How Activist Employers are Revolu-
tionizing Healthcare

How Activist Employers are Revolutionizing Healthcare

How Activist Employers are Revolutionizing Healthcare

How Activist Employers are Revolutionizing Healthcare

The Activists Among Us

The Activists Among Us

The Activists Among Us

The Activists Among Us

Learn more about the common traits activist employers share

Learn more about the common traits activist employers share

5 min read
01

Activists Leverage Socio-Demographic Data

Activists Leverage Socio-Demographic Data

Activists Leverage Socio-Demographic Data

Activists Leverage Socio-Demographic Data

See how activists utilize tools to customize benefits

See how activists utilize tools to customize benefits

2 min read
02

Activists Offer Plans Designed
Around Quality of Care

Activists Offer Plans Designed
Around Quality of Care

Activists Offer Plans Designed
Around Quality of Care

Activists Offer Plans Designed
Around Quality of Care

Discover why you should be factoring quality of care into your benefits decision making

Discover why you should be factoring quality of care into your benefits decision making

5 min read
03

Activists Use Personalized, Digital Experiences to Engage Employees

Activists Use Personalized, Digital Experiences to Engage Employees

Activists Use Personalized, Digital Experiences to Engage Employees

Activists Use Personalized, Digital Experiences to Engage Employees

See how to positively change employee health outcomes through communication

See how to positively change employee health outcomes through communication

5 min read
04

Activists Use Data and Tools to Address Employee Well-being

Activists Use Data and Tools to Address Employee Well-being

Activists Use Data and Tools to Address Employee Well-being

Activists Use Data and Tools to Address Employee Well-being

Learn how benefits optimization tools and data analytics can encourage lifestyle changes

Learn how benefits optimization tools and data analytics can encourage lifestyle changes

3 min read
05

Activists Offer the Diverse Benefits
Employees Really Need

Activists Offer the Diverse Benefits
Employees Really Need

Activists Offer the Diverse Benefits
Employees Really Need

Activists Offer the Diverse Benefits
Employees Really Need

Why providing comprehensive coverage to employees is crucial for improved employee productivity, engagement and well-being

Why providing comprehensive coverage to employees is crucial for improved employee productivity, engagement and well-being

2 min read
06

Make a Difference

Make a Difference

Make a Difference

Make a Difference

How data and engagement tools can influence new industry standards beyond the boardroom

How data and engagement tools can influence new industry standards beyond the boardroom

2 min read
07

About the Survey

About the Survey

About the Survey

About the Survey

Explore survey details and learn about IBM Watson Health

Explore survey details and learn about IBM Watson Health

2 min read
08

How Activist Employers are Revolutionizing Healthcare

01

3 min read

The Activists Among Us

As an employee benefits professional, perhaps the following statistics will come as no surprise:

svg Annual employer health insurance family premiums rose 5% to average $20,576. In contrast, inflation rose only 2%.¹

svg The U.S. spends almost 18% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on healthcare—and about 30% of that money is wasted.²

svg In 2016, the U.S. spent nearly twice as much as 10 high-income countries—and performed less well on many population health outcomes.³

Is there anything employee benefits professionals can do to make a difference and improve healthcare in the U.S.?

IBM Watson Health, in partnership with SourceMedia Research, surveyed 280 benefits professionals at self-insured large companies to uncover the top five strategies that those who want to change healthcare—whom we call “activists”—use. This white paper may inspire HR professionals such as you to make benefits changes in your own large company.


The Activists Among Us

An activist employer is frustrated by the status quo—and is willing to do something about it. Activists don’t complain but take action, both inside and outside their organization to change the way healthcare is delivered in the U.S

Activists seek to not only improve the lives of their employees but to create a ripple effect throughout the U.S. healthcare system. As payers, activist employers seek to collaborate with other industry stakeholders to find a balance between quality and cost.

The survey categorized employer activism based on responses to nine attitudinal statements. Among survey respondents, 21% satisfied the survey criteria of high activists, 28% are moderate activists, and 51% are low activists, based on their responses to nine attitudinal statements (see Figure 1). 

A chart that demonstrate the numbers in percentage of the employer activism.

