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Best Practices to Measure Point Solution Value

Have answers regarding “Point Solution Value” that your boss will love.

Point solutions have been a great way to enhance benefits and provide care for a targeted need. 

Large employers and plan sponsors have on average 9+ point solutions as part of their health and wellness benefits.  But as point solution costs add up, the pressure increases to understand, and sometimes PROVE, the value. 

Most firms have programs that help workers identify health issues and manage chronic conditions (health risk assessments, biometric screenings, and health promotion programs). 

83% of large firms offer a program in at least one of these areas: smoking cessation, weight management, and behavioral or lifestyle coaching.

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation study

So, here are three best practices to consider, to deliver business decision-ready analytics, about the value of point solutions.


Best Practice #1: Use a cohort strategy to evaluate point solutions.

  • Cohort comparisons are the ultimate analytic strategy for proving value. Without a direct comparison within the same population, there are so many factors that introduce doubt on what the numbers truly capture. Alternatively, by looking at well defined and specifically differentiated groupings of people, we can directly compare performance take away concrete and specific learnings.

Here are two more pro tips:

  1. Look at related costs across your cohorts: Determine if there is value beyond just the immediate program financials. For instance, we have looked at disability claims, to measure the influence of a point solution program.
  2. Look at related health concerns: Investigate other aspects of wellbeing to see if there are notable halo effects.  For instance, we have investigated if there are mental health differences across maternity program types, short and longer term.

Here’s a good example from our client base: This national retailer wanted to measure the value of a Center of Excellence strategy for heart conditions.  The metric strategy compared a well-defined pair of cohorts that looked beyond traditional utilization and cost metrics.  We helped them also include mortality rates (COE – lower), returns to work (COE – faster), outcomes (COE – better), and company satisfaction (COE – higher).  Yes, that’s right – employees actually reported a higher employee satisfaction rate on the survey following a major episode of care.


Best Practice #2: Ask the right analytic questions.

  • Often “What’s the value?” is the wrong question. The correct question is “Who is this valuable for?” or “What’s the incremental value?”

There will always be a portion of a population that is engaged in their health and wellness. Your data can tell you who this population is, and provide insights that help you identify more people “like them” that you can target and pull along, therefore increasing program value. Also consider if the engaged audience would have been healthy or well without the special program, in some other way. Is it the program – or the people – that are providing the results you see?

Analyze for the big picture and long term.

Choice might be the right choice. The optimal strategy may not be selecting the best performing program in some cases. Use data to confirm if similar point solution programs are engaging the same or different audiences.

One self-funded employer had two somewhat similar wellness point solutions – Solution A emphasized “exercise and feel better.”  Solution B emphasized “Eat right and feel better.”  They both showed value – which one should they keep?  A deeper investigation of the data revealed that the solutions were in fact engaging somewhat different audiences.  The self-funded plan sponsor found they increased the value of BOTH point solutions by understanding the demographic nuances, and creating more targeted communications and incentives that used these insights.

Design Early Indicator metrics. Don’t wait for results (e.g., traditionally after year 3 of data is collected and analyzed).  Design metrics that act as leading indicators.  After year 1, plan to optimize and performance tune.  Move the conversation.  Avoid “Wow – it looks like our MSK program had trouble engaging our guys in the warehouses even after 3 years,… should we look into a different solution or approach?”  Prepare for, “Wow – it looks like our MSK program is having trouble engaging guys in the warehouses – what’s our plan to tackle this as we plan for year 2?”


Best Practice #3: Use ALL the data we have available in today’s analytic world.

  • Understand how social determinants of health influence engagement and utilization.  Then optimize the point solution to meet broader needs by removing barriers.  The data can show you where actions will be impactful.

Leverage solutions that package this data for you. Data that provides insights into social determinants of health can be time consuming to assemble into an analytic environment and then align to member health data. And yet it’s so powerful for insights. Your analysts time is better spent using this data as opposed to prepping it manually.

