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by Roger Kaltefleiter
Published on May 24, 2017

It's no mystery that the cost and performance of workplace health programs continue to challenge employers. Organizations that use data to help drive their workplace health strategy could have an advantage in lowering costs and improving the well-being of their employees.

Challenges to accessing and connecting data

The biggest obstacle is accessing this data. Most employers only have pieces of data about their members, often receiving data from many different supplier systems. It's difficult to gain a holistic view of the health of a population when you have disconnected, fragmented data — which in turn makes it hard to measure the impact of investments, or to create a strategic plan that addresses areas of opportunity. Until this health information is connected, organizations are unable to assess and successfully manage their populations.

Consider individuals in your population who have potentially unmanaged or undiagnosed chronic conditions. Who is at risk for health problems? What factors are driving health plan expenditures?

It's difficult to determine how to both make an impact on the overall health of a population and to lower costs without knowing the answers to these questions. Organizations must collect and connect health data in a cohesive way that provides unique insight into your population.

With this insight, employers can be better equipped to make informed, educated decisions about where and how to invest their valuable resources.

What kind of data are we looking for?

There is a vast amount of health-related data to consider, including clinical data from doctor and hospital visits, medication information, claims data, health and wellness data and absentee information. Most of this data exists in unintegrated vendor systems and programs, making it nearly impossible to have a true evaluation of a population's health.

Without a baseline understanding of where these data are and what insights they contain, how do we know what programs to implement? How do we know if the programs we have in place are making a difference? Can we create a strategy to help impact our goals, or even know what goals to set in the first place? This is why connecting the data is critical.

Microsegmenting the population

In addition to connecting clinical and claims data, it is crucial to understand an individual's health beliefs and motivations to facilitate effective engagement. For example, do individuals believe they are in control of their destiny or that luck plays a factor? Do individuals see multiple pathways to solve problems, and what is their energy level to do so?

By uncovering these motivations as they relate to health and connecting these beliefs to clinical and claims data, you can effectively micro-segment your population. Microsegmentation enables a personalized engagement approach versus a one-to-many approach, which often alienates an organization from its employees (read more about this in our blog post here).

In short, aggregating and organizing population data can help employers gain transparency into a population's health and take the necessary steps to put a plan in place. It can also engage individuals to take action. Ultimately, connecting data can help drive results and improve the health and program outcomes of a population.

Cerner is leveraging our industry-leading population health management technology platform, HealtheIntent, to connect data, aggregate information and deliver these unique insights. When you know your population's health, you can predict what will happen, engage employees to take action and manage results to improve health and care. Learn more about our workforce health solutions.

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