Employer activism definitions are based on respondents’ agreement to nine attitudinal statements:

  • I am satisfied with the status quo within my organization—disagree completely
  • Maintaining a predictable daily schedule at work is important to me—disagree completely
  • I want to improve employee benefits by any means necessary— agree completely
  • I am comfortable analyzing data to understand employee needs/identify trends—agree completely
  • I thrive in dynamic work environments—agree completely
  • In the last 12 months, I have taken on complex projects without being asked to—agree completely
  • In the last 12 months, I have challenged why inefficient processes exist within my organization—agree completely
  • In the last 12 months, I have provided solutions to inefficient processes within my organization—agree completely
  • In the last 12 months, I have provided solutions to employee benefit gaps—agree completely


Footnotes

1.https://www.kff.org/report-section/ehbs-2019-section-1-cost-of-health-insurance

2.https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2752664

3.https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2674671


02

2 min read

Activists Leverage Socio-Demographic Data

Almost half (48%) of activist employers say that socio-demographic data is a major driver in their benefits offering decision process. The most often used data is age, ethnicity, education, and homeownership. Activists are also much more likely to use socio-demographic tools to improve their benefits strategy (see Figure 2).

A chart that demonstrate the employee socio-demographic needs by activism level.

Although higher activist employers are more likely to customize benefits based on socio-demographic data, the percentage at 19% is not as high as we would hope. We found that respondents are either not familiar with tools that will help apply socio-demographic data to their benefits program design or they don’t feel they have the time or resources to use these tools.

One respondent told us, “We didn’t know these tools were available.” Another says, “Our staffing has been cut so much that we don't have time to use socio-demographic tools.”



03

4 min read

Activists Offer Plans Designed Around Quality
of Care

Activist employers are more likely than other employers to factor quality of care into their benefits decision-making. While 74% of activist employers use quality of care, only 55% of low activist employers design their programs based on value (see Figure 3).

A chart that demonstrate the quality of care by activism level, showing if the design plans are based on quality.

Most (74%) activist employers contract directly with insurers for value-based care models while 58% contract with a provider organization.

There’s a variety of value-based care models to choose from, including collaborating with other industry stakeholders such as providers. Centers of excellence is the most-used value-based care model by activist employers at 70%, followed closely by bundled payments (58%) and accountable care organizations (58%). The healthcare industry has used centers of excellence since the 1980s and its advantages are well documented. Newer initiatives, such as bundled payments, quality of care and accountable care organizations, are still gaining momentum as a way to address the rising cost of healthcare.





04

5 min read

Activists Use Personalized, Digital Experiences to Engage Employees

One of the biggest challenges employers face is communicating their benefits offerings and encouraging employees to take advantage of health and wellness programs. For instance, employees who work in production environments may not have access to company email.

One respondent told us, “It’s a challenge to communicate all the great benefits we have to our employees.” Another says, “We want people to be healthier but how they live their lives outside of the office is something we can’t really impact yet.”

Activist employers drive employee engagement through personalized, digital experiences that seek to positively change employee health outcomes.

And they are successful (Figure 4):

  • 50% of activist employers say that they are engaging employees versus 27% of low activist employers.
  • 41% of activist employers vs. 25% of least activist employers are more likely to use employee engagement data to drive decision making.

Activists recognize that employees are increasingly comfortable using digital tools. According to an Accenture survey, 75% of U.S. consumers believe that technology is important in managing their health.⁴ McKinsey discovered similar findings: consumers prefer digital when searching for doctors (79%), paying health insurance bills (77%), monitoring daily health metrics (75%) and searching for hospitals (74%).⁵


Benefits Effectiveness by Activism Level (Figure 4)

Low activist employer (A) Moderate activist employer (B) High activist employer (C)
Engaging employees with their healthcare benefits 27% 34% 50%ᴬ
Positively changing/influencing employee health outcomes or behaviors 17% 28% 47%ᴬᴮ
Using claims or employee engagement data to drive decision making 25% 38% 41%ᴬ
Providing targeted interventions 19% 28% 38%ᴬ
Predicting or forecasting future healthcare spending 17% 24% 36%ᴬᴮ

Bases: 58 high activist employers; 79 moderate activist employers; 143 low activist employers

Letters indicate statistical significance at the 95% confidence level over the indicated segment

Source: SourceMedia Research/Employee Benefit News, October 2019

Benefits Effectiveness by Activism Level

Engaging employees with their healthcare benefits

Low activist employer (A)

27%

Moderate activist employer (B)

34%

High activist employer (C)

50%ᴬ

Positively changing/influencing employee health outcomes or behaviors

Low activist employer (A)

17%

Moderate activist employer (B)

28%

High activist employer (C)

47%ᴬᴮ

Using claims or employee engagement data to drive decision making

Low activist employer (A)

