Employers are likely to see the expansion and tweaking of current health and well-being trends next year, according to the Business Group on Health.

Virtual health care that integrates with in-person offerings and the continued expansion of mental-health and well-being services are among six trends that will underscore a “collective urgency” for employers and their workforces in 2022, the non-profit organization if predicting. The other trends include: ongoing attention to health equity, quality and value; a reimagining of workforce well-being to support emerging needs; and a heightened focus on health policy.

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“Each of these trends is critically important, yet together underscore a collective urgency that requires prioritization,” said Ellen Kelsay, president and chief executive officer of Business Group on Health, in a press release. “To be sure, while COVID-19 still has an impact on almost every aspect of health and well-being, the upcoming year will be marked by large employers’ ongoing commitment to these critical areas.”

While Business Group on Health predicted that virtual health care is here to stay, integrating that option along with in-person health care will be a key focus next year and for the years to come as the world looks toward a post-coronavirus pandemic future. Additionally, providing employees with access to a mix of in-person and virtual mental-health care options is likely to help “bridge access gaps for employees,” while employers remain focused on the quality of resources, said the release.

Ensuring diversity, equity and inclusion efforts are part of supporting employee health and well-being will also be a key focus for employers next year. “Employers seek to achieve health equity by offering inclusive and affordable health benefits and well-being programs; seeking representative provider networks; analyzing health disparities globally; and addressing implicit bias and systemic racism to mitigate differences in health status, emotional well-being, health outcomes and mortality across the entirety of the workforce, including those in under-resourced or marginalized groups,” said the release.

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There’s also likely to be a continued focus on quality and value for employers when it comes to employee health and well-being. “In the coming years, employers’ health-care costs are expected to increase for a constellation of reasons, including deferred and missed care and the unknown long-term effects of COVID-19,” said the release. “The quickly evolving landscape could amplify these challenges if not effectively integrated into a holistic care delivery experience with a continued commitment to quality and value.”

While what work and the workforce will look like post-pandemic is still unknown, employers will be preparing for the future of employee well-being in 2022 and beyond, noted the Business Group on Health. “Leading employers continue to drive the evolution of the workforce, including how and where employees work. Well-being resources will need to shift accordingly. Meanwhile, employers remain focused on programs to support psychological and workplace safety, remote or hybrid work and leave-related impacts.”

Lastly, the group predicted that health policy will become more active next year. “Employers are increasingly engaged on policy priorities such as health-care cost containment, quality, affordability, access, reducing administrative burden and uncertainty, payment models, prescription drug pricing, paid leave, mental health, virtual healthhealth equity, surprise billing, transparency and pandemic-related relief and programs.”

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