Integrative Healthcare – The Ideal Benefit for 2021

by Bill Gianoukos

Keeping healthy was the goal of 2020. Employers took a closer look at their healthcare benefits and made additions and adjustments to help employees stay healthy. This goal continues in 2021.

However, one of the most difficult aspects of providing employees with health benefits that are both easy to navigate and cost-effective is dealing with an overly complicated health system. 

People are dealing with multiple providers and fragmented care. The result is, employees are not able to see the health results that could be realized if there were a more comprehensive method to treatment.

One system, integrative healthcare, is easy-to-use, more complete and saves employers money. For that reason, integrative care will be one of the most valuable benefits in 2021.

Integrative healthcare is a system that takes a comprehensive approach to health and wellness by looking at the entire range of factors that contribute to the condition. It uses a blend of conventional and complementary care. Treatment is provided to address short-term symptoms, while long-term solutions are deployed when each patient is ready for them.

Benefits of Integrative Health for Employees

Personalized: Because integrative care is a blend of multiple treatment options, it is tailored to the specific needs of the individual. Modalities of care can include physical therapy, nutrition guidance, medicines, exercise, meditation, etc. These new treatments can be incorporated into already-existing care. The flexibility that comes with multiple approaches improves long-term adherence to treatment programs, leading to better health outcomes.

Better outcomes: Integrative care is a stronger method of creating optimal health. Backed by multiple medical studies, integrative care provides better health outcomes. This comprehensive approach works across multiple conditions. For example, four out of five people reported less back pain using this method, and three out of four were sleeping better, according to studies reported by the Journal of Medical Internet Research and the National Institutes of Health, respectively.

Available anywhere: Integrative solutions are also digital/physical hybrids. A digital delivery system can incorporate a virtual team of doctors, pharmacists, nutritionists and specialists. The team can create a healthcare plan that is delivered on one platform. Additionally, a virtual health coach can help employees follow the plan. This method expands access to employees that would be limited using brick-and-mortar locations only. 

Reduced Healthcare Costs for Employers

Better ROI: From a return-on-investment perspective, integrative care pays back much more than one times its value. For example, using an integrative approach for back pain, an integrative approach could save upwards of $6,000 in healthcare costs per employee per year. That saving is directly tied to lowered medical costs, most often from surgeries avoided, doctor visits not needed, and lower pharmaceutical spending. Considering that our research predicts musculoskeletal treatment costs, the largest portion of employer healthcare spending, will increase 38% in 2021, employers should move quickly to adopt integrative care.

Value for the business: Beyond the purely financial, integrative care helps in VOI (the value of investment). Taking a view that expands beyond cost calculations, integrative care can help the business enterprise in areas such as talent attraction and retention. A recent survey by Luntz Global for America’s Health Insurance Plans found that quality benefits play a significant role in retention, with 56% of employees saying benefits are an important factor in staying with their employers. 

Dividends: Finally, integrative care pays dividends. By giving employees what they ask for with strong health and wellness offerings like integrative care, a company can create measurable external value beyond health results. A recent Deloitte report showed that companies with high health and wellness scores had a 75% greater stock appreciation over six years than the overall S&P.

Looking across healthcare needs, integrative healthcare stands out, making it one of the benefits that employers should offer in 2021. This system provides clear benefits to all stakeholders with its ability to give employees better health results while offering employers a direct return-on-investment. 

Bill Gianoukos is founder and CEO of Goodpath, which provides healthcare for back and joint pain, insomnia and digestive health, providing an integrative approach that creates better outcomes for employees and lower costs for employers.

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