We evaluated medical and dental claims for diabetics after the introduction of a new Virtual PCP program.  The solution was selected after seeing a statistically significant difference in PCP utilization across various household income segments.  We created a specific scope around diabetics to study impacts on utilization, medication adherence, medical costs, and co-morbidities in mental health.  Not all investigation can rely solely on data.  The task force team worked with “Voice of the Member” groups, formed based on specific demographics. They focused on understanding context and color behind the numbers.  Transportation, time away from work, and caregiving themes arose in the care access category.  Other reasons were also presented, but offered less immediately actionable solutions.

With less time prepping data, the team had more time to dig deep, address quantified specific barriers, and is now measuring impact.



Check out how easy it is to include Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) factors into an analysis.


Easy to use – more time for driving change.


HDMS Enlight makes it easy to put these best practices to work.

Learn more and contact us with any questions.

Trending now

SDoH analytics – Insights we can trust.

Using SDoH insights means we understand and trust the data we use in our analyses.

How do we do that?

SDoH analytics requires a lot of data, and different types of data. Claims data tells us about health care visits. Digital device data tells us about daily health. And special data sets apply what we know in a way that delineates the social and environmental factors that could influence each member.

In SDoH analytics, we understand each person as an individual and in context, but look at a community as a whole in aggregate, to see what trends and patterns emerge.


Here are 5 important aspects to consider, and tips of what to look for, so you can trust the insights in your SDoH analytic endeavors.

  1. How is the data integrated?
  2. How specific and granular is the underlying data?
  3. What is the social determinant being analyzed?
  4. Can you clearly understand the definitions and data sources used for insights?
  5. How trusted is the health data itself?

Let’s dig into some more details on each.


#1 – The data model: How is the data organized and connected together?

  • Wellness means care and lifestyle choices. This data is scattered across many different places. Health analytics must integrate complex claims data structures and lifestyle data at an individual person level. SDoH analytics should also be connected at a person level. This way, the data is ready to serve all the analytic questions you may ask, without additional data preparation and delays.

#2 – Granularity: What level of detail characterizes the data sources used?

  • The more granular a data set is, and assuming it is associated at a member-specific level, the more trustworthy and usable your SDoH insights will be. Think about the variation of social and environmental factors you see across an entire zip code. Now think about the degree of variation you see within a neighborhood. A Census Block Group is akin to a neighborhood. This means if you have source data that has a Census Block Group level of granularity, you are seeing only the degree of variation across neighborhoods, not entire zip codes.

Here are two tips for building out a new solution:

  1. TIP: Find out the options you have around individual member address data. Ask questions about the quality and completeness of these fields. Ideally your solution will have the flexibility to use or assemble the most complete collection of member addresses possible.
  2. TIP: The best solutions offer a member-level integration to at least census block group level.  That associates people to the social and environmental factors known to a neighborhood level of insight.


#3 – Specificity: Which factor are you investigating?

  • Social and environmental factors cover a broad range of influences on health. Air quality or water quality? Economic hardship or transportation access? There is so much we can do if we have lots of different SDoH indices to choose from. For instance, one HDMS client is looing at the transporation index alongside the technology index to assess the potential usefulness and impact of a mobile unit verse a virtual solution for specific care services. Locations with low transporation AND low technology indices are prioritized for mobile services, while other locations are suitable for virtual care alternatives.

Here are two tips for building out a new solution:

  1. TIP: Make sure your solution offers data and SDoH indices that meet broad investigative needs.  Most organizations have many questions and require multiple SDoH indices. In a discovery phase – a few options let users understand opportunities to act impactfully based upon different criteria. 
  2. TIP: Consider ways to allow analytic journeys to mature. Composite indices can be great for initial analysis. As a team starts to work on designing for a barrier or opportunity, a more specific SDoH indice will reveal important nuances or details.




HDMS offers over 25 SDoH indices and dimensions.

Start with composite indices that allow you to look broadly across a number of factors at once.  Use focused indices to support very specific or nuanced investigations, like food access or social isolation.  They can also be used together – for instance the transportation index and the technology index example we shared above.

#4 – Transparency: What are the definitions behind the numbers?

