Benefits

Advanced Analytics Important for Employer Health Benefit Decisions

Eighty-three percent of HR practitioners say using advanced analytics to understand how employees use health care services, who high-risk employees are and how to intervene effectively is the only way to lower costs and improve financial results.

By Rebecca Moore editors@plansponsor.com | October 13, 2016

Ninety-seven percent of human resources (HR) practitioners agree "now more than ever it's essential to have tools to effectively evaluate data and make informed decisions," according to a survey by the non-profit National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions.

Most respondents (87%) say they are familiar with advanced analytics, but current users have a stronger understanding of how this kind of tool helps aggregate data, control spending, and manage health and wellness programs.

Employers that can see more claims data will have more information about what drives the costs of the plan. A report from the American Health Policy Institute suggests that managing high-cost claimants, specifically, is critical to reducing health benefits costs.

The National Alliance found that 95% of respondents are interested in having access to the information that advanced analytics can provide. Ninety percent said that near-real-time data is imperative to realizing costs savings.

In addition, 94% agree that "healthcare analytics can help me evaluate which wellness programs would be most effective to offer to my employees." Eighty-three percent agree that using advanced analytics to understand how employees use health care services, who high-risk employees are, and how to intervene effectively is the only way to lower costs and improve financial results.

When asked about what data and reports would be helpful, the top three responses were data on the number of employees regularly visiting the emergency department but who have not seen their primary care doctor in the last year; timely data on percentage of pre-diabetic employees who have not seen their primary care doctor in the last year; and an evaluation of their company's health care spending against similarly sized companies in their industry or region.

Of respondents who were not currently using advanced analytics tools, the perceived barriers to use were cost (38%), insufficient internal resources (31%) and needs already supported by health plan or broker (54%).

Willis Towers Watson has found that more companies are looking into captive arrangements—in which a firm establishes its own insurance program—as a strategic tool to manage risk and benefit costs proactively and to analyze claim data to identify and address key cost drivers.

The National Alliance survey of human resource and benefits administrators was conducted in August and September 2016. Of the responses received, 89% of employers said they were self-funded, 69% work for companies that employ more than 1,000 employees and 60% said they are not current users of advanced analytic tools.

SPONSORED MESSAGES