25%

Moderate activist employer (B)

38%

High activist employer (C)

41%ᴬ

Providing targeted interventions

Low activist employer (A)

19%

Moderate activist employer (B)

28%

High activist employer (C)

38%ᴬ

Predicting or forecasting future healthcare spending

Low activist employer (A)

17%

Moderate activist employer (B)

24%

High activist employer (C)

36%ᴬᴮ



Bases: 58 high activist employers; 79 moderate activist employers; 143 low activist employers

Letters indicate statistical significance at the 95% confidence level over the indicated segment

Source: SourceMedia Research/Employee Benefit News, October 2019

Footnotes:

4.https://www.accenture.com/us-en/insight-new-2018-consumer-survey-digital-health

5.https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/healthcare-systems-and-services/our-insights/promoting-an-overdue-digital-transformation-in-healthcare

05

5 min read

Activists Use Data and
Tools to Address Overall Employee Health and Well-being

Activist employers are keenly focused on refining overall employee health and well-being, with 60% saying it’s their top objective. To move the needle on employee heath, activist employers rely heavily on benefits optimization tools and data analytics

Activists use employee wellness incentives (74%), benefits data analytics tools (74%), and targeted benefits communications tools (64%) more often than other benefits professionals. They also rely on cost-transparency tools (59%) much more frequently (see Figure 5).


Benefits Optimization Tool Usage by Activism Level Figure 5

Low activist employer (A) Moderate activist employer (B) High activist employer (C)
Employee wellness incentives 57% 56% 78%ᴬᴮ
Benefits data analytics tool 42% 57% 74%ᴬᴮ
Targeted benefits communication tools/services 40% 43% 64%ᴬᴮ
Cost-transparency tools 42% 35% 59%ᴬᴮ
Centers of excellence 39% 30% 59%ᴬᴮ
Mobile apps or health/fitness wearable devices 37% 34% 55%ᴬᴮ
Concierge health advocate 26% 35% 43%ᴬ

Bases: 58 high activist employers; 79 moderate activist employers; 143 low activist employers

Letters indicate statistical significance at the 95% confidence level over the indicated segment

Source: SourceMedia Research/Employee Benefit News, October 2019

 

Benefits Optimization Tool Usage by Activism Level

Employee wellness incentives

Low activist employer (A)

57%

Moderate activist employer (B)

56%

High activist employer (C)

78%ᴬᴮ

Benefits data analytics tool

Low activist employer (A)

42%

Moderate activist employer (B)

57%

High activist employer (C)

74%ᴬᴮ

Targeted benefits communication tools/services

Low activist employer (A)

40%

Moderate activist employer (B)

43%

High activist employer (C)

64%ᴬᴮ

Cost-transparency tools

Low activist employer (A)

42%

Moderate activist employer (B)

35%

High activist employer (C)

59%ᴬᴮ

Centers of excellence

Low activist employer (A)

39%

Moderate activist employer (B)

30%

High activist employer (C)

59%ᴬᴮ

Mobile apps or health/fitness wearable devices

Low activist employer (A)

37%

Moderate activist employer (B)

34%

High activist employer (C)

55%ᴬ

Concierge health advocate

Low activist employer (A)

26%

Moderate activist employer (B)

35%

High activist employer (C)

43%ᴬᴮ

Of course, the data that activists use must be both accurate as well as actionable. And that can be a challenge. “We are working toward making data-driven decisions, but usage isn’t the only piece of the puzzle. We also want to gauge employees’ perception of health benefits value and what matters to them,” says one respondent. “It’s a priority we're working on.”



06

2 min read

Activists Offer the Diverse Benefits Employees Really Need

Activist organizations offer a wider variety of benefits that focus on whole-person well-being than non-activists. This makes sense since high-activist employers are also more likely to use socio-demographic data and other analytics to drive benefits plan design. These activists recognize tools that give them a better understanding of their workforce enables them to offer more diverse benefits to meet employee needs.

For example, more than three-quarters (76%) of activist employers offer an employee assistance program compared to 60% of low activist employers. Sixty-seven percent (67%) of high activist employers provide mental health coverage versus only 50% of low activist employers. Eight in ten (81%) of high activist employers offer pharmacy benefits versus 61% of moderate activist employers (see Figure 6).

