Family Matters: New Innovations Helping Employees Face Life-Changing Events

As Americans live longer, work longer and have children later, more responsibilities outside the workplace are impacting the health and productivity of employees.


April 01, 2019

It’s in the press nearly every day: Parental leave increasing, along with infertility benefits.  Egg-freezing a draw for millennials waiting later to start their families. Caregiving becoming a top challenge for millennials and baby boomers still in the workplace.

As Americans live longer, work longer and have children later, more responsibilities outside the workplace are impacting the health and productivity of employees. To meet these challenges, employers are integrating family-friendly programs into their benefit strategy more than ever before. Entrepreneurs are making it easy by offering the much-needed support in the form of user-friendly solutions. We explore these options in our latest issue of Innovation Insights.

Support for Parents, from Family Planning Through the Early Years

Becoming a parent is a joyous milestone, but for working moms and dads, it can be stressful. Research shows that while only 2% of working moms plan to leave their jobs due to family reasons, 43% end up either leaving permanently or for a few years. What’s more, millennials report feeling unsupported as they transition to their new role as a working parent.1,2

Innovative solutions are addressing this issue by offering support throughout the pre- and postnatal journey on topics ranging from what to expect during pregnancy, challenges of breastfeeding and the signs of postpartum depression, to name a few. In the process, women come together to build a robust community.

Ovia Health, Maven and Cleo have digitized the maternity programs of old and can provide a one-stop shop for new or expecting parents. Depending on the program, the online platforms may provide benefit information; access to 24/7 support from providers, nurse practitioners and career coaches; screening for postpartum depression; and return-to-work planning, as well as ongoing support for the new parents. These high-touch services not only take the stress out of motherhood, they also drive cost savings by reducing C-section rates, time spent in neonatal intensive care units and unnecessary visits to the emergency room.   

For an individual or couple with fertility issues, Progyny provides access to a premier network of expert fertility specialists who adhere to the latest science to ensure a healthy and successful pregnancy. A Personal Care Advocate made available to families helps them navigate through the many issues involved with infertility. The efficient services, personalized to meet each individual’s unique needs, has been shown to save money on costly treatments and decrease the risk of multiple births.

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Navigating Parenthood

The stress of parenthood doesn’t stop after birth. For this reason, new solutions are coming to market to help parents navigate the critical challenges that may arise.

To help parents with the early childhood years, Cognoa, uses a clinically validated assessment developed by Harvard Medical School to help parents assess their child’s development and/or identify issues or delays early, when treatment is most effective. Educational webinars and resources, ideas for family activities to aid development and a personalized roadmap all take the guesswork out of raising a child.

For families struggling with weight challenges, Kurbo has translated Stanford University’s Pediatric Weight Control Program into an easy-to-understand digital program to help families live healthier lives. With the help of a seasoned coach, color-coded food groups, games and activities, participants learn about nutrition and the importance of daily food choices. The whole-family approach is working: Eight out of ten kids and adults who finished the program reduced their body mass index. Even better, 8 out of 10 families reported developing healthy habits, and 9 out of 10 participants said that they had higher levels of happiness, self-esteem and confidence.

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Some families need a different kind of support. About one in six children have a developmental disability such as autism, ADD or Down syndrome. Caring for a child with special needs can be physically, emotionally and financially demanding. As a result, more than 80% of special needs’ caregivers report mental health issues.3 To help parents cope with these ongoing challenges, Rethink Benefits offers a first-of-its-kind solution. In addition to tele-consultation with behavioral specialists, the program provides e-learning videos; care coordination, peer support, and automated reporting. For the first time, employees with children with special needs have a program that offers the treatment tools and support needed to address challenges unique to this population.

Relief for Caregivers  

By developing an online and telephonic relationship with clients, Wellthy’s care coordinators ease the burden by helping with the hidden tasks of caregiving: assisting with scheduling needs, hiring aides, finding providers, making suggestions for long-term care, and handling insurance bills.  A combination of “service and software” makes life easier for caregivers, giving them more time to spend with their loved ones. For employees with a terminally ill parent, spouse or child, Aspire has built a network of palliative care specialists who provide non-hospice, community-based palliative care. Working in partnership with health plans and accountable care organizations, Aspire clinicians talk to or visit patients once a week and are available 24/7 in case of an emergency.  Aspire also provides oversight related to home health care and medications. The services have already led to results: Hospital admissions have been reduced by between 50% and 70%, and patient and family members report high satisfaction with the solution.

Whether you’re just starting a family or are dealing with end-of-life issues for loved ones, innovative solutions can make a difference. Providing employees with support goes a long way toward improving their productivity at work and their overall quality of life.

According to a 2015 AARP report, about 60% of employees fall into this category, and they spend about 20 hours each week in this role.4

About Innovation Insights

Innovation Insights is an e-newsletter published by Business Group on Health to share innovative programs or solutions coming to market to improve employee health and/or the efficiency, delivery or consumer experience within the health care system.

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