Big data and healthcare analytics are reshaping the way companies think about workplace benefits. Technology has become incredibly effective at analyzing healthcare information and companies that take advantage of this data are seeing some real benefits. By using big data, you can design a more effective benefits plan for your company.
How Big Data and Health Analytics Work
Big data refers to the massive amount of information encountered by businesses every day. In the past, there was so much data that it was impossible to keep track of it and analyze it properly. Today, we can do much more with big data because computers can process more information than people and at a much higher speed. Once collected, this information can be analyzed to identify trends, predict future outcomes and make more informed business decisions.
Healthcare analytics uses big data to better understand healthcare services. You can use healthcare analytics to examine the unique demographics of your workforce, predict their medical needs and estimate your future costs. You can also use healthcare analytics to fix inefficiencies in your plan that are wasting money so you can offer other, better benefits to your employees.
Customize Your Plan
When you set up your health insurance plan, your insurer will offer you a few different combinations of benefits and cost structures. The most cost-effective plan for your company depends on how your employees will use the plan. For example, do your employees use enough medical care to justify a plan with higher monthly premiums but lower out-of-pocket costs? To figure this out, you have to guess how your employees will use their healthcare plans. And, once you’ve settled on your best guess, you have to run the numbers for each plan yourself, which can mean a complicated calculation.
Big data and health analytics firms can run the simulations for you. Based on your company demographics, your employees’ previous health issues and healthcare industry trends, they can accurately predict how much you would spend under different health insurance plans.
Health analytics companies can also uncover trends in your workforce, which may help you design a plan that better fits the needs of your employees. For example, they might discover that your employees see doctors and specialists more often than average subscribers, so you may want to choose a plan that includes lower co-payments for office visits.
Work With a Proactive Insurance Company
Employers are somewhat limited in helping employees make better healthcare decisions because an employee’s health information is private. However, health insurance companies have more opportunities. They can track your employees’ medical histories, which gives them the chance to identify problems as they start to develop. For example, using big data, they can accurately predict whether someone is likely to develop diabetes based on his or her preliminary symptoms.
Then, a healthcare representative can step in and give your employees valuable advice that will hopefully prevent small problems from developing into much more serious and more expensive ones. However, not all health insurance companies are using big data, which means they are missing this important advantage. As you compare plans, ask what each provider is doing with big data so you can find one that will provide this service.
Look for Inefficiencies
There’s a good chance both you and your employees are using your benefits inefficiently. You might be offering benefits that are underused and not that valuable to your employees. For example, you might not realize that your employees are not taking advantage of your vision plan. At the same time, employees might be making poor decisions that prove costly for your plan, such as going to see specialists for conditions that a lower-cost family physician could treat.
A healthcare analytics firm can track your healthcare benefits and give you recommendations for ways you can tweak your plan to eliminate inefficiencies. They can also suggest additional programs that your employees might find useful (such as smoking cessation or weight loss) and let you know if it seems like your employees don’t understand the full value of their benefits so you can adjust your communications strategy accordingly.
As healthcare costs continue to rise, employers need to use every possible strategy to control costs. Big data and healthcare analytics can help you choose a health insurance plan that fits the unique needs of your workforce while saving both you and your employees money.