Big data may help convert wellness dollars into successful outcomes

Dive Brief:

  • Workplace wellness continues to grab headlines and cost money, but a high number of workplace programs are not hitting strong heights when it comes to employee participation and engagement — and the result may be a new approach in the short term, one that focuses on data analytics, according to Employee Benefits News.
  • EBN reports on a new study from HealthMine that found 44% of 750 insured consumers enrolled in a wellness program have a chronic condition but just 14% say that their programs help manage those conditions. Plus, just 35% of consumers enrolled in these programs engage in them at least once per week. 
  • The gap between what a wellness program wants to achieve (an $8 billion annual investment by U.S. health sponsors, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation) and its lack of results has created a chasm in care delivery, EBN reports.

Dive Insight:

According to experts, the wellness model should focus on disease prevention and management, not lifestyle management. That's where big data can make the most difference. Using data from medical and pharmacy claims, lab results and wearable technology, for example, it's more likely to take the 20% of the 80-20 rule (20% of the claims account for 80%of the costs in healthcare).

In a related trend, many emerging digital tools seek to make wellness and health plans more effective in general. For example, telephonic consult, aka telehealth, has grabbed a foothold among large many large employers, according to the National Business Group on Health. Other digital tools that can deliver "actionable data" to employers looking to make wellness work include real-time dashboards.

More effective incentive strategies tied to data may help get employees more involved. After all, 68% of employees in the HealthMine survey reported that they would engage with their wellness program more if there were better incentives, or any incentives at all.

Filed Under: Comp & Benefits