Entries in Surveys & Reports (72)

Friday
Sep192014

Humana Study on Workplace Wellness: It’s not just ROI

By Clive Riddle, September 19, 2014 

Humana has just published a 22 page report Measuring wellness: From data to insights which based on their study conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, examining “why companies implement workplace wellness, how data influences these programs and identifies obstacles that inhibit program participation.” The study surveyed 225 U.S.-based executives and 630 full-time employees from organizations with workplace wellness programs. 

Beth Bierbower, President of Humana’s Employer Group Segment, tells us “It’s interesting to validate that employers now view ROI as an important, but not exclusive or even primary measure of a wellness program’s success. Employers are now seeing that employee health is important beyond health care costs, it has profound impacts on productivity, retention, workplace engagement and morale.” The report states that instead of asking about ROI, “perhaps the question should be, ‘do we improve health at a reasonable price’ as opposed to ‘do we save money by doing so.’” 

Here are some key findings highlighted from the study:

  • Nearly 70 percent of executives consider their organization’s wellness program to be cost effective, even though not all of the outcomes are measurable.
  • While 86 percent of executives say improving employee health as an indirect driver of productivity, morale and engagement is their top reason for implementing a wellness program, cost factors are still important, including reducing employee health care costs (66 percent) and controlling medical claims (48 percent).
  • About 30 percent of employees rate subsidized gym memberships, onsite health and wellness facilities, and budgeted wellness activity time during business hours, as the three most important services that would motivate participation.          
  • 64 percent of employees have used fitness devices to monitor health and capture data, but only 19 percent use them regularly.         
  • Two-thirds of executives feel data collection and interpretation is the biggest challenge confronting effective workplace wellness.         
  • 53% of survey respondents say their organization collects health-related employee data as part of its wellness program
  • The biggest disconnects between executives and employees regarding their perceptions of obstacles to employee participation in wellness programs, were in regards to the statements: “Employees don’t perceive health and wellness as a high priority” (30% of executives agreed vs. 2% of employees); “Employees are concerned that personal information will not remain confidential (43% of executives agreed vs. 27% of employees); and “Employees distrust employer motives” (24% of executives agreed vs. 11% of employees.)     
Friday
Sep122014

Clinicians Embracing mHealth – but not so much if patients are involved

By Clive Riddle, September 12, 2014 

Although lagging behind many other service sectors, healthcare clinicians do continue to their march towards the inevitable professional embrace of mobile apps, social media and other web applications – typically as long as that embrace falls short of interacting with their patients. 

Wolters Kluwer Health just released survey results on nurse practitioner use of mobile health, social media and the web. The survey was conducted on their behalf by Lippincott Solutions. 

The survey found that 65% of nurses currently use a mobile device at work for professional purposes at least 30 minutes per day, and 95% of healthcare organizations allow them to consult websites and other online resources for clinical information at work. 

The survey findings also indicated:

  • 83% of nurses perceive that their organization's policy allows patient care staff access to web sites, including social media, to access general health information regarding patient conditions
  • 48% of respondents that access health information say their organization encourages nurses to access online resources; while 41% allow for occasional use; and 5% only as a last resort
  • 89% of healthcare organizations allow nurses to use online search engines at work
  • 60% of respondents say they use social media to follow healthcare issues at work
  • 86% say they follow healthcare issues on social media outside of work
  • 20% of nurses use mobile health apps for two hours or more per day
  • Among those who use mobile devices at work, Nurse Managers, at 77%, are more likely to use them than Staff Nurses, at 58% 

But their report notes that “73% of healthcare respondents say that organizational policies strictly prohibit direct patient care staff to have social interaction with patients on social media and social sites, compared to 51% say that organizational policies prohibit direct patient care staff to have access to their organizations’ own social media pages.” 

A Walters Kluwer survey of physicians last year found that 21% of doctors didn’t use smartphones in their practice, 46% used them less than 25% of the day, and 33% used them more than 25% of the day. Regarding use of tablets, 39% of doctors didn’t use tablets in their practice, 37% used them less than 25% of the day, and 24% used them more than 25% of the day. Of those who did use mobile devices at work,  24% use mhealth apps; while 33% used their smartphones to communicate with patients, and  17% used their tablets for patient communication. 

