Healthcare Analytics, Population Health Management, Healthcare Big Data

Population Health News

Population health management brings wellness to employees

By Jennifer Bresnick

- While healthcare providers certainly bear a significant piece of the burden when it comes to ensuring that patients are receiving preventative and chronic disease care, population health management must extend outside of the physician’s office if it is to be truly successful.  The average patient spends a third of their time in the office, and the workplace environment has a significant impact on how people manage their health and maintain good lifestyle habits.  At the same time, employers are being pressured by payers to shoulder more costs for health insurance and produce workers with lower average expenses.

To balance both sides of the equation, some employers are taking matters into their own hands by instituting employee wellness programs that produce happier, healthier, more efficient workers as well as lower insurance costs and a workplace culture that places an emphasis on physical health and self-care.

Derek Kanehira, Vice President of Human Resources at Hawaii National Bank, spoke to HealthITAnalytics about implementing a data-driven population health management program as an employer facing high costs to maintain company-wide wellness.

What prompted you to look into supplementary wellness programs for your employees?

With the rising cost of healthcare, Hawaii National Bank (HNB) felt it was important to collect and analyze employee healthcare claims data as a way to better understand our healthcare spend. Gathering and using population health data is part of our overall strategy for healthcare and wellness.  Because of the data we capture, we now have a clear understanding of the health conditions our employees and their dependents are dealing with. Since our wellness offerings are based on these findings, we are seeing increased rates of participation in activities including our monthly lunch and learning sessions.

Diabetes and cardiovascular care are the two biggest health issues for HNB. Using the data from Healthentic has helped us to work with other organizations in our community. For example, we partnered with a local hospital system and asked them to sit and talk with our employees about their health numbers, as well as talk to them about the support that’s available.  I was talking with the local hospital system’s CEO, and they have access to all of these things. They hadn’t done this kind of partnership before so we ended up being their first pilot program.

What level of cost savings have you achieved?

Since we received our first data set less than a year ago, it is too early to quantify our cost savings.  However, because our wellness committee better understands the health needs and interests of our employees, they now conduct relevant programs and initiatives that have resulted in increased employee participation.  For example, this year 100% of our employees completed both a biometric screening and health risk assessment and we’ve seen large increases in our on-site chair massages and monthly lunch and learn sessions!  Our wellness committee was surprised with the results, but nevertheless impressed with the amount of credible claims data we have available to help effectively implement wellness programs and initiatives.

I use the tool frequently to mine data or to get ideas on wellness initiatives. This includes analyzing reports, running special cuts of data, or simply providing expert wellness insight. The dashboard is simple and easy to use, and provides you with the information any employer needs to manage their wellness investment.

What are your suggestions to other employers who are thinking about implementing data-driven employee health programs?

I would suggest employers ensure they have CEO and executive leadership support and buy-in before collecting data to build a results-oriented workplace program.  Once CEO and executive leadership support are in place, the committee will want to collect data from employee interest surveys, biometric and health risk appraisals, culture audits, and most importantly from a population health tool.  Using data captured from these sources, the committee can then create and implement relevant wellness initiatives and activities.

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