Smart Benefits: Better Data for Better Care
Monday, January 23, 2012
Where’s the 411?
Employers are increasingly shifting greater responsibility to consumers to become active participants in their healthcare decisions and advocates for better quality and cost. And, to support that effort, a number of sources exist to find basic comparative information, including some health insurers, state health officials, private companies and even the federal government, such as:
- Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
- UnitedHealth Premium Designation Program
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of RI Hospital Quality Program
Are Consumers Ready for Evidenced-Based Decisions?
To assess quality and cost efficiency, these organizations evaluate providers and facilities against evidence-based medicine standards and claims data to provide objective comparison measures.
But even though this information is more readily available – and easy-to-use – than ever before, few people are using it to make decisions about their care. Instead, many consumers continue to turn to their friends or family members for recommendations, or choose simply based on location. So how can employers drive utilization of the data?
The Critical Link: Outreach and Education
To improve the delivery of care in this country, consumer engagement is key. But just having information about care choices available isn’t necessarily enough to motivate employees to use it. Here are some ways to encourage workers to take more responsibility:
- Communicate the link between employee commitment to care and better quality, and value.
- Include opportunities to access research resources in print, via phone and through your intranet site or web portal.
- Advocate for greater transparency with your health plan by asking for ratings in their provider directories.
When consumers know why and how to arm themselves with the right information, they’ll expect higher quality and cost effectiveness from their providers – and it will be easy to find out who’s delivering it.
Amy Gallagher has over 19 years of healthcare industry experience. As Vice President at Cornerstone Group, she advises large employers on long-term cost-containment strategies, consumer-driven solutions and results-driven wellness programs. Amy speaks regularly on a variety of healthcare-related topics, is a member of local organizations like the Rhode Island Business Group on Health, HRM-RI, SHRM, WELCOA, and the Rhode Island Business Healthcare Advisory Council, and participates in the Lieutenant Governor’s Health Benefits Exchange work group of the Health Care Reform Commission.
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