At Collective Health, we know creating a better healthcare experience is not the job of one company. That’s why we spend a lot of time working with, and listening to, some of the most innovative companies and people working in our industry.
This month, we sat down with Brian Marcotte—President and CEO of the National Business Group on Health (NBGH). Brian works to address the most relevant healthcare issues facing employers today and enables human resource and benefit leaders to learn, share, and leverage best practices for improving health and controlling healthcare costs.
Our team is trying to bridge the gap between how health plans and ACOs talk about value and how employers recognize that value.
Is there a specific problem in healthcare that you and NBGH are trying to solve?
At NBGH, a key area of focus is how to help companies move to value purchasing faster. The concept of value is so elusive in healthcare. For example, we’ve seen an explosion in the number of commercially available Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) today, but employers don’t know how to identify those that are performing well or how they’re performing relative to the market. Health plans can’t just offer a large employer a hundred ACOs in a broad national network and expect employers to bite without explaining how they differ in their respective markets from a total cost of care, quality, and consumer experience perspective. Health plans struggle to articulate what that value is to the employer, and the employer is not clear on what to expect from these new models. Our team is trying to bridge the gap between how health plans and ACOs talk about value and how employers recognize that value.
Why do you think employers play an important role in healthcare?
Employers are the only entity in the market right now accountable for healthcare costs. They’re accountable to their shareholders and to their employees. That accountability drives change and innovation. At any given time, there are hundreds of initiatives being incubated across the large employer community in an attempt to improve the health of employees or efficiency of the healthcare system—everything from ACO and Center of Excellence strategies, to decision support services, well-being initiatives and condition management resources. I would add that because employers have a captive audience, they are in the unique position to drive the kind of change management and education necessary to support major transformation.
In my opinion, that value is often overlooked when we talk about the role of employers in healthcare and cannot be replicated in the public exchanges. The ability to innovate and educate are what make employers such an important player in healthcare.
What is the biggest challenge in health benefits right now?
We hold an annual employer summit each January that brings together innovative leaders to reflect on the past year, share what they’ve implemented for the current year, and begin to strategize where to go next. This year, we brought together one hundred large, self-insured employers and we began the day with a simple, dynamic polling question: When it comes to healthcare, what keeps you up at night?
The theme that came through loud and clear was, “engagement.” Employers provide their employees access to great health improvement and care management programs, tools and services, but getting their people engaged in those resources is a challenge.
To change that, we’re seeing the emergence of enterprise platforms and point solutions that leverage data, predictive analytics, and technology to reach people in the moment with personalized, timely, and actionable information. Take Livongo as an example—Livongo pushes messaging directly to a member’s glucose monitor with actionable steps to adjust their blood sugar when their test strips indicate they have reached a “danger zone”. This is a great example of where engagement is going. Employers need to move away from broad-based communications and zero in on solutions that target member-specific needs.