The Cost of Inactivity: Wellness Programs and Data Analytics (Part 3 of 4)

wellness analytics

The management of workforce health can be a costly cascade for organizations. The costs of doing nothing can far outweigh investments in health and wellness programing.

Employers continue to adopt wellness programs—either standalone or as part of a health insurance discount—to encourage employee wellness and lower plan costs.

Simple wellness actions can prove almost as effective as large-scale wellness efforts. At one company, data analysts discovered that employees used a low volume of preventive care services, a high volume of emergency room services and the ER to treat chronic conditions.

The corrective action was helping that company establish a simple wellness program, administered by a third-party manager to keep individual health information private. Employees were offered discounts on health insurance premiums if they:

  • Established a relationship with a primary care physician;
  • Received all preventive services appropriate for their age groups and medical conditions.

Preventive services can help identify developing or worsening conditions before they get out of control. Regular doctor visits can yield both large and almost imperceptible changes, like recalibrating an insulin machine. These simple actions can remove old barriers to ensure that healthcare professionals treat their patients holistically.

Integration Yields Tangible Cost Benefits

Another employer incorporated wellness into a larger health benefit renovation. This employer was heading in the wrong direction, as analyzed claims data showed an increase in ER visits and inpatient costs, while use of preventive services was down.

The solution was to develop a three-year integrated solution:

  • A program that offered employees required minimum essential coverage mandated by law
  • Health advocacy program that encouraged employees to use their benefits wisely
  • Wellness activities, including branding and a committee to monitor results
  • A communication campaign to let employees know about their new benefits

Doing nothing is an expensive option

Another employer incorporated wellness into a larger health benefit renovation. This employer was heading in the wrong direction, as analyzed claims data showed an increase in ER visits and inpatient costs, while use of preventive services was down.

The company did offer biometric screening, but only 34% participated in this. The results: a $1.3 million increase in its health benefit costs.

Clearly, identifying the problem and attacking it with an integrated, holistic approach is preferable to doing nothing.

Read the full report HERE

This is part 3 of a 4 part series containing excerpts from the Oswald and Assurex Global data analytics whitepaper, Health Plan Secret Weapon: Integrated Data Analytics – Making Sense of Data to Make More Informed Benefit Plan Decisions. View Part 1 here: How Analytics Helps Make Sense of Health Plan Components and Part 2 here: The Human Touch: Using Analytics to Integrate Solutions And Findings.


About Denise Mirtich:

Denise Mirtich is the Data Analytics Leader and Co-Chair, Women’s Leadership Council, for Oswald Companies. She empowers clients by using Oswald’s advanced information management systems and technological innovations to enhance the client experience by providing high-value deliverables and data-driven guidance in an easy-to-digest format.

Learn more about osWell Health Management and view the recap Innovations Driving Wellness: Highlights From The 2015 osWell Health Management Conference