Data Analytics Is Crucial for Better Employee Benefits 

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Aug 13 2020

Have you ever started a puzzle only to discover there are pieces missing? Suddenly it makes sense why you’re not making progress. This is what it’s like for self-insured employers who aren't utilizing all of their benefits data. They can make assumptions and gain some insights, but they don’t get a complete view of what’s happening with their population and why – much less what to do about it.

Employers may think that because they have carrier reports, they don’t need a data partner. Carrier reports are a great starting point, but they’re just one piece of the benefits puzzle. To address issues related to emergency room utilization, high-cost health conditions, prescription drug spending, wellness program ROI, and many more, an employer needs access to robust data analytics. Here are three key advantages to adopting a robust data analytics solution.

A holistic view of benefits data 

You’ll sometimes hear data warehouses described as “aggregators,” and that’s exactly what makes them so useful. They bring all benefits data (medical, Rx, eligibility, wellness, financial wellness, health assessment, care management, and more) together in one place for a holistic view of their member population. If an employer is relying just on carrier reports, they’re not getting complete information on the health, wellness, and engagement of their population.

Most large, self-insured employers are offering multiple medical plans from different carriers in different parts of the country. If they’re relying on carrier reports, they have massive, complex data files to work with when looking for trends and insights. Additionally, these reports might measure different things, employ different methodologies, and be presented in different formats. But a data analytics platform, especially one with tools beyond what traditional data warehouses offer, lets the employers see insights from all three carriers in one place, compare the performance of the plans, and more. Employers relying on carrier reports alone are not working with the complete view they need to make connections and take action with data.

Interactive data

One of the most limiting factors in finding insights and taking action with benefits data is the nature of the data itself. Millions of rows in a spreadsheet, along with differences in the data points being captured, make it difficult to compare data quickly and take decisive action.

Carrier reports and feeds from point solutions are not interactive, and can be limited in what metrics they provide. You may get an Excel spreadsheet or a PDF report with the same basic info each time, or you might get reports from two different carriers formatted differently and that show different information. You may find yourself using visualization tools not designed for use with benefits data. A robust data platform offers interactivity, normalized data, and a way to create custom visualizations in the same tool.

Data enrichments

It’s one thing to gather data and report the facts. It’s another to provide deeper insights using unique data models, algorithms, and other enhancements to make the story meaningful and actionable. This process is called “data enrichment,” and it’s not easy to do with carrier reports.

If you’ve only worked with carrier reports up to now, you may not know what you’re missing. They can only offer a partial view of how benefits are being used and how programs are performing -- and of the health of members. A holistic approach to data analytics helps employers move beyond surface-level reporting. A flexible data analytics tool can take you’re your strategic planning to the next level by providing trustworthy, actionable insights.

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