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March 2, 2021

Original Research: Employers Want Meaningful Conclusions from Benefits Data

Artemis Health

Artemis Health and Employee Benefit News teamed up to conduct original research into the goals, challenges, and needs of employee benefit leaders. We surveyed 300 benefits pros at organizations with 5,000 more employees to find out what motivates them, what holds them back, and how they’re using their benefits data to improve the lives of their employees. 

In this final installment of our multi-part blog post series on the research findings, we’ll look more closely at what the respondents want from their analytics solutions, plus recap the larger takeaways from the full research. 

Read Part 1 here.

Read Part 2 here.                                       

Read Part 3 here. 

Employer Data Analytics Needs

Employers want meaningful conclusions, not just raw data, from their analytics solutions. 

Survey responses indicated a need for data interpretation and action, not just warehousing or aggregation. While we know they want more meaningful conclusions (64%) and an action plan (55%), they also provided specific answers on how data tools would ideally function. Here’s what they said when asked what features and functionality employers need from their data analytics tools.  

Bar chart showing which features of data warehouse are most important.

High quality data ranked number one at 62%. Employers are seeing a disconnect between the answers they’re getting from different data sources (for example, a carrier report and a care management program data feed). They need their data warehouse solution to help sort out these inconsistencies and provide reliable data. 

Additionally, employers want to see all their benefits data in one place (45%). A useful data tool will allow the benefits team to “cross-walk” and compare data from each of their plans, point solutions, prescription claims, eligibility, and more. They would prefer to work in one tool to gather benefits data insights. Many have shared the need for a holistic look at employee health and well-being, and only by looking across many data feeds can benefits teams get a view of population health, total well-being, and employee engagement. 

While data enrichments garnered just 19% of the responses, the employers who chose this feature are more likely to have fewer than 25,000 employees. Smaller companies are more likely to need data enrichments and models to help them calculate actionable overspending, high cost claims, risk scores, and other more complex analyses. 

Other important features include: 

  • Ease of use (42%)
  • Data visualization tools (39%) 
  • The ability to look across data feeds (35%) 
  • Collaboration/sharing functionality (30%) 
  • Benchmarking capabilities (29%)

Open-ended responses reiterated the need for brokers and consultants to provide data analytics help. One employer wrote, “[I want my advisor to] break down the data specifically so that we are well-informed before trying to implement new strategies.”

Conclusions 

What did we learn about 2020 and 2021 from this research study? Here are our top takeaways. 

The survey asked benefits leaders about their organizational goals and their own personal motivations. They are aligned and laser-focused on employee well-being. 

Both individuals and organizations are now focused on employee health and well-being above everything else. They are motivated to help employees lead healthier lives and are aligned on this strategic goal. 

A growing number of benefits leaders feel they are ahead of the curve. 

Employers are more likely to view themselves as innovative and cutting-edge than last year. COVID-19 has forced many to pivot and find creative solutions to benefits problems, and they are feeling confident in their ability to meet employee needs. 

Companies are more concerned with employee well-being than ever before. 

The COVID-19 pandemic may have caused a “caring revolution” for large employers, who are now prioritizing employee health over productivity or reducing turnover. Mental health, quality of care, and employee well-being are more important to them than ever. 

85% of employers said their benefits data is key for creating a sound benefits program. 

The importance of employee benefits data is clear in 2020 and into the future. The majority of employers report that it’s now part of their benefits planning and decision-making process. 2/3rds plan to invest in data solutions in the coming year. 

Brokers and consultants play a key role in getting their clients “ahead of the curve.” 

The most innovative employers are also the most likely to rely on their benefits advisors for decision making. They see advisors as crucial partners, not just a resource to tap during busy times like open enrollment. They also expect data analytics from advisors. 

Employers want meaningful conclusions and trustworthy data from their data analytics solutions.

“Data warehousing” isn’t enough for benefits leaders. They need help interpreting the data, finding insights, and taking action. They want both advisors and data analytics tools to step up and provide more value.

This research illuminates the distinct opportunities available to both benefits advisors and data analytics solutions in 2021. Employers are demanding support, insights, and measurement strategies to help them balance their growing list of priorities. They are busy, and the COVID-19 pandemic just added to their already-full plates. Brokers, consultants, and data analytics tools are poised to provide the solutions employers need to improve employee health/well-being, engagement, and satisfaction. 

About the Research 

This research study was commissioned by Artemis Health, conducted in partnership with Arizent/Employee Benefit News. It focused on HR and Benefits leaders at self-insured employers with at least 5,000 employees. Responses were collected from 301 benefit leaders from retail, manufacturing, banking/finance/insurance, healthcare, technology, and other industries.  

Want to learn more about how Artemis Health can help you improve employee healthcare with data? Watch our 2-minute demo video. 
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