As the industry is revving up plans for 2020, we can expect the overall healthcare industry to see quite a few changes in the coming months. The industry will see shake ups, both large and small, in various areas, likely including Medicare, the ACA, taxes, precision medicine, and the use of wearable medical devices.
Here are four key areas that will trend in 2020, particularly in regard to population health programs. Looking into our crystal ball, we predict a combination of human-focused and technological adjustments.
1. More dollars will be spent on personalization.
Twenty years ago, population health, by definition, had to be broad in its focus. With the technology of today, however, we are in an extraordinary time in which we can cast a broad net while simultaneously provide a highly personalized experience. Every other area of the consumer experience is personalized—social media feeds, online shopping, and home entertainment content. Company leaders in 2020 will begin to realize that their employees expect to be individually catered to, not just be spoon fed a generic approach that leaves them feeling like their specific needs are not understood or being considered.
This shift will include a growing consideration of a population’s social determinants of health such as such as food, housing, access to transportation, education, and employment. Additionally, we believe companies will start paying more attention to mental health. Depression is estimated to cause around 200 million lost workdays in the United States, and stress costs employers as much as $300 billion a year.
We believe companies in 2020 will roll out a growing number of initiatives to address these social and behavioral determinants impacting health. Program engagement and efficacy will substantially increase when the approach is personalized.
2. Workplace culture will finally be recognized for its importance in population health.
Asking employees to engage in a wellness program can create understandable anxiety. Questions about the company’s motivations, individual privacy, and how supportive middle and upper management really is can all lead to a reluctance to participate. The culture of the workplace is the context in which the employees are going to evaluate whether it is “safe” to participate. Additionally, you can’t expect a healthy, robust wellness program to flourish in an unhealthy work environment.
Here’s some straight talk: you cannot simply launch a wellness program and expect it to work.