Health and Welfare Services are a Nice Slice of the HRO Pie

Wellness programs have been around for years, but employers needing to manage ever increasing health care costs are looking for a stronger connection to results. HRO vendors and programs that can show proof of progressive results over time and an impact on health care costs will strengthen client relationships and do well in a still tight market.

Fidelity is adding RedBrick Health’s wellness programs as an optional service offering in its employee benefits and outsourcing program. RedBrick Health is a 2006 start-up specializing in wellness, disease and chronic care management programs that often include employer-funded financial rewards tied to participation in activities and programs. Fidelity selected RedBrick for the uniqueness of its interactive programs, technology, analytics and results that include rates of participation as high as 40-60 percent, compared to industry averages of five-10 percent. And it tracks health assessment biometrics that show improvements of six-30 percent in areas such as blood pressure, cholesterol and weight, which can lower the total cost of health care.

“Nice to have” HR programs are now expected to show value to employees and employers based on outcomes. HR and its HR service providers are under greater pressure than ever to show impact. Some HR services are “need to haves,” and demonstrating lower operating expenses, improved process performance and strengthened compliance are often enough proof in the pudding. Also improving the employee experience is icing on the cake.

Optional HR benefits and services outsourcing in a down economy have a higher hurdle as the looming question is, “why offer the benefit at all?” But outsourced services in the health and welfare (H&W) area that can make the connection to lowering the cost of benefits, health care and the total cost of labor have been bright spots.

Even the larger HRO vendors are aware of this trend. Hewitt has been expanding its H&W offerings with absence management, and it recently acquired HR Advance to add to its dependent verification capabilities. Others, like Fidelity, are selecting specialty partners to build out H&W services.

Where H&W services are transactional, like flex spend accounts, look for innovation in technology and processing efficiency. Other services – such as absence management – need to blend in consultative and deeper subject matter expertise, and the bench strength of the care center personnel is very important. In all cases, the quality of the employee communication and experience is critical, even if cost savings is the driver. If employees are not aware of the program, or do not understand the benefits of participating in it, outcomes will not be maximized. And you need awareness and participation to get to impact and capture a healthy slice of the H&W pie.  

Linda Merritt, Research Director, HRO, NelsonHall

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Explore posts in the same categories: benefits administration, benefits administration outsourcing, health and welfare administration, hr outsourcing, hr outsourcing research, hro, HRO providers, hro research, nelsonhall

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