  • Have a good understanding of which social or environmental factor you are investigating and where that index is sourced. There are a wide variety of options. Nothing will be perfect. Some indices are more complete, more granular, more recently or frequently updated, than others. As you interpret results, have transparency around the process leading to the metrics. This will help everyone interpret and apply insights better in the long run.

#5 – All the data: What’s the quality of your core health data sources?

  • As we think about integrating new data to investigate social determinants of health, we naturally focus on the new data – the addition. But we need to link that to core health data. Let’s not forget the quality and usability of those systems or sources. The data quality processes surrounding your traditional analytics are a critical part of trusted SDoH insights.

One last tip:

TIP: Enriching claim data delivers fast and intuitive investigations. This makes SDoH analytics easier too.

Enrichment can have many forms: classify claims by episode treatment groups (ETG), apply pharmaceutical classifications, and flag specialty druges. Enrichment processing also identifies gaps in care and low value care and makes it easy to surface these individual moments into analytics.

ER visits that have been classified using the NYU methodology allow you to quickly look at who visited the ER for non-emergent care, just by using a few filters.  Now think how powerful it is to further see these visits by income index.



Check out how easy it is to include Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) factors into an analysis.


Easy to use – more time for driving change.


HDMS Enlight offers the most comprehensive out of the box SDoH analytics on the market.

Learn more and contact us with any questions.

Trending now

Best Practices to Measure Point Solution Value

Have answers regarding “Point Solution Value” that your boss will love.

Point solutions have been a great way to enhance benefits and provide care for a targeted need. 

Large employers and plan sponsors have on average 9+ point solutions as part of their health and wellness benefits.  But as point solution costs add up, the pressure increases to understand, and sometimes PROVE, the value. 

Most firms have programs that help workers identify health issues and manage chronic conditions (health risk assessments, biometric screenings, and health promotion programs). 

83% of large firms offer a program in at least one of these areas: smoking cessation, weight management, and behavioral or lifestyle coaching.

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation study

So, here are three best practices to consider, to deliver business decision-ready analytics, about the value of point solutions.


Best Practice #1: Use a cohort strategy to evaluate point solutions.

  • Cohort comparisons are the ultimate analytic strategy for proving value. Without a direct comparison within the same population, there are so many factors that introduce doubt on what the numbers truly capture. Alternatively, by looking at well defined and specifically differentiated groupings of people, we can directly compare performance take away concrete and specific learnings.

Here are two more pro tips:

  1. Look at related costs across your cohorts: Determine if there is value beyond just the immediate program financials. For instance, we have looked at disability claims, to measure the influence of a point solution program.
  2. Look at related health concerns: Investigate other aspects of wellbeing to see if there are notable halo effects.  For instance, we have investigated if there are mental health differences across maternity program types, short and longer term.

Here’s a good example from our client base: This national retailer wanted to measure the value of a Center of Excellence strategy for heart conditions.  The metric strategy compared a well-defined pair of cohorts that looked beyond traditional utilization and cost metrics.  We helped them also include mortality rates (COE – lower), returns to work (COE – faster), outcomes (COE – better), and company satisfaction (COE – higher).  Yes, that’s right – employees actually reported a higher employee satisfaction rate on the survey following a major episode of care.


Best Practice #2: Ask the right analytic questions.

  • Often “What’s the value?” is the wrong question. The correct question is “Who is this valuable for?” or “What’s the incremental value?”

There will always be a portion of a population that is engaged in their health and wellness. Your data can tell you who this population is, and provide insights that help you identify more people “like them” that you can target and pull along, therefore increasing program value. Also consider if the engaged audience would have been healthy or well without the special program, in some other way. Is it the program – or the people – that are providing the results you see?

Analyze for the big picture and long term.

Choice might be the right choice. The optimal strategy may not be selecting the best performing program in some cases. Use data to confirm if similar point solution programs are engaging the same or different audiences.

One self-funded employer had two somewhat similar wellness point solutions – Solution A emphasized “exercise and feel better.”  Solution B emphasized “Eat right and feel better.”  They both showed value – which one should they keep?  A deeper investigation of the data revealed that the solutions were in fact engaging somewhat different audiences.  The self-funded plan sponsor found they increased the value of BOTH point solutions by understanding the demographic nuances, and creating more targeted communications and incentives that used these insights.

