Employers Look to Research to Inform Health Benefits Decisions

June 22, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Employers are aware of comparative effectiveness research (CER) and its potential to answer critical questions about health care, according to a new survey and white paper released by the National Pharmaceutical Council.

In particular, employers will be looking to the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) as their most trusted source of this information, a press release said. At 76%, PCORI—the private, non-profit corporation created by the health reform law to develop and fund CER—was chosen by more employers than any other potential resource as the most reliable and trusted source for CER information, followed by health plan partners (56%), employee benefit consultants (48%), and health care coalition meetings/presentations (39%).   

The survey found employers expect that CER findings will help them achieve health improvement and cost management goals. Nearly one in four respondents indicated that the potential to improve decisions is “Very Strong.”    

When posed with hypothetical CER findings on low back pain and diabetes, employers indicated high willingness to apply the information to: 

  • Educate and equip employees to make better decisions (73% back pain; 80% diabetes); 
  • Ask health plans to change coverage and pharmacy benefits managers to change the formulary based on CER evidence (55% and 44%, respectively, for back pain; 66% and 73%, respectively, for diabetes); and 
  • Align incentives toward more effective treatment options (53% back pain; 72% diabetes). 


The survey, conducted by the Benfield Group on behalf of NPC, also demonstrated that employers hope CER will provide more answers about workplace productivity.   Less than one-third of employers (or their vendors) currently use information about absence, disability and return to work in assessing the impact of various treatments, yet 70% indicate that such information would be “Important” or “Very Important” within CER.    

According to the press release, employers indicated that they are ready to support advocacy for information about workplace-relevant outcomes in CER.  Of those who thought of workplace outcomes in CER as “Important” or “Very Important,” 93% said they would encourage their health benefit design vendor partners to advocate for inclusion in CER, and 85% would encourage employer health organizations to do so.    

View the complete survey results and white paper at http://www.npcnow.org/ceremployersurvey.