Report: 88% Of Employers Are Planning Changes to Health Vendor Partnerships

About nine in 10, or 88%, of employers are planning to make changes to their health vendor partners in the next couple of years, a new survey found. Another 46% said they’ve already made changes in the last year.

The survey was released Tuesday by Willis Towers Watson (WTW). It received responses from 232 employers with 100 or more employees.

Employers are most interested in switching up their vendor partners for wellbeing programs, including physical, emotional, social and financial wellbeing. About 55% of respondents said they will make changes to their wellbeing vendor partners in 2023 or 2024, while 12% already did in 2022.

Point solutions for clinical conditions — such as diabetes, musculoskeletal disease, maternity or fertility — was the second most popular sector employers want to make changes to. About 42% said they are planning changes for point solutions in the next couple of years and 24% made changes in this area in 2022. Additionally, 37% of employers want to change their vendor partners for mental health solutions, including employee assistance programs. Another 24% already made adjustments in their mental health partners last year.

Care navigation is also an area of importance for employers. About 40% of respondents said they’re planning to make changes in the next couple of years in their navigation and advocacy vendor partners, and 12% already have done so. With employers battling point solution fatigue, navigation companies have proven beneficial, said Drew Hodgson, healthcare delivery and national practice leader at WTW, in a previous interview.

“There is an awful lot of vendor fatigue right now,” Hodgson said. “When there are so many point solutions, so much investment in the market, employers’ heads are starting to spin a bit about all the different options available in the market. That’s my point where some of the navigation vendors can come into play as a single point of contact to get them the care they need.”

Cost is a top reason for why employers want to switch up their vendor partners, said Regina Ihrke, senior director and health, equity and wellbeing leader at WTW.

“Employer’s top priorities for their health care strategy are both managing costs and providing a portfolio that meets the diverse needs of their workforce,” Ihrke said in an email. “Vendor partners are a key component to addressing these priorities. As the vendor landscape continues to innovate and evolve, employers look to new vendor solutions for impact and value, and accordingly, employers will actively measure and inspect vendors based on their performance.”

Conversely, fewer employers are looking to make changes to their pharmacy benefit manager: only 23% plan to do so and only 7% did in 2022, the survey found.

Picture: marchmeena29, Getty Images