2021 was a year we all hoped would lead us back to normal. While some might say it was just a variant of 2020, we found much to like about 2021.
In a year that offered multiple vaccination options, as well as multiple strains of COVID, we focused on how to reframe our view of COVID-19 and permanently adapt schools, the workplace, and social settings.
Complete Behavioral Health Solution
Part of our collective reframing came from focusing on change for the better. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, there were several reminders of the mental toll that sickness, distance, and isolation can take. Many times, we turned our attention to quelling the struggles and mental fatigue faced by the student population. This included reviewing clinical care utilization, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on student athletes’ mental health and even how Koru Mindfulness can help college students manage stress.
It was from those reflections and sound data that we continued to develop and enhance the Complete Behavioral Health Solution. The goal of this solution is to provide key programs that support and empower student members to get the behavioral health care they need, regardless of location.
Telehealth supports the Triple Aim
Our Complete Behavioral Health Solution includes virtual solutions, which has proven to be a necessity. It also helped us stay true to the “Triple Aim” by providing the right care, at the right price, and to our members’ satisfaction.
With a shortage of mental health professionals across the country, data supports that telehealth improves access by decreasing wait times and removing geographic and office hours limitations. Further, better access contributes to earlier diagnosis and treatment, resulting in higher quality care and health outcomes. What’s more is that telehealth is helping to reduce the cost of care, including out-of-network costs and unnecessary emergency room and urgent care visits.
Continuing the trend we saw in 2020, there was a consistent use of Wellfleet’s Nurseline and CareConnect, our medical and behavioral telehealth services, respectively. When reviewing the top reasons student members used CareConnect, we found it was for: personal stress (43%), physical health/wellness (21%), depression (12%), and anxiety (10%).
COVID-19 has shined a light on the value and convenience telehealth provides to consumers. Overwhelmingly, it has helped drive member satisfaction via quality care, low wait times, and an overall positive experience, with no or low copays.
Improving access to care for student members
In 2021, we also revisited our offerings to student members to identify where opportunities for improvement exist. That search led us to some great additions, which aim to improve student access to care.
It is no secret that opioid and drug-related overdoses have surged during the pandemic. With more than 40 states reporting increases in opioid-related mortality, we knew we needed a way to help. To that end, Wellfleet has removed the cost barrier to lifesaving overdose-reversal medications, Narcan and naloxone. Now, student members can get one dose of Narcan or naloxone with no out-of-pocket expense. Empowering student member with this medicine can save lives—both on and off campus.
Continuing our student-first focus, we added FreeStyle Libre Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) products to our $0 copay drug list.
With glucose monitoring being such an important part of diabetes management, offering FreeStyle Libre CGM to the student population at no cost after prior authorization helps simplify the testing process for those who qualify, while improving students’ abilities to manage their diabetes. What’s even better is that research shows CGM users have an increase in overall wellbeing, treatment satisfaction, and confidence in managing hypoglycemic episodes.
binx STI testing
Another great benefit added in 2021 was access to discreet, in-dorm or at-home sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing.
According to the CDC, college-age students are among the highest-risk populations for acquiring STIs and the least likely to request testing. To help combat this, while continuing to deliver positive experiences for our student members, we teamed up with binx health to provide college students nationwide access to sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing.
With STI rates are on the rise among this age group, students also face stigmas around STIs and may hesitate to use traditional means for testing. The binx program provides increased access, confidentiality, and convenience to high-quality diagnostic testing.
Now, Wellfleet Student members can request accurate and discreet testing through the ‘everywhere at-home and in-dorm digital platform’ from binx health.
Focus on stakeholder feedback
Student Health Advisory Board
Over the last few years, we’ve made strides to ensure we receive direct stakeholder feedback. That’s why we created the Wellfleet Student Health Advisory Board (SHAB). The SHAB is comprised of higher education student health and administration professionals, who represent clients and non-clients, large and small schools, and private and public institutions. Its primary purpose is for Wellfleet to hear first-hand about the health and wellness needs and conditions in the student health space and identify ways to improve that experience.
