Limited population metrics can help manage health, productivityNews added by Benefits Pro on January 10, 2013

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By Amanda McGrory-Dixon

As employers experience higher data levels within benefits, human resources, safety and operational departments, an employer can use a limited set of population health metrics to emphasize top indicators of health, care and treatment as well as lagging health indicators, according to Data Strategies for Managing Health and Productivity by the Integrated Benefits Institute.

Based on these metrics, an employer can communicate health strategies and business-relevant outcomes to senior management, benefits program administrators and business operations leaders, finds the report, which includes three case studies on best-practice employers: American Express, O’Neal Industries and Barrette Outdoor Living.

"Employers know that the impact of work force health goes far beyond expenses for medical care," says Thomas Parry, Ph.D., president of IBI. "At the same time, employers often don't know what to ask for, are inundated with health-related benefits program data they don't need or can't get the data they do need to make good decisions. This report gives concrete examples on how companies are managing health-related and productivity data to drive business results."

Additionally, in order to establish a comprehensive approach to population health and productivity management, senior management must support this program, the report finds. Data can be integrated at the employee level to support customized health interventions. This can also protect employee confidentiality.

To find success with program implementation and evaluation, an employer should rely on an external benefits partner with expertise in data warehousing and analysis, the report finds. Benefits supplier partners should also work together to provide data to the employer at a level of aggregation supporting population-health management, and a data aggregation and population health management strategy isn’t only for large employers. Small employers can benefit from this, as well.

"Data collection and analysis is key to developing a productive work force," says John Riedel, president of Riedel & Associates Consultants. "Unfortunately, employers must get their arms around and understand data from a variety of sources including health claims, provider quality, absence, disability and wellness. By working with internal experts and supplier partners employers can maximize their data to design and evaluate programs that ensure the best results for their dollars, and, ultimately, a healthy work force."

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