29 Jan Why your employees need integrative wellness benefits
As employers look for innovative ways to support employee health and well-being during the pandemic, many have been relying on telehealth options and apps. But these alternatives are leaving employees with critical care gaps.
“Conventional care has left people to manage their own healthcare,” says Bill Gianoukos, CEO of Goodpath, a personalized care platform. “There’s been an uptick in telehealth services that do one of the components, but we’re providing a single solution that manages your entire care.”Since the start of the pandemic, more than a quarter of employers have boosted employee benefits that address health and wellness challenges, according to Fidelity Investments. But when an employee is left with too many options, they may make decisions that could be detrimental to their overall well-being, Gianoukos says.
“People are stitching solutions together, which leaves the patient to mimic what’s currently broken in the conventional care system,” he says. “The employee is going out and picking and choosing solutions that may not be right.”
His platform, Goodpath, addresses musculoskeletal, sleep, digestive and behavioral health challenges through an integrated care plan. Clients work with a coach and also receive a box of products, like exercise bands and posture correctors.
“We believe in treating the whole person versus just going after the symptom,” Gianoukos says.
In a recent interview, Gianoukos discussed the health challenges facing employees as COVID persists, and why employers may be hesitant to launch integrative wellness programs.
How does integrative wellness differ from more conventional healthcare solutions?
The U.S. healthcare system is built around things that affect life expectancy, not chronic conditions that affect quality of life. Conventional care has left people to manage their own healthcare — everything from taking prescription medication, to going to see a specialist, to doing imaging, to physical therapy — you’re just left on your own to manage your care.
When it comes to behavioral health, people don’t necessarily understand how much behavioral wellness affects overall underlying conditions. [At Goodpath], you come to us with a condition and we will take you through that journey. We will manage your physical therapy and exercise. We will create programs for nutrition. We will create and administer behavioral health programs. We look at all of the multimodal approaches to an integrative care program versus a conventional single-point solution.
What are some of the benefits to this approach, from a productivity and cost-saving perspective?
For back pain alone, an integrative approach might save $11,000 in costs per employee per year. There are many productivity gains, not only from days lost in the office, but productivity lost because of inefficiencies. The average person suffering from a musculoskeletal issue sees 12 days of productivity loss a year. We also make a coach available to you. We believe that any program that actually has a human component has a much higher adherence rate than a standalone digital solution.
Building an integrative approach is very difficult. We see upwards of 12 different specialties represented, from physical therapy to a nutritionist, to a pharmacist, to primary care, to pain management experts. It’s very difficult to go and build these complete integrative solutions. So I don’t necessarily think you’re going to see a lot of companies trying to do this.
What health challenges do you think will see the most need in 2021?
We’re focused on three of the largest conditions afflicting the U.S. population today: musculoskeletal, which can be considered as back pain, shoulder pain, knee pain; insomnia, which also includes fatigue; and then digestive issues like IBS. All of these have a large emotional and mental well-being component. We continuously look at improving and offering more solutions. For example, we’ve trained our coaches on good office ergonomics. Our goal is to keep on offering higher quality solutions for each one of the programs that we’re dealing with.
[Some employees] need more urgent care than can be provided through digital therapy. So that’s when we work with employers to integrate with EAPs. We definitely believe that EAPs add a lot of value — we’re solving slightly different problems, but overall we’re trying to improve the health and the quality of life for all employees at these companies.
SOURCE: Place, A. (25 January 2021) “Why your employees need integrative wellness benefits” (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/news/why-your-employees-need-integrative-wellness-benefits