Employer Solutions | 3 months ago

Pillars of Healthcare - Benchmarking

With a rapidly growing collection of healthcare plan options available and an increasingly demanding audience of employees seeking a personalized approach to their care, some companies may question whether they are offering a package that truly covers all the bases.

By Daniel J. Birach, President, HEALTHWORKS Division, Carolinas HealthCare System

With a rapidly growing collection of healthcare plan options available and an increasingly demanding audience of employees seeking a personalized approach to their care, some companies may question whether they are offering a package that truly covers all the bases.

As we work with clients to develop a healthcare program that works best for their team, we have seen a pattern emerge in the companies that are most successful in their efforts. These organizations ensure that their wellness programs provide coverage in each of the five areas we call the pillars of healthcare. Earlier this month we talked about the importance of flexibility. Today we’ll take a look at the second critical pillar in your healthcare program: benchmarking.

Heathcare Pillar TwoBenchmarking

Employees need access to proper nutrition, exercise and regular visits to their healthcare provider. But all the work done in those areas should be based on a few key data points that can help reduce an employer’s overall cost of care.

Biometric ScreeningsEasily administered once a year, either on-site or at a local lab, biometric screenings involve taking a blood sample and a few measurements and using them to identify key health markers for each employee. Following their screening, employees receive a report that shows where they stand in terms of key health conditions and what areas of their health may be at risk. This allows the employee to take a personalized approach to his or her healthcare. One staff member may need to reduce the amount of salt in his or her diet, while another may need to be more active.

At the same time, this employee data is confidentially collected to provide employers with a broad picture of the health of their company. Information is shown as an aggregate report with no names or personal health information identified. Not only can this inform them of which healthcare options are most useful to their staff (for example, if there is a large number of employees who are prediabetic, on-site nutrition counseling may be beneficial), it can also identify the high cost, high risk employees. As the health of employees improves, it becomes easier to negotiate more attractive rates resulting in cost savings for employers and employees.

Health SurveysHealth surveys allow employees to share insight into their views and knowledge of various health topics. They also provide a forum for staff to share current health conditions in a confidential manner. In addition to providing more data that can be used in the rate negotiation process, these surveys can help employers identify potential health deficiencies among their staff members as a whole that can be addressed through healthcare resources.

Claims Data—How employees use their insurance can provide companies with valuable insight into where dollars should be focused. Reviewing insurance claim data shows what medical and pharmacy expenses are incurred. Understanding where dollars are being spent can be very helpful in projecting future expenses as well as identifying which resources, programs and tools will be of most use to a team.

Wellness Outcomes ReportAs important as it can be to know what resources your staff needs, it is just as important to monitor what tools they actually use and how the health of your staff is improving based on those tools. By discussing health outcomes in aggregate form, an employer can identify what programs are most effective and what may need to be added to the program. If they are barely utilizing a free nutrition coaching program, the company may choose to pursue a different format. If many employees are utilizing and seeing positive health changes through a virtual health coaching service, the company may choose to invest more heavily in this resource.

In addition, by tracking these outcomes over time, employers can see their current wellness plan’s ROI.

Benchmarks are an invaluable tool to identify where your staff currently sits in terms of overall health. They also offer immense value over time as follow-up marks show trends in your team’s health and well-being. Share how your organization uses data to track your company’s health on Twitter (@HEALTHWORKS) and on LinkedIn. And keep watching the Info Hub. In our next post, we’ll talk about the third pillar of successful healthcare: one-on-one guidance.