While many integrated systems like Kaiser have structured electronic interaction with patients into their system, basic impediments for many continue to be a lack of reimbursement, as well as legal concerns about doing so. 

Yet it is exactly that interaction that their customers are asking for.  For example, Harris Poll results just released for a survey commissioned by Wellocracy found that 66% of those who have used a wearable mhealth tracker or app in the past 12 months ndicated that they would be interested in receiving personalized feedback on their health data from a trusted health expert, such as a doctor, nutritionist, fitness trainer or licensed lifestyle coach, and of those respondents: 75% would be willing to pay for personalized feedback and coaching from a doctor, and 73% from a nutritionist, nurse or dietician.

Friday
Aug222014

Towers Watson 2014 Employer Survey Results

By Clive Riddle, August 22, 2014

Towers Watson has just released results from their annual Health Care Changes Ahead Survey which “offers insights into the focus and timing of U.S. employers’ plans and perspectives related to their health benefits, and their efforts to better manage costs and employee engagement.”

Their headline takeaway? “U.S. employers expect a 4% increase in 2015 health care costs for active employees after plan design changes… If no adjustments are made, employers project a 5.2% growth rate.

Towers Watson’s Randall Abbott tells us “in the current economic climate, affordability and sustainability remain dominant influences on employers’ overall health care strategies. Expense management and worker productivity are equally critical to business results. While employers are committed to providing health care benefits for their active employees for the foreseeable future, persistent concerns about cost escalation, the excise tax and workforce health have led to comprehensive strategies focused on both year-over-year results and long-term viability for health care benefits and workforce health improvement. The emphasis is on achieving or maintaining a high-performance health plan. And CFOs are now focused on a new gold standard: managing health cost increases to the Consumer Price Index. This requires acute attention to improving program performance.”

Here’s some key employer responses from their survey findings:

  • 73% of employers said they are somewhat or very concerned they will trigger the excise tax b
  • 43% said avoiding the tax is the top priority for their health care strategies in 2015.
  • 81% plan moderate to significant changes to their health care plans over the next three years
  • Pharmacy-only cost trend is projected to be 5.3% after plan changes (6% before changes)
  • 48% are considering tying incentives to reaching a specified health outcome such as biometric targets during the next three years ( 10% intend to adopt it in 2015)
  • 37% are considering offering plans with a higher level of benefit based on the use of high-performance or narrow networks during the next three years (7% in 2015)
  • 34% of employers are considering telemedicine during the next three years (15% in 2015)
  • 33% are considering significantly reducing company subsidies for spouses and dependents during the next three years (10% have already done so; 9% intend to do so in 2015)
  • 26% are considering spouse exclusions or surcharges if coverage is available elsewhere during the next three years; (30% already do so; 7% expect to add it in 2015)
  • 30& are considering caps on health care coverage subsidies for active employees, using defined contribution approaches during the next three years (13% already have them; 3% are planning them for 2015)
  • 50% are considering full-replacement ABHPs (Account Based Health Plans) during the next three years: (17% offer only an ABHP today; 4% intend to do so for 2015, and another 28% are considering it for 2016 or 2017)
  • 76% are exploring the use of personalized digital technologies, including mobile health applications and fitness wearables

Towers Watson included a number of questions measuring the private health insurance exchange opportunity:

  • 28% have extensively evaluated the viability of private exchanges
  • 24% said private exchanges could provide a viable alternative for their active full-time employees in 2016.
  • 64% said evidence private exchanges can deliver greater value than their current self-managed model would be a top decision factor
  • 34% said adoption of private exchanges by other large companies in their industry would be a top decision factor
  • 26% said an inability to stay below the excise tax ceiling as 2018 approaches would be a top decision factor
  • 99.5% have no plan to exit health benefits for active employees and direct them and their families to public exchanges, with or without a financial subsidy.
  • 77% are not at all confident public exchanges will provide a viable alternative for their active full-time employees in 2015 or 2016.

Of course it should be noted Towers Watson has their own private exchange product, OneExchange, that serves more than 1,100 employer clients with active employee and retiree options. Towers Watson just announced that during “the first half of 2014, 45 major U.S. employers launched OneExchange for full-time, part-time or retired employees. This is the largest number of employer implementations outside the typical fall enrollment period in the private exchange’s eight years of operation.” Major new clients they listed included GameStop; International Paper; Northrop Grumman; and the State of Rhode Island.