Design Early Indicator metrics. Don’t wait for results (e.g., traditionally after year 3 of data is collected and analyzed).  Design metrics that act as leading indicators.  After year 1, plan to optimize and performance tune.  Move the conversation.  Avoid “Wow – it looks like our MSK program had trouble engaging our guys in the warehouses even after 3 years,… should we look into a different solution or approach?”  Prepare for, “Wow – it looks like our MSK program is having trouble engaging guys in the warehouses – what’s our plan to tackle this as we plan for year 2?”


Best Practice #3: Use ALL the data we have available in today’s analytic world.

  • Understand how social determinants of health influence engagement and utilization.  Then optimize the point solution to meet broader needs by removing barriers.  The data can show you where actions will be impactful.

Leverage solutions that package this data for you. Data that provides insights into social determinants of health can be time consuming to assemble into an analytic environment and then align to member health data. And yet it’s so powerful for insights. Your analysts time is better spent using this data as opposed to prepping it manually.

We evaluated medical and dental claims for diabetics after the introduction of a new Virtual PCP program.  The solution was selected after seeing a statistically significant difference in PCP utilization across various household income segments.  We created a specific scope around diabetics to study impacts on utilization, medication adherence, medical costs, and co-morbidities in mental health.  Not all investigation can rely solely on data.  The task force team worked with “Voice of the Member” groups, formed based on specific demographics. They focused on understanding context and color behind the numbers.  Transportation, time away from work, and caregiving themes arose in the care access category.  Other reasons were also presented, but offered less immediately actionable solutions.

With less time prepping data, the team had more time to dig deep, address quantified specific barriers, and is now measuring impact.



Check out how easy it is to include Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) factors into an analysis.


Easy to use – more time for driving change.


HDMS Enlight makes it easy to put these best practices to work.

Learn more and contact us with any questions.

Spotlight

Analytic Spotlight: Abortion Services

The recent supreme court ruling overturning Roe vs. Wade has HR teams all across the country assessing impact and planning for shifts in member benefits both short and long term.

As legislation changes, employers naturally wish to review in depth how it impacts their workforce.  

Read specifics around the analytics available to provide relevant facts for informed decisions and quantified planning. 

Our data shows highest abortion service utilization by women of child-bearing age are on our plan as ‘Employee only’ or ‘Employee with dependents’ (18-19 claimants/1000). Now we have specifics for next steps.

HDMS client

HDMS clients – ask your team if you are interested in additional analytics surrounding abortion services. We will make sure you have access to the types of metrics and dashboards that best support your business questions and benefits strategy.



Healthcare is changing. A health data and analytics platform puts you in charge.


Easy access to answers.
Even when the questions change.

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Webinar

Right Data, Right Time: A 360-Degree View on Health & Wellness

On-Demand Webinar Details:

Today, population health solutions are defined as the health outcomes and indicators of a community. In reality, the full story can only be told if we include social influences, economic situations, physical environments and mental behavioral outcomes. Gaining a more complete view of a population through a variety of non-traditional data sources will have a significant positive impact on the Triple Aim.

The Timmaron Group, using advanced health data analytics powered by HDMS, has developed a successful approach for bridging the gap between an environment of incomplete and disparate data to a transformative action playbook. The result is a 360-degree community view of members, providers and populations that identifies opportunities to improve the quality of care, provider effectiveness and overall lower health care costs.

Attendees will learn how the vision of a 360-degree community view can be developed and implemented based on lessons from real-life examples and use-cases including both financial and health outcome results.

Speaker: Barbara D. Stinnett, Technology & Healthcare Operating Executive, Timmaron Group

Spotlight

Infographic: Use Data to Design Effective Preventative Screening Programs

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White Papers

Preventive Care Starts with the Annual Wellness Exam

For most people, the term “Preventive Care” suggests age appropriate cancer screenings, flu shots and childhood vaccinations. What about appropriate regular monitoring of symptoms that prevents the worsening of a chronic illness? Or timely interventions that reduce or prevent complications due to a medication or a stressful life event?

