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Survey finds advanced analytics are important healthcare decision making tool for employers, information gap exists between users and non-users

To gain an understanding of employers’ views on managing health and benefits data, the non-profit National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions* (National Alliance) conducted a survey of healthcare purchasers. Commissioned by Geneia , the poll found 97 percent of HR practitioners agree “now more than ever it’s essential to have tools to effectively evaluate data and make informed decisions.” Most respondents (87 percent) 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.

“Many employers struggle with massive amounts of data and lack the ability to quickly and easily make informed decisions that shape their benefits programs,” said Mike Thompson, National Alliance president and CEO. “And it’s only getting worse as it’s estimated by 2020 we will have 50 times the amount of data that was available in 2011. Gauging the knowledge and interest level of employers enables the National Alliance and its members to make available programs and tools to help purchasers overcome this challenge.”

Additional findings include:

  • 95 percent of respondents are interested in having access to the information that advanced analytics can provide
  • 90 percent of respondents said that near-real-time data is imperative to realizing costs savings
  • 94 percent agree that “healthcare analytics can help me evaluate which wellness programs would be most effective to offer to my employees”
  • 83 percent agree that using advanced analytics to understand how your employees use healthcare services, who your 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 healthcare spend 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 percent), insufficient internal resources (31 percent) and needs already supported by health plan or broker (54 percent)

“Healthcare costs are still growing faster than inflation and are expected to increase 6.5 percent through next year, leaving employers, health plans and consumers struggling to find ways to contain costs without sacrificing quality and benefit design,” said Heather Lavoie, Geneia’s chief strategy officer. “At Geneia, we know that the insight gained through advanced analytic tools offers employers the very real possibility of lowering costs while retaining competitive employee benefit programs. In just 20 minutes on our Theon platform, one Fortune 500 client identified more than $500,000 in medical cost savings along with actionable information to address these cost drivers and improve employee health.”

The online survey of human resource and benefits administrators was conducted in August and September 2016. Of the responses received, 89 percent of employers said they were self-funded, 69 percent work for companies that employ more than 1,000 and 60 percent said they are not current users of advanced analytic tools. Regionally, 50 percent of respondents were from the South, 26 percent were from the Northeast, 15 percent were from the West and 9 percent were from the Midwest.