3 Key Takeaways from EMERGE Panel: Innovating at the Intersection of Health and Financial Health

By Welltok Marketing

The intersection of health and financial wellbeing is a highly relevant topic these days and the theme of a panel that Welltok's Senior Vice President of Solution Management, April Gill, contributed to last week. She took the 'virtual stage' at Financial Health Networks’ EMERGE Digital conference with executives from Rock Health, MedPut and Brightside. The panel discussed the relationship between financial distress and other aspects of wellbeing, which are even more compounded in a COVID world. And how it is not enough to offer programs, but ensure you are driving engagement and use. This is where Welltok and April’s expertise comes in.

Rethinking employee engagement, leveraging the right technology, and combatting the “field of dreams” fallacy

“Everyone defines engagement differently,” says April. “At Welltok, we think about activation. We want people to do things that move the needle towards improving their health. Whether it's financial health, working to manage a chronic condition or remaining healthy in general, so they don’t have rising risks. Activation is driven by understanding who the population is,” she said.

“We're taking lots of data and info, including social determinants of health, to get that 360-view of a population is the backbone on how to affect engagement and activation. You need to know who needs what and who has risks. Ask yourself questions like, what are their behaviors? Are they ready to engage? Will they finish program and have a desired result?

Having a program that has a coach associated with it or a program that is self-directed are components of serving the totality of need and understanding the population – whether it's high-touch or high-tech. It's about understanding who got a flu shot, who saw their physician, who went through a financial health training and who used programs beneficial to them. That's what's most important to measure,” she adds.

The “human” factor: support is needed during times of crisis

“It's crucial for employers to remember how humans work. Our brains only have so much capacity to manage stress and crisis… and in the current environment, we’ve pretty much hit our maximum,” says April.

“There are benefits many employers and health plans offer as a “throw-in” value add – like EAP – that provide financial counseling, access to a mental health counselor, legal advice, etc. The average utilization rate for an EAP program in the U.S. is 1-2%, because you only need it once in a while, and when you're in a crisis, your brain doesn't think the same way you do when you're not. You can’t remember what you have access to when you’re trying to manage a particular issue, so you need to have the ability to drive the relevant programs into the face of people who need it - when it's relevant for them. That's going to help employers get the most out of their investment.

“Engagement is not the goal, but activation is – and that’s an important distinction that would help a lot of organizations think differently about how they deploy solutions to their constituencies," adds Matt Bahl, panel moderator from Financial Health Network.

The role employers and innovators play in remediating today’s challenges

“What’s going on in the world is affecting people of color and women at tremendously higher rates than others. We all need to take responsibility for ensuring that our organizations are clear with what we will and not tolerate. We have to go as far as being anti-racist, not just following the rules – which allows the system to continue.

We have to offer support and programing that will address the caregiving stress, financial stress, that promotes for the employees the kind of support program they need in order to get them through what is probably the most difficult times we have. Short up your benefits offerings so people know what they have access to, knowing you have to make difficult decisions with your workforce. Make sure you’re communicating what’s available to them in the community,” concludes April.

With Welltok, you can precisely target and reach people in a truly personalized way – motivating individuals to take actions that improve their total wellbeing. Let’s talk.