to human lives and continued economic growth and development.
Wellness is more than a “nice to do” program; it is an economic imperative, a competitive advantage, or a liability for employees, employers, and countries.
Whether the majority of healthcare expenses are borne by employers or the government, it is part of the total cost of doing business. In a study reported by HR Magazine, illnesses impacted by lifestyle cost the U.K. £17.7bn annually and could escalate to £33bn by 2025. And that is just the costs of three problems: obesity, alcohol abuse, and smoking!
Leading multinational companies are addressing health and welfare benefits from several perspectives: value-based care about employees, healthcare and benefits costs, productivity and the cost of absence, and talent attraction and retention. Many aspects of benefit plans will continue to be shaped by local influences, but with an eye to overall equity across a global workforce.
The long view is sometimes needed to show wellness ROI. Lifestyle behaviors are not easy for many of us to change. For example, in the U.S. it has taken many years but there has been a significant reduction in smoking and smoking-related deaths.
Determining the optimum balance of centralization and decentralization and establishing a corresponding governance system is equally important as selecting the right delivery systems. HRO providers tracking client outcomes are in a great position to help build business cases for wellness and share best practices on what works and how to determine results. Clients, look for HRO vendors with a broad range of experience in change management that can help your organization move forward.
As a linchpin in the healthcare value chain, top tier benefits service providers can bring a powerful cross section of approaches including: research, consulting and design, investment financial advice and services, benefits administration, employee communications and decision support tools, emerging total absence management and employee advocacy services, third party vendor management, and analytics. HRO benefits leaders can also become influential advocates on the national and international stage impacting policy and regulations for millions.
Are you and your benefits vendor partner ready for the global healthcare stage?
Linda Merritt, Research Director, HRO, NelsonHall
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