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The State of Health Disengagement

How do we unlock digital to get more people enrolled, lower costs to serve, and improve health outcomes at scale?

That question sums up a major challenge and business imperative to lift programs and people. To frame up that challenge, three key gaps must be considered for meaningful innovation:

The Health Programs Gap

There’s no shortage of solutions or investment focused on the problem. By 2027, the global corporate health and wellness market is expected to exceed $100 billion.

From health coaches to wellness programs, EAPs to DPPs, 401k to HSA, there’s a lot of shorthand around programs that are too often short on utilization.

By the Numbers

At a time when nearly half of U.S. adults report struggles with mental health or substance abuse, only 5% of employees reach out to their EAP. Plus, 6 in 10 are unaware of wellness programs that offer incentives just to engage.

Meanwhile, better convenience and reduced risk of illness are driving more health consumers to telemedicine for mental health and routine care than ever before.

Bottom Line

You likely have many programs in place to support the rising need for total-person care. The opportunity is now to connect your offerings and streamline the digital path to serving the right ones based on need.

By aligning your human services alongside your digital experience journey, you can start shifting from push-based efforts across disconnected programs to a pull-based model that assesses and adapts to the individual’s needs.

The Health Literacy Gap

Patty Starr at Health Action Council sums it up: “Health literacy is the key to lowering healthcare costs and better education is the key to health literacy.”

By the Numbers

As just a sample of an increasingly global problem, 88% of U.S. adults lack health literacy skills needed to manage their health and prevent disease or other illness. 70% of healthcare costs come from lifestyle choices, and people with lower health literacy report worse outcomes.

Bottom Line

Back up. Nearly 9 in 10 adults lack health literacy? That’s a huge number. And part of the problem is that people don’t know their numbers, from reading nutrition labels and measuring medications to understanding lifestyle factors and personal health history.

So if education drives lifestyle choices and choices drive costs, shouldn’t we invest in better education? Yes. But that’s not the problem. From Dr. Google to a WebMD article (designed to sell ads) to a pamphlet to take home, most health “education” is built to inform not to teach.

We know from adult learning theory that simply telling someone to read, watch or listen is not enough. These are inherently passive ways to impart information. If we want real learning and change to occur, we need to design learning experiences that give us ways to reflect, process and apply what we’re learning.

Across need state or wellbeing dimension, a properly designed digital learning experience can personalize to the individual’s needs and guide them to the right programs. In doing so, it can help us solve the health program gap and the health literacy gap at the same time.

The Latent Health Gap

When we look at health programs and services offered today, we see a spectrum from prevention to intervention.

On one side, wellness and benefits offerings are trying to expand beyond hand raisers to help more people quit smoking, move more, or talk to a health expert to start us down a healthier path.

On the intervention side, disease management, care coordination and a host of point solutions are trying to reach people before major issues occur.

That movement to the middle is by no mistake. The vast majority of people show up in the middle. Except, they don’t show up. That’s the problem.

So now that we’ve covered key gaps behind health disengagement, how can we align with evolving consumer behaviors to lift engagement at scale?

Keep Reading: The Future of Health Literacy


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