New Report Urges Employers, Researchers and Policy Makers to Rethink How They Measure Health Care Results
San Francisco, CA & Washington, DC (February 28, 2011) -- Understanding the full value of improved health, including improvements in workforce productivity, lost time and medical costs, is essential in helping employers seek the best value for their health investments, according to a new study released today. The study authors note that defining value for employers in this way could substantially transform the provision of health care benefits in the U.S. health care system.
The study, Synergies at Work: Realizing the Full Value of Health Investments, stresses what employers need in health care decision making, provides a framework for evaluating health-related investments, and supplements the analysis with case studies featuring eight employers. The paper was written by A. Mark Fendrick, MD, co-director of the University of Michigan Center for Value-Based Insurance Design (V-BID Center), and Thomas Parry, PhD, president, and Kimberly Jinnett, PhD, research director, both of the Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI). The National Pharmaceutical Council (NPC) funded and published the paper.
“Employers can contribute greatly to the transformation of the health system by focusing on value and not simply on financing and who pays,” said Dr. Fendrick. “It is imperative that we move beyond the current paradigm of exclusively measuring medical offsets, and include measurement of the effects in increased productivity that accompanies improvements in health.”
For employers, and to a great extent the broader health care consumer population, impacts of health investments are traditionally measured in terms of medical costs and savings alone. This approach ignores value and potential return on investment from health-related productivity increases (including reductions in health-related work absence and disability and improved job performance) and enhanced quality of life for employees and their families. For employers, recognition of the additional human capital value of their health investments would help support initiatives to improve employee health and productivity.
With the more limited, traditional approach, employers generally undervalue the impact of improved health outcomes to businesses and their employees. According to IBI’s research-based modeling tool, the Full Cost Estimator, for a 10,000-life sample employer in the health care services sector, medical care costs amount to less than 30% of all health-related costs for workers. The remainder stems from wage-replacement payments and lost productivity from absence or reduced job performance from ill health. At the same time, IBI surveys of chief financial officers demonstrate potential acceptance for considering the human capital impacts of workforce health, but most employers have not developed actionable data on these non-medical costs.
“Including a measure of the economic benefits of good health that reflects the true costs of ill health and the full savings from health improvement would immediately allow decision-makers and payers to make better choices as to how much to invest in health care, prevention and wellness, as well as how to determine the specific services in which to invest,” said Dr. Parry.
The study notes that employers face challenges in gathering the right information needed to make decisions. To fully assess the impact of ill health and health-related interventions, employers need to incorporate evidence beyond medical claim data, such as intervention results, incidence and duration of workplace absence and disability, and validated self-report surveys, among other data.
“In today’s health care and economic environment, it is now more important than ever to fully understand the impact of health care decisions on workforce productivity,” said NPC President Dan Leonard. “This framework for evaluating health investments provides a useful tool to help employers and others invest wisely in health.”
About the University of Michigan Center for Value-Based Insurance Design
The University of Michigan Center for Value-Based Insurance Design (V-BID Center) is the leading advocate for development, implementation and evaluation of innovative health benefit plans. Since 2005, the Center has been actively engaged in understanding the impact of value-based insurance design and collaborating with employers, health plans, policy leaders, and academics, to improve clinical outcomes and enhance economic efficiency of the U.S. health care system. For more V-BID information and resources, please visit: www.vbidcenter.org.
About the Integrated Benefits Institute
The Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI) provides employers and their supplier partners with resources for demonstrating the business value of health. As a pioneer, leader and nonprofit supplier of health and productivity research, measurement and benchmarking, IBI is the trusted source for benefits performance analysis, research-based approaches, and forums for information and education. IBI’s programs, resources and expert member networks advance understanding about the link between–and the impact of–health-related productivity on corporate America’s bottom line. More information is available at www.ibiweb.org.
About the National Pharmaceutical Council
The National Pharmaceutical Council is a health policy research organization dedicated to the advancement of good evidence and science, and to fostering an environment in the United States that supports medical innovation. Founded in 1953 and supported by the nation’s major research-based pharmaceutical companies, NPC focuses on research development, information dissemination, and education on the critical issues of evidence, innovation and the value of medicines for patients. For more information, visit www.npcnow.org.
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