The Longitudinal Nature of Employee Benefits

Our current healthcare system is in the midst of a shift towards a more essential intent, concentrating on population health management.

Emerging Solutions to Create Greater Results

Our current healthcare system is in the midst of a shift towards a more essential intent, concentrating on population health management. Long gone are the days of simply focusing on an occurrence of sickness. As big data and technology stream into the market, the ability to see more clearly what is occurring at both the micro and macro level creates an ecosystem of healthcare knowledge never seen before.

New, innovative solutions that were once veiled are now being brought into the light of possibility. Ever more critical to this new era is the need to engage the employee/end-user/patient as part of the transition process. Effective communication strategies crafted with the greatest level of employee receptivity must be kept in mind. Due to the level of complexities in healthcare, constant monitoring of the data is required to see the shifts in patterns and to alter plans accordingly. Perhaps however, the most critically important element in execution, is to remain inside the lines of regulation on “all things benefits.” This is an area of great complexity and visibility. Left unchecked, the potential of exposure to the employer is substantial and potentially punitive. 

Tying all of these elements together in an integrated and cohesive strategy can yield three significant benefits of value: 1) A reduction of overall employee benefits costs; 2) Greater degrees of employee engagement; and 3) An increase in corporate value.

Integrating data analytics at all levels provides the much-needed information to discover and create solution patterns that redefine employee benefits. The key is to focus heavily on data sets and patterns that are relevant, all while staying disciplined to strip away the non-essential information. Receiving data that moves the needle at the individual level helps foster innovative solutions that create improvement and undeniable results. At the employee level, it is critical to know where you are, learn your next steps and execute those steps through employer-sponsored tools provided at the right time – personal, relevant, accessible information for decision-making when it is needed most. At the macro employer level, the data should be monitored to view key performance indicators, in-turn helping develop solutions, determine the needed resources and gauge the results.

Decisions, Decisions

As individuals, we make hundreds of healthcare decisions every day. Providing the right solutions at the right time is a matter of leveraging technology and data while delivering effective messaging to your employee population. Solutions founded in data patterns reduce the “guessing game” of healthcare delivery. Historically, health insurance products have come bundled, oftentimes including coverages that have little to no impact. With the transparency now being created by data, much of the waste is eliminated and results subsequently improve, be it in the area of claims, employee engagement or the overall health of the employee. 

For any given population, data and patterns may reveal the need for widely different solutions. For example, some may require strong smoking cessation education and support while others may be in need of diabetes management. The needs vary, and as such, unbundling solutions and using only those that the data reveals are essential to reducing the “irrelevant spend.” This, then, can provide additional financial resources for coaching employees into healthier lifestyles, yielding greater results and enhanced employee engagement. 

Painting Inside The Lines

Today’s level of employer-employee engagement is complex and requires continual analysis. The infrastructures afforded to individuals are emerging all around us in the form of wearable devices and interactive platforms that can enhance an employer’s ability to evaluate and further engage employees onto a path of better health. Understanding how to effectively “paint inside the lines” of data privacy in this new ecosystem can be tricky, since much of the emerging strategies push the boundaries of patient protection and regulatory compliance. Creating these strategies with guardrails that protect the individual while correspondingly offering personal solutions, requires precise delivery and flawless execution. In short, proceed with caution and solicit appropriate compliance consultation.

Data analytics at the micro and macro level provides insight with which an employer can reallocate resources to areas of greater importance. This, in turn, produces far greater results. Delivering relevant solutions based on data and employing technology and communication strategies to support their delivery is more authentic, and as such, fosters a greater degree of employee engagement. This drives corporate value. Healthcare is a moving target inside a highly complex system and requires patience in execution as we embrace a more longitudinal approach. The quick fixes of yesterday have only yielded the results we have today and vast emerging solutions in the market represent seeds of optimism for the future of healthcare. 

About tchristopherLabrecquehe Author

Christopher Labrecque currently serves as the managing partner of the Employee Benefits Group at Insurance Office of America and can be reached at Chris.Labrecque@ioausa.com

This article appears in the July 2015 issue of i4 Business.
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