February 25, 2020

How Advisors and Employers Are Getting Data Insights Fast

This is part two in our series of blog posts exploring how benefits leaders can get insights and get ahead using health analytics. Today’s post will look at the need for speed in healthcare analytics. 

Your business moves fast. Your team needs to move faster. Yet, if you’re like most benefits leaders, getting answers from your benefits and healthcare data can take weeks, if not months. And while you’re waiting, costs continue to rise, employees still need help, and your boss’s unanswered questions get moved to the backburner.

In a recent survey of benefits leaders, respondents said it takes anywhere from a few minutes to three months to find key benefits info, depending on their data solution or support. This just doesn’t cut it — especially when almost 80% of benefits professionals say their ability to provide data-driven insights is essential for demonstrating their value to the C-suite. Just like marketing, finance, and other teams in your organization, you should have reliable data at your fingertips.

Getting insights from your benefits and health data quickly is critical to helping your organization meet its goals and helping your population get the care they need. You don’t have time to wait for reports, whether they’re to detect a pattern of chronic conditions, identify gaps in care, or simply answer a basic question from the C-suite about spending. And you shouldn’t have to wait for that valuable information.

“Benefit leaders need to put an absolute priority on the data, because without the data, they’re left with their opinions. If I’m talking with someone in my organization and all I have is my opinion, and they’re at a higher pay grade than I’m at, their opinion tends to win out. If I’ve got the data to support my opinions, I’m on a much more solid piece of ground.”

Jake Flaitz, Director of Benefits at Paychex

With the vast power of data analytics today, you should have the tools you need to get insights in minutes, not months. Here are four steps you can take to get actionable insights faster. 

Step 1: Determine which data sources to bring together. 

Break out of your data silos and find valuable benefits feeds to mine for information. Don’t know where to start? We suggest looking first at medical claims, prescription drug claims, and eligibility data. Next, add in as many of the following as you can: 

  • HRIS
  • Wellness
  • Vision
  • Dental
  • Retirement
  • Disability
  • Second Opinion
  • Transparency
  • Biometrics
  • Telehealth
  • HRA

By getting all these data sources in one place, you can achieve a holistic view that helps you move forward quickly with benefits decisions. 

Step 2: Identify key metrics and analysis intervals. 

Consultants understand how important it is to move beyond a “snapshot” of your data and track trends and metrics over time. Not only can it help you adjust your strategy, but it can also tell you if and when your efforts are making a difference for members.

Decide on metrics that will best reflect your strategy and your population. For example, an organization with mostly office workers may want to keep a closer eye on financial wellness measures, while a manufacturing employer with union workers may not need to track that because of an employee pension plan. 

We recommend working with a healthcare data analytics partner who can ensure timely analysis of up-to-date data. Look for a partner who prioritizes monthly refreshes and allows unlimited historical data. 

Step 3: Cast a wide net to ensure data variety. 

While this might not seem like the key to speedy answers from data, it’s critical to reliable answers. There’s no point in moving fast if you aren’t sure you’re making the right moves. We recommend examining all sides of an issue and conducting a variety of queries on the same question. Think of it like a sandwich; each layer of the sandwich works together to make a delicious meal. If you only had bread and mayonnaise, you have a disappointing sandwich. By adding in cheese, turkey, avocado, tomato, and bacon, you’ve created something special. 

It’s the same concept with data variety. Look at all of these factors to get a reliable conclusion: 

  • Member behaviors and attitudes 
  • Costs 
  • Quality of care/benefits 
  • Risk 
  • Clinical factors 
  • Utilization
  • Demographic and attribution 

Step 4: Look to the future. 

Use all of these techniques and tools to determine what might happen next with your population. If you’re predicting future benefits costs or risk factors, you can move faster to address them. Let’s say you see a year-over-year trend of rising Type II diabetes diagnoses. You’ve measured medical and prescription claims for Type II diabetes, you’ve tracked it for several months in a row, and you’re seeing a clear pattern. 

With predictive analyses, you can do several things to address this: 

  • Accurately forecast future benefits spending for these members 
  • Investigate and roll out a diabetes care management program 
  • Target member communications to those who may need help with their diagnosis 
  • Look into other wellness programs or exercise programs that may help 

When you’re on top of all these steps, whether you’re an advisor or employer, you’re ready to move quickly and take action with your health and benefits data. 


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