What your employees don’t know about their doctors could hurt them—and your organization’s bottom line.
The healthcare tools that employers typically provide to their employees focus on logistics: which providers are in network, in the area, or accepting new patients. Most 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 counts—how well a doctor performs on the metrics that matter—and that translates into unnecessary 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 performance.
However, some employers are giving their workforce more visibility into the quality of their health care options so employees can make choices based on objective standards and hard outcomes. Offering tools to share data-driven, actionable insights into the suitability, effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of available providers enables employees to find high-performing physicians that match their personal needs and preferences.
The result is healthier workers, reduced absenteeism and lower costs for both patients and employers.
Visibility into delivery practice
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 people like people of color, people who are LGBTQ+, and people who need translation to find care that aligns with the specific needs of their community.
Nearly 30% of doctors say nearly half of medical care is unnecessary, and nearly a third of the $3 trillion Americans spend on health care each year is wasted on expenditures that do little to improve health.
When employees lack insight to guide them to high-quality providers, they and their employers pay the price. Receiving substandard or overpriced care can directly harm workers’ health and burden them with excessive medical bills. It also hurts businesses, which lose an estimated $225.8 billion in productivity each year from employees needing medical leave.
Reduce costs, improve results
Employees don’t have to choose doctors the way they choose restaurants. Some organizations offer tools to help their workforce access independent, objective, science-based physician evaluations based on real patient outcomes. People should evaluate the doctors they choose based on three metrics:
- It’s caring suitable or medically necessary based on current science?
- He is the doctor effectivefollowing the latest clinical guidelines and achieving optimal results?
- Care is provided to a reasonable cost compared to that of similar providers and services?
Many patients diagnosed with knee arthritis are referred for knee arthroscopy despite strong evidence that this high-cost surgery has no clear benefits. Examining knee arthroscopy rates among orthopedic surgeons provides individuals with valuable information about the appropriateness of the care they could receive with that provider.
Similarly, the rate of material removal after low back surgery is a way of measuring the effectiveness of orthopedic surgeons. And the assessment of the cost of care must take into account both price differences and variations in the use of costly interventions.
Advanced statistical models can aggregate and transform independent data like this into ratings and scores that every employee can understand. And workers also need personalized physician recommendations that factor in provider specialties and cultural integration. The results of this transparency are better care and lower costs for both workers and businesses, reducing the need for extended leave and the potential for complications or disabilities. And these tools also help doctors measure their performance against their peers so they can make the necessary changes.
Choosing care with care
A global retailer’s healthcare tools and practices demonstrate the benefits of such high-quality, results-based, personalized care.
In 2013, the retail giant established the Centers of Excellence program to give employees access to top specialists, with treatment and travel covered in most cases. A colleague with chronic mild neck pain had seen a doctor who had referred him for surgery at a local clinic. But after the company sent him to a top spine specialist in another state, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which required a different treatment. The patient avoided unnecessary surgery and the company saved $30,000.
More than half of spine patients at the company’s Centers of Excellence 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 earlier on average than those who did not go through Centers of Excellence.
Any employer can offer these benefits of quality care to their workforce. Polk County Public Schools in Florida uses 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 price.
Knowledge is power
Nothing matters more than health. All employees should be empowered to make high-risk decisions about medical care based not only on whether doctors receive their insurance, but also, more importantly, on sound, objective data about how they are performing and what they choose to do (and not do);
Access to relevant health care information and insights enables employees to identify physicians who consistently provide appropriate, effective, cost-effective care and 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 a patient. And every patient deserves to have the right information about their health care. 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 spend, visit www.emboldhealth.com.