Student Health Advisory Committee
Due to the success and positive feedback of the SHAB, in the fall of 2021, we started recruiting for our Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC). Created as a means of obtaining direct, unbiased student member insights to enhance the student healthcare experience, the SHAC aims to positively impact the quality of healthcare and wellness of our student members.
The SHAC currently has six members and, starting in 2022, will serve as a sounding board to understand the needs, challenges, and priorities of our insured student members. We look forward to gathering their input on a wide range of topics, including: benefit designs and coverage, clinical programs, member experience and servicing, communication and education, and access to care and providers.
Stakeholder Survey findings
In August of 2021, we issued a survey to the SHAB to gain feedback on what supplementary clinical and wellness programs, delivered virtually or digitally, should be offered under the ideal Student Health Insurance Plan.
In September, we delivered a similar survey to student members to ensure we also had the student perspective. Its focus was to learn more about the solutions not already available on campus that would be beneficial via our SHIP.
While this feedback revealed some differences in priorities, there was a strong emphasis on access to:
- Physical Health: Primary/specialty care and emergency telehealth/triage
- Behavioral Health: Urgent and non-urgent telehealth services, as well as digital cognitive behavioral therapy (dCBT)
- Digital Wellness: Self-assessments and self-guided courses for stress resilience, sleep improvement, and mindfulness
- Discount Services: Wellness services, including massages and fitness memberships
- Telehealth: Integrated medical/BH telehealth solution versus separate hotlines
The invaluable feedback of our SHAB and student members is helping us to continue building stronger, student-focused solutions. Over the next 12 months, we’ll reconvene with the SHAB and SHAC to discuss their experiences and perspectives and ways we can enhance the student health experience. We look forward to sharing our progress.
Payment integrity program
In 2021, we introduced you to our Payment Integrity Program and the work our team does in upholding our commitment to the Triple Aim, which is to provide the right care, at the right price, and to our members’ satisfaction.
This can be seen in commitment of our Provider Relations Team, whose efforts in one case saved a school plan nearly $500,0000 and a student member more than $40,000 in out-of-pocket costs. Further, we shared time and again how our billing scrutiny straightened out incorrect billing, reduced students’ out-of-pocket expenses, and made the overall billing experience more palatable.
In 2021, the team ramped up its efforts to improve the internal processes tied to case reviews. We’re happy to report that this work led to an enhanced review process and an additional $1.5 million in savings for our clients.
In total, these efforts saved clients nearly $20 million in 2021, helping to reduce the cost of care in an industry with rising cost.
ADHD utilization management
In addition to updating our offerings, we’re constantly reviewing data to ensure our programs meet the needs of our clients and student members. In 2021, we measured the impact of utilization management strategies for ADHD, including step therapy, quantity limits, and prior authorizations.
These clinical strategies were put in place to help ensure student members receive the most appropriate medications, while lowering the overall cost of health care.
When reviewing the plan savings for participating schools across one semester, the data revealed that these techniques are working. In addition to connecting student members with superior treatment results, these programs save money for both the student member and schools. Overall, this single program saved Wellfleet’s school partners nearly $200,000 during the analysis period!
In the community
In addition to doing the best we can for our student members and clients, Wellfleet works hard to give back to the communities we serve. This includes our employees helping raise funds for Rays of Hope, The United Way and food banks across the country, including Feeding America.
Additionally, we sponsored ACHF’s Giving Tuesday. With our company match of $12,500, we helped raise $25,760. Campaign funds will be used to help more than 800 member institutions of higher education via advocacy for the physical and mental health of students and college communities.
Looking forward to 2022
As we reflect on the past two years, there is no denying that people across the globe have overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges and faced adversity head on. We are, in fact, stronger than we might believe. It is with this in mind that we wish you a great 2022!
To stay on top of Wellfleet Student happenings, sign up for our monthly clinical newsletter. We look forward to providing you with updates on the great things we’re working on throughout the year.