What your employees don’t know about their doctors can hurt them and your organization’s bottom line.
The health care tools that employers typically provide to their employees focus on logistics; which providers are in network, area or accepting new patients. Many employees choose their doctors based on anecdotal or superficial information, such as referrals from people they know, social media reviews, or even the decor of the waiting room.
They’re in the dark about what really matters—how well the doctor is performing on the metrics that matter—and that means extra costs, excessive downtime, lost productivity, and worse health outcomes. And the lack of transparency goes both ways, hiding from doctors how they compare to their peers and preventing them from optimizing their work.
But some employers are giving their workforce greater visibility into the quality of their health care options so employees can make choices based on objective criteria and hard outcomes. Offering tools to share data-driven, actionable insights into the suitability, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of available providers allows employees to find high-performing physicians that match their personal needs and preferences.
The result is healthier workers, reduced absenteeism and lower costs for patients and employers.
Visibility into provider practices
Not all healthcare providers are created equal. The vast majority of doctors mean well, but some fail to keep up with the latest scientific research, charge exorbitant fees, or even recommend unnecessary procedures and treatments, needlessly inflating costs and increasing the risk of complications without improving care. Worse, it can be daunting, if not impossible, for individuals such as people of color, those who are LGBTQ+, and people who require translation to find care that meets the specific needs of their community.
Nearly 30% of doctors say nearly half of medical care is unnecessary, and about a third of the $3 trillion spent on health care each year is wasted on costs that do little to improve health.
When employees lack the insight to guide them to high-quality suppliers, they and their employers pay the price. Receiving inadequate or expensive care can directly harm employees’ health and burden them with medical expenses. It also hurts businesses, which lose an estimated $225.8 billion in lost productivity each year to employees who need medical leave.
Reducing costs, improving results
Employees don’t have to choose doctors the way restaurants do. Some organizations offer tools that help their workforce obtain independent, objective physician ratings that are science-based and based on actual patient outcomes. Individuals should evaluate the doctors they choose based on three dimensions:
- It’s care appropriate or medically necessary based on current science?
- It’s the doctor efficientfollowing the latest clinical guidelines and achieving optimal results.
- Care is provided a reasonable value compared to similar providers and services.
Many patients diagnosed with knee arthritis are referred for knee arthroscopy despite strong evidence that this expensive surgical procedure has no clear benefits. Considering knee arthroscopy rates among orthopedic surgeons provides individuals with valuable insight into the appropriateness of the care they may receive with that provider.
Similarly, the rate of removal of equipment after low back surgery is a measure of the efficiency of orthopedic surgeons. And cost-of-care estimates must account for both price differences and variations in the use of costly interventions.
Advanced statistical models can compile and transform such independent data into scores and scores that any employee can understand. And employees also need personalized physician recommendations that highlight provider specialties and cultural inclusivity. The results of this transparency are better care and lower costs for workers and businesses, reducing the need for extended leave and the likelihood of developing complications or disability. And these tools also help doctors measure their performance in the context of their peers so they can make any necessary changes.
Choosing care with care
Global retail healthcare tools and practices demonstrate the benefits of such high-quality, outcomes-based, personalized care.
In 2013, the retail giant launched its Centers of Excellence program to give employees access to top professionals, with treatment and travel covered in most cases. A patient with chronic mild neck pain had seen a doctor who had referred him to a local clinic for surgery. But after the company sent him to a top spine specialist in another state, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which required different treatments. The patient avoided unnecessary surgery and the company saved $30,000.
At the company’s centers of excellence, more than half of spine patients avoid surgery, and those who need it spend 14% less time in the hospital. They are also 95% less likely to need readmission and return to work more than two weeks sooner on average than those who have not undergone Centers of Excellence.
Any employer can bring these benefits of quality care to their workforce. Florida’s Polk County Public Schools is using technology that supports personalized, outcomes-based care to help its 14,000 employees and their families easily find the doctors who provide the best care in the right context at the most reasonable cost.
Knowledge is power
Nothing is more important than health. All employees should be empowered to make important medical care decisions based not only on whether doctors carry their insurance, but also, more importantly, on solid, objective data about how they are performing and what they are doing. choices to make (and not to make).
Access to relevant health care information and insights allows employees to identify physicians who consistently deliver appropriate, effective, cost-effective care, and it allows them to use that information to make smarter, more personalized health care choices than ever before. And that can lead to a healthier, happier, stronger workforce.
Every worker is also sick. And every patient deserves to have correct information about his health. Your employees can’t afford to leave their health to chance, and neither can your organization.
To learn how Embold Health’s physician measurement engine can improve employee outcomes and reduce overall costs, visit www.emboldhealth.com.