New survey findings reveal key market forces impacting health care

New and shifting trends affecting health care are driving important changes in employers’ health and well-being strategies.

The Optum® “9th Annual Wellness in the Workplace Study” shows overall investment in employee health and wellness remains strong among American employers. Increasingly more employers are investing in wellness strategies to ensure their benefits offerings not only respond to, but also positively influence, important workplace and wellness trends.

I recently presented this year’s survey results with two thought leaders from OptumHealth — Elisa Reliford and Dana McNally. We revealed key differences in employers’ survey responses over the last three years, and shed light on several insightful market forces affecting employer benefits strategies, including:

  • Consumer-centric health care. Customers used to seamless digital experiences are holding health care services to the same expectations and standards. Care delivery is also moving from an inpatient orientation to a ‘distributed setting’ model that employs urgent care and ambulatory care. Employer investment strategies in employee health and wellness are reflecting these consumer-driven needs and changes in the health care delivery system.
  • Rising health care costs. The heavy financial burden of health care continues to grow for both employers and consumers. Health care cost increases can outpace salary increases at a time when people are living longer. To address this issue, employers are focusing on programs that aim to create value in the health care system. “Centers of Excellence” solutions are on the rise, with a majority of employers having implemented these models already, with many others considering doing so.
  • The impact of behavioral health needs. Behavioral health concerns such as excessive stress, substance abuse and the opioid epidemic are becoming a priority to address at workplaces across the nation. Employers indicate that there is need to better integrate their behavioral and physical health programs. Many are also concerned with opioid use disorder and are focused on it within their organizations.
  • Technological advances. Advancements in technology are transforming the way consumers engage with the health care system, and how that system engages with them. The use of activity tracking devices and game-like features is up significantly from last year and all trends indicate it will continue to grow. But while employers are increasing their use of technology, there remains a gap to meet the needs of today’s tech-savvy consumers.

Our webinar also explored the growing sophistication of health care data and analytics; the impact of women’s health issues in the workplace; and how employers are evolving their health program mix to focus on healthy travel and healthy work environments.

To learn how these important trends are affecting employers’ health program mixes, view the webinar on demand today.

Click here to watch


About the Author:


Seth Serxner, a national expert on behavior change, program design and measurement, brings the breadth of his experience in academia, industry and consulting to his role as chief health officer at OptumHealth.

His versatile skill set ensures processes and outcomes that improve health for clients in all markets and his deep knowledge of behavior change, population health and measurement allow him to visualize and deliver on program innovation.

He is a published author with over 25 years of experience in health and productivity management and holds a master’s in public health and a doctorate from the University of California, where his research focused on health promotion and disease prevention in social ecology.

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