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Employers should embrace lessons from the online retail world
Think back on the past 15 years and how much technology has changed our lives. Today, we’re less likely to use travel agents, we can execute trades for stocks and bonds on our own, and we can go shopping at 2 a.m. We can even view a property for sale without leaving the comfort of our home.
These advances have also shaped consumer expectations with respect to employee benefits. This is particularly true with regard to the growing adoption of
private health care exchanges that serve as online marketplaces for employees to select group health coverage, and the growing prominence of
high-deductible health plans that give employees financial incentives to consider costs when choosing doctors and hospitals for nonemergency health care.
What expectations do employees have as they navigate health care and other benefits in this new landscape of benefits consumerism? Here are the top five:
The health sector has seriously lagged behind other industries in its adoption of technology and in efforts to be more consumer-centric. Fortunately, there are signs that this is changing. Private exchanges show promise, precisely because they are designed as a retail experience.
While purchasing health care products and services is different from buying a car or a house, consumers increasingly enter exchanges with the same expectations they have when they go online to Amazon. This provides an opportunity is to engage people in ways that make sense to them.
Down the road, consumer-centric entities such as private exchanges will continue to borrow from the retail sector. What are some tools they are likely to adopt?
What does this all mean for HR professionals and the employee benefits world?
Employees know how to be, and will act as, savvy shoppers when given the chance—whether for electronics or for health benefits. Employers who embrace lessons learned and tools used in the online retail world will have much to gain in the coming years.
Ann Mond Johnson has been a leader within health care technology for the past 25 years. As an advisor to
ConnectedHealth, she is responsible for strategy and business development as well as evangelizing consumerism in health care.
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