With a continued spotlight on health and wellbeing, people are taking ownership of their health more than ever, adopting a holistic view of managing their ‘Whole Health’ and planning for a better future. Individuals are placing greater importance on enhanced health insurance cover from their provider, and how they can help them face the demands of modern life and maintain the balance between work and home. People want and need more support to look after their Whole Health, and providing this has never been more important.
It’s alarming, however, how much preventative care is still an afterthought for many in today’s fast-paced culture. People often wait until an emergency occurs rather than being proactive about their health and wellbeing, and the sad truth is that too many people are waiting until they are truly ill before seeking care.
Customers can be empowered by their healthcare providers
IPMI providers play a significant role here, and there must be a commitment to empowering customers with solutions across all areas of life. It’s not about getting individuals back to physical wellness as soon as possible; it’s about creating healthy behaviours that can minimise the chance of physical or mental illnesses from occurring at all. This requires a deep understanding of global health issues and healthcare solutions.
We’re helping people to recognise the value of healthcare solutions and at the same time, empowering them with the right tools to help address stressors and improve their overall health and wellbeing. Not only can providers help support physical and mental health, but with the right support, we can also incorporate support for a customer’s financial health, home environment, family support and work life.
Embedding preventative care in the policy
Change is constant and while human resilience is built in, the last two years have been an unprecedented test of endurance, and many of us have had to find new ways to cope with life’s daily pressures.
To have vibrant, healthy, and thriving customers, IPMI providers need to pave the way for them through investment and innovation in health management solutions to help customers actively address everyday stressors. By providing solutions at scale that are easy to use and accessible when customers need them most, IPMI providers can support their customers across all areas of life, in both sickness and health.
Offering a pre-departure medical assessment for the globally mobile is a crucial first step in preventative care. This assessment is a thorough online examination of an employee’s health risks and aid in preparing the candidate for their new life overseas. The assessment identifies the medical needs of employees, family members and/or dependants and provides access to medical experts on any issues observed during the session. Investment in health risk assessment and employee assistance programme (EAP) services are also invaluable for preventative care as they offer IPMI providers the chance to offer bespoke services that best fit their customers.
Integrated health services and solutions ensure that individuals have peace of mind when seeking care and support, while having a strong medical and supportive nurse-led care team ensures the connection between the individual’s consultation and the rest of their care is maintained.
Rising mental health issues
Mental health issues have risen in recent years, but more awareness is still needed. We recently launched a new initiative to help provide support and address mental health issues, with a suite of new products and expanded services. This new proposition will allow IPMI providers to meet the needs of every customer, no matter where they are in the world or on their wellbeing journey – from local or globally mobile customers to professionals working for IGOs and NGOs, as well as individuals.
Issues such as mental illness, stress, anxiety, and chronic physical health don’t necessarily manifest themselves within work, and could be caused by problems outside of the work environment. By offering support that unites all health issues, IPMI providers can empower customers to develop a proactive mindset when it comes to looking after their Whole Health.
Digital healthcare in practice
Digital healthcare innovations are improving access to healthcare, enabling patients to take control with access to data and tools to make the right decisions about their care. It begins with connecting patients and healthcare providers through mobile technology to improve healthcare outcomes, treatment efficiencies and increasing accessibility of existing or real-time data. Most importantly, digital healthcare can empower the patient through education so they can better manage their health themselves. Telemedicine allows for monitoring of patient behaviours such as their physical activity, nutrition, and adherence to a medication regimen – all critical factors when managing and reviewing care of a patient with a chronic condition. Other virtual health tools, like health cloud technology, can allow healthcare providers to create personalised care plans, comprehensive treatment, and recovery pathways.
By safely gathering data, providers can understand patient health needs from the outset, setting clear goals of what needs to be achieved and measure success. Patients can then access their personal care plan, take control of their Whole Health and self-monitor conditions – and this data can be accessed and reviewed by their healthcare provider.
By leveraging the data of patients with similar conditions, healthcare providers can make better and faster diagnosis and treatment plans for patients in the future. Data can also help redesign better care pathways, improve patient care, and help utilise healthcare resources more efficiently. Through coordinated care, healthcare providers can share patient health information across a network of providers to ultimately achieve safer and more effective, holistic, and personalised care, all contributing to preventative care.
The future of healthcare: prevention through innovation
The healthcare industry is on the cusp of tremendous change and the pandemic has greatly accelerated the move towards digital solutions. At Cigna Europe, we know that innovative health tools can make a huge difference in accessing care. We’re continually challenging ourselves to provide innovative, market-leading solutions, and we believe it’s time to move the health conversation forward to encompass life’s most important elements. People need a new kind of healthcare; one that meets their needs in and out of work and that looks beyond body and mind, providing proactive support for the demands of modern life.
One way we are doing this is though our preventative care Symptom Checker, developed in partnership with Infermedica to help manage existing and new medical conditions. The online tool lets users input their medical symptoms, uncovers the possible causes of these and signposts them to the right care. Users can also gather information ahead of a consultation, putting more information in their hands.
The ease with which people can get medical help and proactively monitor their physical health and wellbeing through telehealth solutions is key for preventative care. The best medicine is prevention, and a preventative healthcare strategy to connect people with the best care, at the right time, and in the right place, will help organisations to thrive.
Data and insights retrieved from wearable health technology, smartphone apps and artificial intelligence can even provide early detection of conditions, identify health trends and track recovery progress. Last year, we introduced the Cigna StressWaves test, which uses the latest artificial intelligence and voice-recognition technology to assess an individual’s stress levels to aid with early detection, while cutting-edge technology such as sensors can track the progress of a patient having treatment for a musculoskeletal condition. This data can also feed into targeted behavioural health campaigns, helping to raise awareness and influence action.