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The Evolving Wellness Market and Focus Areas for Health Plans

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According to Global Wellness Institute, the global wellness industry is a $3.7 trillion market today, with insurer and employer offered wellness programs, taking a good chunk out of it accounting to $43 billion market estimation. In USA alone, the corporate wellness program industry boasts of $7.8 billion revenue and is estimated to grow by 7.8% annually from 2016 to 2021. These numbers clearly show that the industry focus on wellness is here to stay. More and more Providers, Health Plans, employers and device manufacturers are making significant investments in wellness.

From a payer perspective, significant benefits can be gained from having a continued focus on the participant’s wellness. Payer organizations have already started experimenting, either with their direct employees or with their contracted company’s employees. Here are some of the emerging trends that Health Plans should keep in mind while defining their strategy for wellness.

  • Growing Popularity of Workplace Wellness Programs
    Wellness programs are not new, but with advances in technology, they are becoming more relevant today. Wellness programs are sponsored by the employer or by the payer, with whom the employer is contracted. These programs motivate and reward employees to adopt habits leading to healthy lifestyle and take care of any specific health condition they might have. The idea here is to make the employees take more interest and responsibility in managing their health, become more productive and avoid diseases before they start. This, in turn, reduced the overall cost that Health Plans must incur.
  • Focus on Behavioral Insights
    To make wellness solutions more relevant and successful, Health Plans are trying to get more insights on the consumers and their behavior traits, social environment and other intimate factors affecting them. On the basis of these findings, a culture around wellness is being built and promoted within organizations.Insurers and health plans are also partnering with employers to know more about their work culture, work force psychology and their employers’ unique requirements. For example, some employers focus on patients with chronic conditions; while others direct significant effort towards improving the overall general health and wellness of their employees.
  • Need for Extensive Data Integration
    With new technology, the number and variety of employee data sources are increasing, making data integrating a key imperative for Health Plans. From the wellness context, the data can come from wearable devices, wellness portals – from patients, coaches, advisors and other sources like third party software. It has now become the need of the hour to seamlessly integrate all this data coming from disparate sources, and generate actionable insights to drive wellness solutions.
    It is very important for Health Plans to leverage various sources, to better identify their target audience and then build optimized wellness programs, that can be customized to meet the unique needs of every consumer.
  • Making Device Integration a Priority
    Wearable technology has matured significantly over the last few years. While adoption is still limited, more and more consumers are expected to use wearable devices to track their health data. Device vendors are taking serious steps to increase market adoption. For example, Fitbit has contracted with more than 1,300 companies, including Health Plans and corporate wellness vendors, to supply Fitbit devices to be used by employees.
    Health Plans stand to gain significantly by integrating wearables with their enterprise applications, especially to enhance the quality of wellness programs. For one, they will have greater access to consumer data, enabling them to manage risk and lower the cost of care.

Eventually, Health Plans that effectively leverage consumer technology, integrate new data sources and implement advanced analytics will be in a better position to drive value from wellness initiatives. They need to work closely with specialized technology partners with a strong understanding of device integration, big data, advanced analytics and data science. Overall, the benefits of taking a technology and analytics driven approach will extend to multiple areas across the healthcare industry, including lowering operational costs, addressing compliance needs and improving outcomes across the continuum of care.


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