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Four Steps for Using Data to Better Manage Your Point Solution Ecosystem

HR leaders managing an ever-growing number of healthcare point solutions often struggle to demonstrate their value and cost efficiency, much less prove that they’re outperforming peers.

That’s changing, however, with the evolution of measurement strategies that help quantify the impact of employer-sponsored healthcare programs on employee health outcomes. Every time employees use your healthcare programs, they generate valuable data about who is using them and how they are using them. By analyzing that data and adopting a continuous improvement framework, HR leaders can make better decisions for the workforce and for the business.

Learn about the four steps to understanding and articulating the integrated value of your point solution ecosystem.

Step 1. Define Relevant Goals and Metrics

For each solution in your ecosystem, set clear goals, and identify relevant metrics for tracking success. As you consider introducing new solutions, define success metrics upfront to evaluate how they might impact your overall programs.

A mental health program’s goals, for example, could be to reduce spending on preventable events (such as short-term disability), to offer better access to care for members and increase productivity. Sample metrics for a mental health program would include:

  • Shifts in mental health-related medical and pharmacy services utilization
  • Improvements in wait times for employees seeking to access providers
  • Improvements in employee satisfaction surveys
  • Changes in absenteeism, leave, and short- and long-term disability claims
  • Reductions in safety-related events due to illness
  • Trends in presenteeism, active engagement and performance
  • Changes in voluntary employee turnover 

With a clear idea of which data points to track and how they demonstrate return on investment, you can paint a picture of each point solution’s value to the business.

Step 2. Differentiate Between Engagement and Impact

Measure and analyze engagement and impact across your solutions at the population level. Engagement refers to who is using your solutions, while impact refers to whether the program achieves the declared goals. By tracking who uses each solution and who does not, you can consider how the user population’s characteristics affect the program’s impact or find opportunities to improve performance.

For example, a musculoskeletal health solution may generate excellent outcomes for some engaged participants. But if the members engaging with the program are predominantly younger individuals with less complex concerns, the solution may resonate with a small group but be less meaningful across your full population. With nearly 80 percent of healthcare spend concentrated in only 15 percent of members, you need members with higher acuity musculoskeletal disorders to engage.

Broad averages across all employees often cloud important underlying patterns. But understanding how each segment of a population engages and benefits from a solution is critical to assessing performance, identifying gaps, and pinpointing potential improvements.

Step 3. Track Data Comprehensively and Consistently Over Time

Collect consistent data across your healthcare ecosystem, and partner with vendors capable of supporting your measurement strategy over time. Keep things simple: Measuring three to five of the highest-impact key performance indicators across cost, quality and member engagement/experience is more valuable than going after hundreds of detailed metrics and reports — especially if those metrics aren't consistent from one program to another.

Make sure you understand and agree with how each program reports results. It’s not uncommon to see programs use loose criteria for “engagement” or to exclude hard to impact populations such as complex / high-cost claimants rules when reporting impact. Those inconsistencies can significantly affect the results or how you interpret the results.

Track and organize data over time instead of relying on “snapshot” reports. Long-term data collection reveals usage trends that are more reliable and minimize “noise.” Organizing data consistently within a data warehouse or integrated reporting platform enables apples-to-apples measurements across vendors and time periods. With these insights, HR leaders can make better workforce healthcare decisions and invest in point solutions with proven and sustained impact.

Step 4. Benchmark Against Broader Markets

How you compare your data is as important as how you collect it. Don’t limit your analysis to a comparison against past internal outcomes. Look at broader market trends and best-in-class performance to gauge how your organization stacks up against peers in the market.

Your inpatient admissions may be incrementally lower than last year, for example. But is this due to your programs or are your point solutions taking credit for broad market trends such as the shift to outpatient care? By comparing data against appropriate benchmark populations, you can get an accurate read on the long-term performance of point solutions and understand if your investments are keeping pace with the market. Health delivery models evolve quickly, and programs that were cutting edge five years ago may no longer justify a premium price.

Invest in an analytics strategy that provides the market data you need to benchmark your point solution ecosystem against your competitors. When you can see clear outcomes for each point solution, you can make better decisions and prioritize programs with the highest potential for positive impact.

Think Big, Start Small

HR leaders face enormous challenges in managing a growing number of healthcare point solutions, often struggling to demonstrate cost efficiency and value and rarely succeeding in outperforming peers.

However, the game is changing with the rise of measurement strategies that quantify the impact of employer-sponsored healthcare programs--leveraging data generated by employees using these programs--on their health outcomes. Adopting a continuous improvement framework, coupled with ongoing data analysis, helps HR leaders make informed decisions for their workforce and business.