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April 16, 2019

Your Benefits Consultant Is On the Front Lines of Data Analytics—Here's How

Artemis Health

We spend a lot of time talking to employer benefits teams about data analytics. They understand the value of their benefits data—how they use it can impact the health outcomes and productivity of their employees. But many self-insured employers don’t have seasoned analysts on staff. Even if they do, analytical resources are stretched very thin. They rely on consultants and advisors to help them make great decisions using their data.

Consultants are on the front lines of benefits data analytics. They’re the folks who dig through thousands of rows in a spreadsheet to surface problems and find solutions. At Artemis, we feel their pain and want to support them in their work with better tools, easier analyses, and white glove support.

Here are three ways that benefits consultants are using data and driving decision-making for self-insured employers.

They use data to set priorities with their clients.

When consultants and employers dive into benefits data, they find areas of focus, risks, and potential problems to be solved. Data enables them to set annual priorities and maximize their limited time. In fact, Willis Towers Watson’s blog recently explored how digital data will help organizations prioritize areas of concern and create change.

“When HR is able to feed useful, crucial data-driven evidence to the C-suite, leaders will have a strategic tool that enables them to take timely and proactive actions.”

One Artemis client and their consultant were interested in exploring the behavioral health of their population. The consultant “cross-walked” multiple data feeds (medical, Rx, short-term disability, and absenteeism) to see how depression and anxiety was impacting their members. Here’s what they found:

Artemis Platform screenshot of key findings.

After seeing the stark differences between these members and those out of the cohort, the consultant recommended adding a behavioral health wellness program. The employer was able to justify a new program to their C-suite using these findings.

They use data to inform HR communications.

Employee engagement is a hot topic for both employers and their advisors. Artemis conducted an end-of-year survey of our readers, and “engagement” was a keyword for just about everyone in the benefits industry. Data is the key to identifying, targeting, and communicating effectively with employees. Whether it’s annual enrollment, program participation, or changes to plan designs, consultants are backing up employers’ benefits strategies with data.

One common tactic? Collaborating with carriers for plan communications. It’s common for consultants and employers to work together on prescription spending, which is rising by double digit percentages each year. Data from PBMs help analysts find inefficient spending, identify high cost drugs, and make formulary adjustments.

Consultants help not only conduct the analysis, but also strategize for how to communicate plan changes to employees. Employers can then work with carriers to target new communications materials to only the members who are affected.

They truly understand public policy.

Have you ever gone to a retail store and found an employee who really knows their stuff? Someone who can explain the tiny differences between each model of TV, each pair of hiking boots, or each brand of windshield washer fluid? The value of a true expert is hard to measure, but you know one when you meet one.

Consultants act as experts for their clients to help them navigate change laws, policies and trends in the healthcare industry. It’s their job to follow everything from the Tax Cuts and Jobs act to the latest thinking on value-based care. They’re up on compliance issues and help their clients understand necessary changes to their policies and procedures.

HR and benefits teams are some of the busiest, most understaffed and most overworked at any organization. There are usually just a handful of them to meet the needs of thousands of employees, and consultants help extend their reach. Especially when it comes to ever-changing policies, procedures and issues in healthcare.

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