A critical component of a successful health & wellbeing program is the appropriate use of data and analytics.
It has been said that data is inherently dumb. If not correctly collected or analyzed, numbers can lead you down the wrong path.
Let’s look at a company that conducts an employee interest survey to determine the needs and interests of employees. Based on the results, the employer selects the type of rewards, program offerings, and modes of communication. However, the most critical question is, how representative of the population is the data they collect? If only a small percentage of employees choose to complete the survey, the company may make a misguided decision and create a program that is only meaningful and relevant to a small portion of the population.
It’s imperative to determine who the individuals are that respond and who does not. Often, employees that are already actively engaged in the workplace and participate in corporate programs regularly are the same group that chooses to complete the survey. Perhaps the survey is delivered electronically, so only employees in an administrative role complete the survey. It’s critical to examine the barriers that may result in low participation, engagement, morale and lack of trust. Identifying the reason employees do not participate in a survey can be more informative and valid than examining the survey results of a smaller group of participants.
As the cost of healthcare skyrockets, there is an increased emphasis on corporate health and wellbeing programs and incorporating data and analytics into your strategy is imperative.
We’ve compiled 5 best practices to keep in mind when incorporating data and analytics to strengthen your health & wellbeing program:
Analyze Health Risks and Cost Drivers
If you are self-funded, you should have access to both medical and prescription claims data. Determining your greatest health risks and largest cost drivers can serve as a benchmark for your program and guide the types of programs and interventions to offer. Be mindful of large claimants. While there are large dollar amounts attached to these conditions, the occurrence may be a one-off and not a reoccurring or prevalent issue. The advantage of claims analysis is that the data is all inclusive of those on the health plan. There is no self-selection. If you do not have access to this kind of data, clients can also reference health risk assessment data or biometric screening data. It’s rare for a company to have 100% employee participation, but some data is better than none. Take note of trends associated with certain locations or departments that have lower participation. This data can be telling in terms of other issues such as management and employee engagement.
Your claims data may indicate low health risk now, especially if your workforce is younger, but with increased age comes increased health risk. While there may be little indication through claims data of existing health issues, projecting health risk and cost based on workforce demographics and biometric screening data can help craft a long-term strategy to mitigate future risk.
For organizations without the luxury of a younger, healthier workforce, the data may indicate a multitude of issues. Unfortunately, your budget is not always as abundant. Solicit a partner who can help stratify health risk and condition severity. Rather than feel overwhelmed with the abundance of challenges, prioritize the conditions and risk factors you address based on severity.
Measure Program Impact
Data analysis can be conducted in a variety of ways to indicate program impact.
- Same population comparisons: look at the same cohort of employees who have participated over some time.
- Participant and non-program participant comparisons: assess utilization patterns, per member costs and health status.
- Cost analysis: conducted to compare overall company health risk and costs year to year. Note: this does not adjust for employee turnover, but an improved work environment that promotes health & wellbeing attracts employees that value health & wellbeing and are more likely to take better care of their health!
Collect Employee Feedback
Some corporate health programs take time to yield measurable results related to reduced health risk and healthcare costs. Determine other metrics and means of data collection that can indicate you are on the right track:
- Employee participation: employees that are actively involved in decision-making processes, rather than taking orders. This helps to empower the employees at work.
- Employee satisfaction: how content, satisfied and happy employees are with their jobs and work environment.
- Employee engagement: how passionate employees are about their jobs, loyalty toward the organization, and are motivated to do more than the bare minimum necessary to keep their jobs.
- Employee referrals: the number of times employees recommend candidates from their own social networks to apply for a job at the organization.
Each of these metrics indicates a likelihood that your program is “working.” If employees are using the program, they like the program, and they are recommending the program, the program is more likely to yield measurable results pertaining to health & wellbeing, or perhaps other areas such as performance and presenteeism.
The first step to utilizing data and analytics in the development of your health & wellbeing strategy is making sure to understand how to collect and interpret the data correctly. Many companies are devoting entire departments to measure wellbeing initiatives, so the earlier you can help your organization move in the right direction, the better. Connect with your OneDigital consultant to find out how you can use health analytics to align your health & wellbeing strategy to your organization’s greater goals.