Preventive care is a much broader concept that includes (but not limited to) activities that lead to the overall reduction of adverse events (e.g. fewer life-threatening complications due to a chronic illness) and the promotion of overall health in the entire population.

The “Annual Wellness Exam” (aka Annual Physical, Annual check-up, Health Maintenance Visit, Preventive Care Visit, etc.) is perhaps one of the most underutilized benefits in a health plan even though it is available at no out-of-pocket cost to the covered individual (with most federal, state and commercial plans).

Getting an Annual Wellness Exam regularly offers two main advantages:

  • An individual who does not proactively seek care (often referred to as a “non-utilizer”) gets monitored for any new and/or existing physical and emotional problems, assessed for various risks and guided to close relevant care gaps (e.g. BMI, Mammogram, Blood Pressure check)
  • Establishes a relationship between the member (including his/ her family) and the Primary Care Provider (PCP)’s office making it more likely for the PCP to be the first point of contact for any health issue - rather than an Urgent Care or ER

From a Payer (Employer, Health Plan, other) and Provider (individual Physician, Group Practice, Health System, other) standpoint, there is also a financial advantage in ensuring all members get a Wellness Exam every year as described below.

What does the data show?

In looking at the Professional component of medical claims data for the last 3 years, HDMS saw an overwhelming trend among our customers.  We classified members into two groups:

  • Those that HAD received an Annual Wellness Exam during the reporting year
  • Those that had NOT had an Annual Wellness Exam during the reporting year

Adult members in both groups were then compared for ER Utilization, particularly for Avoidable ER usage using the NYU Emergent Status & AHRQ Prevention Quality Indicator (PQI) methodologies.

The results showed:

  • Members who have NOT had an Annual Wellness Exam within the last reporting year, consistently incurred higher overall Cost AND higher number of Visits to the ER for complaints (conditions) that are classified as: “Non-Emergent”, “Primary Care Appropriate” and “Preventable/ Avoidable.”
  • There were a higher number of members WITHOUT an Annual Wellness Exam within the last reporting year, with one or more visits to the ER for diagnoses, that qualify as “Ambulatory Care Sensitive Conditions”

What does this mean?

These reports show a clear pattern. Members who get an Annual Wellness Exam are less likely to use the ER for conditions that can be treated and/ or managed at a less expensive site of care. Hence, it is in the best interest of the organization to encourage and incent all their members to establish a relationship with a PCP and get regular Wellness exams.

White Papers

A Data-Smart Approach to Employee Benefits Management and Preventative Care

As healthcare costs continue to increase, more employers and health plans are evaluating the impact of their health and wellness benefits – including the effectiveness of preventive screenings.

Three out of five U.S. employers use health screenings and risk assessments to screen for expensive chronic conditions, such as cancer.1 Yet, 79 percent of large U.S. employers and 44 percent of mid-sized employers do not measure the effectiveness of employee wellness programs, including preventive screenings.2

With the cost of employee health benefits expected to rise 5 percent in 2019, it is critical that employers and health plans develop a data-centric approach to measuring the effectiveness of preventive screenings.3

How Data Insight Strengthens Preventive Cancer Screening Outcomes

Analytics inform a high-value approach for health benefits design by providing employers and health plans insights into opportunities for targeted interventions that reduce costs and improve health. Data analytics also help avoid “one-size-fits-most” solutions that may not be a good fi t given member and provider characteristics.

Increasingly, analytics are used to track outcomes of preventive care. For example, a recent study examined the impact of preventive cervical cancer screenings and showed these eff orts resulted in substantially lower deaths and increased lifespans.4

Analytics can also help employers and health plans prioritize preventive cancer screening offerings. Criteria might include:

  • Risk factors such as high proportions of members who are overweight, have high cholesterol or high blood sugar levels, or smoke.
  • Regional health trends that may point to potential socioeconomic-based risks for members, like higher-than-average prevalence rates of lung cancer or heart disease. For example, 6.2 percent of Ohio’s population has heart disease, even as rates across the nation dropped.5
  • Evidence of possible “hot spots” within a plan sponsor membership. For instance, analytics show certain locations where employers and health plans should focus eff orts on encouraging preventative cancer screenings (member education, onsite clinic involvement, etc.).

