Guest blog from Chad Epperson, Director, Health Management Analytics, Viverae
Ignorance may be bliss, but it’s not going to tell you how your wellness program is performing or shed any light on what you can do to improve it. That’s where data, reporting, and analytics comes in. The good news is, most wellness program providers offer at least some sort of report. The bad news is making heads or tails out of all those numbers and statistics can be a bit intimidating, especially for the uninitiated.
But fear not. You don’t have to have a black belt in analytics to decipher those reports. Some of the most revealing insights can be discovered by simply focusing on a few high-level areas:
Every time a member logs in, performs an action within the wellness portal, or checks off a requirement, it’s recorded in our database. While many employers want to know how many members completed the program and qualified for the incentive (if offered), taking a closer look at how they got there can help you cater your program to your workforce.
Are employees engaged throughout the entire program year? Or do they complete the requirements in a few weeks and then move on? Which activities keep participants coming back? Which activities fall short? Answering these questions and understanding your population’s preferences can help you come up with new ideas to maximize engagement in the program.
The key to a healthier workforce is addressing risk factors and chronic conditions head-on, then proactively engaging your employees to do something about them. Risk data helps identify which risks and conditions affect your workplace, which is the first step in successfully addressing them.
Perhaps you’ll discover that diabetes is the number one offender. Or maybe you’re in a stressful industry and high blood pressure is a common issue. Once you know, you can modify your program to support members who are affected to help them take control of their health.
For example, you may decide to incorporate challenges that specifically address these conditions, encourage health coaching, or even incentivize targeted programs related to those health risks.
Risk data can also help you see how members are improving from year to year, which is a great way to evaluate the effectiveness of your wellness program.
Saving money never goes out of style. And every employer wants to address rising healthcare costs. Studying claims data is one of the best ways to see how your program affects your bottom line. It also provides an excellent way to compare program participants to non-participants. But the cost numbers only tell a part of the story.
When most employers see these numbers, they’re surprised to see that initially, claims costs are sometimes higher for program participants than for non-participants. But it makes sense when you consider that participants are visiting their physicians and completing routine preventive care exams, which they may not have otherwise carried out.
Non-participants, on the other hand, typically underutilize these services or don’t complete them at all, resulting in unpredictable trends and expensive medical claims further down the road.
Claims data also helps identify gaps in care—differences between recommended exams and tests based on risk and conditions—and the services that are actually provided. Closing these gaps through specific exams and tests can improve your employees’ health and mitigate catastrophic events, which ultimately manages your overall healthcare spend.
Bringing It Together
While shooting from the hip may work out pretty good for Clint Eastwood, the rest of us make decisions based on data. Individually, these focus areas can provide some useful information, but when taken all together, they provide some eye-opening insights about how your program is performing, and help identify areas and/or populations where you can make strategic decisions to support improvement.
You can dive deeper into the numbers, but understanding these high-level points provides a solid foundation to get you on your way to making smart, informed decisions about where to take your wellness program in the future.