The word integration has become something of a buzzword in healthcare, and one that has carried over into health plan benefits administration as well. What integration means varies significantly depending on the context. What it means to us at LHD is integrating diverse sources of data that would otherwise remain separate and isolated from each other. Unlocking the power of integrated data can have big impacts not only for better benefits administration in general, but it can also lead to better care from providers and therefore better population health of your company’s workforce—and isn’t that the whole point of providing health benefits to your employees?
The idea behind integration is to bring together as many aspects of benefits related to employee wellbeing as possible, including medical, dental, vision, behavioral, pharmacy, and disability care. Plenty of research has shown that when there the walls between all these aspects of wellbeing are removed and they’re integrated, this can have a transformative effect that drives lower costs, results in better outcomes, and improves the employee health benefits experience from beginning to end. By integrating multiple benefits and the care they provide into a single system, the resulting collection and sharing of data can be leveraged into actionable insights and information to make life easier for employers, employees, and care providers.
The latest Value of Integration study offers the powerful evidence many employers needed to see and take integration seriously. The examined two years of data in the form of more than 2.2 million medical claims of people who receive health benefits from their employer. The average cost savings per employee for a company may seem small at $227 per individual. How that average plays out at any given company is going to depend on the population health demographics of its workforce. It is in these details that many employers find some impressive cost savings.
For example, when an integrated approach to health benefits and care results in the identification of a health improvement opportunity for an individual, this can result in cost savings of $4,741 just for that one employee. Cost savings among those with an oncology diagnosis was $6,700 annually, and savings for those with diabetes was $2,700 annually. While identifying a health improvement opportunity is one thing, getting the employee to engage and make the opportunity a reality is another. In other words, employees with chronic or specialty conditions are the ones most in need of integrated care, and the cost savings are all the more impressive.
The good news is that studies also show the degree to which employees become more engaged in their healthcare within an integrated system, including 21% higher engagement among those living with depression, 11% higher engagement for those with diabetes, and 10% higher engagement for those with an oncology diagnosis. Speaking more broadly, employees receiving care through an integrated approach show 25% more engagement in programs such as counseling, lifestyle or wellness coaching, smoking cessation, and case management for more complex conditions. Simply put, engaged employees have better health outcomes.
What drives the impressive cost savings realized with health benefits administration modern integrations is better health outcomes from a holistic approach to care providers give and the higher engagement of employees in their healthcare. Seamless integrations eliminate the gaps that otherwise exist between different types of care, allowing providers easy access to a more complete picture of an employee’s health and wellbeing. When providers can see this bigger picture, they are more effective at identifying potential issues and driving more proactive interventions based on real-time data before a small problem can become a major health crisis.
When different types of care (medical, dental, vision) are not integrated, issues can arise. For example, the 25 most-utilized prescription drugs people take have known vision and dental side effects. Without integration, an employee’s dental and vision providers might never know they should be modifying the care they give to the employee because the individual has been prescribed one of those medications. An integrated approach eliminates those kinds of gaps to make all care more effective.
As you might imagine, integrating disparate elements of health benefits and care is not an undertaking for the faint of heart. Most companies do need help to achieve effective integration, which requires technical expertise in leveraging the power of APIs in a platform to weave various sources of information and data together into an integrated system. This means establishing partnerships with the right insurance carriers, HR/HCM systems, and so on.
The good news is the LHD has access to exactly the kinds of partnerships that make integration possible, including 16 different carriers, 12 different marketplace partners with value-added offerings that result in a more well-rounded employee benefits offering, and 6 different HR/HCM partners—and additional best-in-class partners will undoubtedly become available moving forward.
Integrating these various aspects of benefits administration results in a much better customer experience for employees in terms of making benefits decisions, enrollment, renewal, and ongoing participation. LHD provides the deep expertise needed to achieve the health benefits administration modern integrations that will not only result in lowering the cost of health benefits for employers but also all the other benefits that come from better health outcomes in a company’s workforce.
If it’s time for your company to realize the full power of an integrated approach to health benefits and care, LHD is ready to help. Get in touch through the Contact page of our website, call us directly at 371.751.7049, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to start the conversation.