The analysis of claims data – as well as socioeconomic data that might be available from state and regional health organizations – can provide powerful insights in developing a high-value approach to preventative cancer screening health benefits for members that improves outcomes.

Case Study: Measure the Impact of Preventive Cancer Screenings

Employers and health plans can demonstrate success through data analytics by determining the impact of preventative cancer screenings on access to treatment, risk and costs of care.

For example, a state health plan covering around 205,000 employees and dependents set out to identify the rate at which members were diagnosed with cancer after undergoing preventive screenings for breast, colorectal and cervical cancers.

For the overall state population, new cases of colorectal and cervical cancer have been decreasing while new cases of breast cancer are increasing. However, analysis of claims data for the state health plan differs for state employees:

  • While the rate of newly diagnosed cases of breast cancer remained steady, it was higher than the state average.
  • The number of new cases of colorectal and cervical cancer among state employees increased; however, the rate of occurrences was lower than the state average.

By collaborating with HDMS experts, the state health plan created episode-based analysis groups, or cohorts, to assess compliance with preventive screenings compared to national guidelines and measure the impact of such screenings on early cancer detection and treatment.

Members in the episode-based analysis group included those who were newly diagnosed with breast, colorectal and cervical cancers as well as those who had been identified as having a recurring cancer diagnosis within two years of initial detection of the cancers. The results were enlightening:

Increased early diagnosis. The majority of new cases of breast, colorectal and cervical cancer were initially diagnosed following preventive screenings:

  • Preventive screenings were associated with 80% of new cases of breast cancer among plan members.
  • Among members who received preventive screenings, 11% received additional treatments – and not just for cancer (e.g., removal of benign tumors or polyps).
  • Cervical cancer screenings helped identify women who need additional testing to detect or rule out uterine or ovarian cancer.

Decreased risk. The study showed early diagnosis of cancer through preventive screenings was associated with significantly reduced members’ risk scores. Members who were diagnosed earlier through preventive screening had significantly lower concurrent risk scores compared to other members with the same type of cancer. Higher risk scores are typically associated with members with later stages of cancer that require more complex treatment.

Specifically, members diagnosed with breast cancer through preventive screenings had an average risk score of less than 1.00 while members diagnosed outside of preventive screenings had average risk scores from 5.88 to 6.53. Similarly, members diagnosed with cervical cancer through preventive screenings had average risk scores of 1.00 while those diagnosed later exhibited risk scores of 3.31 to 4.22.

Reduced costs of care. Analysis also revealed the impact of preventive screenings in lower costs of care. The cost of treating breast and cervical cancer for women identified by preventive screening was lower on average.6

Optimize Value Through Claims Analysis

The results showcase the power of using data to measure the effectiveness of preventive screenings. When employers and health plans leverage claims and socioeconomic data analysis to refine their approach to benefits design, they are more empowered to reduce costs and improve outcomes.

 

Download Whitepaper

 

  1. “Top 10 Health Conditions Costing Employers the Most,” Employee Benefit News, Feb. 9, 2018, https://www.benefitnews.com/slideshow/top-10-healthconditions-costing-employers-the-most
  2. Desai, P., “Why Health Screening Programs Fail and What Employers Can Do About It,” Corporate Wellness Magazine, https://www.corporatewellnessmagazine.com/worksite-wellness/health-screening-programs-fail/
  3. https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/benefits/pages/employers-adjust-health-benefits-for-2019.aspx
  4. Kim, J.J., Burger, E.A., Regan, C., et al., “Screening for Cervical Cancer in Primary Care: A Decision Analysis for the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force,” JAMA, Aug. 21, 2018, https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2697702
  5. “Heart Disease Hotspots: 14 States with Highest Rates,” CBS News, https://www.cbsnews.com/pictures/heart-disease-hotspots-14-states-with-highest-rates/
  6. HDMS proprietary data