“If you build it, they will come.” The iconic phrase from 1989’s baseball-themed film may be seared into our collective consciousness, but typically falls short when applied in the real world.
In this case, we’re specifically speaking of point solutions that have been added to enhance existing benefit programs. A point solution is typically offered by a new, innovative company looking to fill a gap in the healthcare system.
A solution might address a specific condition, like Livongo for diabetes, Hinge for musculoskeletal issues, and Progeny for fertility; or something more general like Teladoc for telehealth. And that’s just the beginning of a long list.
While we have evaluated the potential merits and shortcomings of numerous point solutions, the results of our analysis are a conversation for another time. Today, we just want to focus on utilization.
An all-too-common refrain we’ve heard from employers is, “We really like the program, but utilization has been disappointing.” Is this a symptom of a flawed program, or an awareness issue?
We regularly see organizations eager to embrace new solutions but unwilling to promote them at a sufficient level to reach those they were intended to help. This lack of support and resulting awareness is often an unintended consequence of offering a large number of solutions competing for attention.
Start off on the right track by making communications resources and support part of the vendor evaluation process. Not only look at what they offer and how it meshes with the way you currently engage plan members, but don’t be afraid to make specific requests. Just because something is not on the menu, doesn’t mean it’s not available.
Keep in mind that the vendor benefits from high use just as much as the plan sponsor and members. Make sure you ask about best-in-class utilization benchmarks and how those were achieved, as well as required levels of promotion for a positive return on investment.
If this is an area where you feel a bit out of your depth, it would be a great time to engage any internal or external communications expertise you have at your disposal. It’s likely their unique perspective may yield solutions you and the vendor may not have considered.
And finally, this is true for all benefits, but especially so for new programs ꟷ communicate year-round. Focusing all your efforts solely around open enrollment is a flawed formula. For one thing, there is a lot of information competing for your attention and, let’s face it, we all need to hear a message several times in many different ways for it to take hold.
On top of that, the timing might not be right. Consider a program like Hinge. It may not be of much interest during open enrollment, but it sure could be when you hurt your back during the July 4th picnic.
Like all things in life, point solutions are rarely a “If you build it, they will come” proposition. But a solid implementation plan featuring engaging, ongoing communication will sure help make it seem that way.
Need a hand evaluating, contracting for, or communicating the member benefits of a new point solution?
We would be happy to help.