Benefits Effectiveness by Activism Level Figure 6

Low activist employer (A) Moderate activist employer (B) High activist employer (C)
Pharmacy benefits 70% 61% 81%ᴮ
Employee assistance program 60% 57% 76%ᴬᴮ
Mental health coverage 50% 53% 67%ᴬ
Health, fitness, and wellness incentive programs 45% 51% 66%ᴬ
Health coaching 40% 53% 55%ᴬ
Stress management 34% 41% 53%ᴬ
Biometrics screenings 31% 44% 52%ᴬ
Telemedicine 34% 44% 50%ᴬ

Bases: 58 high activist employers; 79 moderate activist employers; 143 low activist employers

Letters indicate statistical significance at the 95% confidence level over the indicated segment

Source: SourceMedia Research/Employee Benefit News, October 2019

Benefits Effectiveness by Activism Level

Pharmacy benefits

Low activist employer (A)

70%

Moderate activist employer (B)

61%

High activist employer (C)

81%ᴮ

Employee assistance program

Low activist employer (A)

60%

Moderate activist employer (B)

57%

High activist employer (C)

76%ᴬᴮ

Mental health coverage

Low activist employer (A)

50%

Moderate activist employer (B)

53%

High activist employer (C)

67%ᴬ

Health, fitness, and wellness incentive programs

Low activist employer (A)

45%

Moderate activist employer (B)

51%

High activist employer (C)

66%ᴬ

Health coaching

Low activist employer (A)

40%

Moderate activist employer (B)

53%

High activist employer (C)

55%ᴬ

Stress management

Low activist employer (A)

34%

Moderate activist employer (B)

41%

High activist employer (C)

53%ᴬ

Biometrics screenings

Low activist employer (A)

31%

Moderate activist employer (B)

44%

High activist employer (C)

52%ᴬ

Telemedicine

Low activist employer (A)

34%

Moderate activist employer (B)

44%

High activist employer (C)

50%ᴬ

These employers believe that providing comprehensive coverage to employees is important. Notes one survey respondent, “We just want our employees to be happy and healthy and we want to get them the best coverage possible.” Another told us, “We strive as a company to give our employees the best benefits so they can be productive and happy.”

07

2 min read

Make a Difference

Employers are well positioned to make a difference in how healthcare is delivered in the U.S., whether controlling rising healthcare costs for employers and employees, improving employee engagement or challenging industry norms. These employers have an insider perspective on costs and the drivers of quality care. In fact, most are open to new strategies.

We are looking for better tools and to create incentives to get employees motivated to try to stay healthier.
– Survey Respondent

man thinking

We are working hard to make sure that employees are healthy and happy.
– Survey Respondent

We believe that with access to data analytics and employee engagement tools, activist employers can influence the creation of new industry standards beyond the boardroom. Starting within their own organizations, activists can spearhead initiatives such as using socio-demographic data to better meet the needs of diverse employee populations, offering plans designed around quality of care and driving employee engagement through personalized, digital experiences.

Right now, conversations around health insurance are muddled. We’re trying to provide clarity in our programs.
– Survey Respondent

Healthcare benefits in the U.S. needs employers who are willing to look for innovative solutions within their own organizations and can then share those solutions with others, creating momentum for change. But it takes vision and commitment to better technology, something that activist employers share. As one activist respondent notes, “We always go big or go home.”


How was it possible that mathematical optimization could do in five seconds what simulation took us 48 hours to do?

— Susara van den Heever, Product Manager, IBM Decision Optimization

Ready to pave the way to smarter benefits in your company?

08

1 min read

About the Survey

In September and October 2019, SourceMedia Research conducted an online survey of 280 self-insured employers who work at organizations with 5,000 – 10,000+ employees in a wide variety of industries across the U.S. Respondents were manager level through c-suite with benefits decision-making involvement. Any questions about the survey can be sent to watsonh@us.ibm.com.

group of people

About IBM Watson Health

Watson Health is a business unit of IBM that is dedicated to the development and implementation of cognitive and data-driven technologies to advance health. Watson Health technologies are tackling a wide range of the world's biggest healthcare challenges across payers, providers, life sciences, imaging, oncology, and government. Learn how activist employers can measure success of their wellness programs with IBM Watson Health.

About SourceMedia Research

SourceMedia Research provides full custom B2B research solutions for marketers, agencies and others targeting business sectors, such as accounting, banking, payments, mortgage, insurance, HR/employee benefits and wealth management. SourceMedia Research is a unit of SourceMedia, whose B2B media brands include Employee Benefits News, Employee Benefits Adviser, and more.