Friday
Aug082014

Healthcare Workers Are More Confident About Their Prospects and the Future

by Clive Riddle, August 8, 2014

Randstad Healthcare, the national healthcare staffing firm, issues a quarterly report on healthcare workers’ confidence, conducted by Harris Poll, based on a survey of physicians, nurses, healthcare administrators and other healthcare professionals. Their just released second quarter 2014 report, which tells us that confidence is up for the second quarter in a row, and that healthcare workers had the highest level of confidence compared to all industries they track.

So what does that mean, that healthcare workers are increasing in confidence, are more confident than other workers, and what exactly is it that they are confident about?

The Randstad Healthcare Employee Confidence Index is a composite of various confidence measures via an online survey. The questions asked address their optimism regarding:

  • Their current employers’ outlook
  • Ability to find a new job
  • Likelihood of retaining existing job
  • Availability of other jobs
  • Strength of the economy

Key survey findings for healthcare workers included:

  • 71% have confidence in the future of their current employer, compared to 54% in the previous quarter.
  • 61% have confidence in their ability to find a new job (same as previous quarter)
  • 81% say it is not likely they will lose their jobs in the next 12 months, compared to 72 percent in Q1 of this year.
  • 28% are likely to look for a new job, compared to 33% in Q1, and 46% in Q4 2013.
  • 44% believe fewer jobs are available (compared to 48% previous quarter). 61% are confident they could find a job in the next 12 months.
  • 31% say the economy is getting stronger (compared to 29% previous quarter). 33% believe the economy is staying the same, and 37% believe it is getting weaker

Given all the political hubbub about the health care reform, it’s interesting to see that the pivotal ACA implementation year of 2014 actually brought a rise in confidence about job prospects, sector economic strength sand overall economic outlook, for those working directly in the industry. Perhaps this means that insiders don’t view the ACA as all doom and gloom.

Thursday
Jul102014

State Health Care Prison Spending by the Numbers

by Clive Riddle, July 10, 2014

The State Health Care Spending Project, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, has been monitoring and analyzing prison healthcare costs for some time, and Pew has just released a new 32-page report: State Prison Health Care Spending: An Examination.

This is on the heels of their report Managing Prison Health Care Spending first released last October, which covered the period of 2001 – 2008, and found that spending sharply increased in most states during that time period. The new report analyzes spending from 2007 – 2011 and found “state spending on prisoner health care increased from fiscal years 2007 to 2011, but it is trending downward from its peak in 2009.”

The new report concludes: “Correctional health care spending poses a fiscal challenge to state lawmakers, though evidence indicates that spending peaked at the end of the last decade. The situation posed by these expenses may be particularly acute in states where older inmates represent a relatively large proportion of the prison population. Corrections officials will be better positioned to manage their systems effectively with access to rigorous, disaggregated spending and health outcomes data that can be used to identify cost drivers and to evaluate the value and impact of cost-containment initiatives.”

Here’s a compilation of various analysis and findings from the new report, by the numbers:

4 key variable characteristics that affect delivery of health care and increase costs include: (A) Prison population trend; (B)  Older inmates, greater expense; (C) Prevalence of disease and mental illness. And (D) Location and inmate transportation.

4 strategies being used to manage costs are: (A) use of telehealth technologies; (B) outsourcing of prison health care, (C) enrollment of prisoners in Medicaid, and (D) appropriately paroling older and/or ill inmates.

37% of health care spending was on general medical care (20% was on hospitalizations; 14% on pharmaceuticals; 14% on mental health; 5% on substance abuse)

39 States saw per-inmate health care spending rise from fiscal 2007-2011, with a median growth of 10%.

41 States experienced growth in their correctional health care spending from fiscal 2007-2011, with a median increase of 13%.

34 States saw their total correctional health care spending peak before fiscal 2011

40 Of 42 states surveyed experienced a rise in the share of older inmates from fiscal 2007-2011

204% increase in the number of state and federal prisoners age 55 and older

from 1999–2012

$441 million - The amount of California’s decrease in spending from fiscal 2009 to 2011 accounting for most of the national decline of half a billion dollars during that time

$7.7 billion total prison health care spending in fiscal 2011

$8.2 billion total prison health care spending in fiscal 2009