5 Health Management Trends Execs Need to Know in 2020

AI-Powered Analytics Will Predict Health Events and Lower Costs

Workplace wellness is a multi-billion-dollar industry and the Internet is flooded with articles hyping the latest must-have trends to corporate teams. From in-house chefs to company-wide meditation retreats, many of these “trends” are akin to putting a Band-Aid on a broken arm: they make a nice social media moment on Instagram but do little to actually lower costs for a company’s at-risk population. This is changing.

This year, smart analytics and intelligent personalization are allowing health management programs to move beyond basic initiatives to predict and address at-risk populations before major health issues occur, delivering cost-saving preventive care.

These are the five trends that matter for corporate wellness this year:

1. AI-powered analytics forecast future behavior and identify intervention opportunities.

“Prevention” has long been a hot healthcare buzzword yet many of today’s corporate wellness offerings continue to be built off historical data– keeping programming offerings squarely in the rearview mirror. Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered analytics are changing this. Drawing on biometric screening data, health risk assessments and pharmacy claims, data scientists are developing sophisticated algorithms. These algorithms can predict with 95 percent accuracy if someone will experience a major health event that will land them in the Emergency Room within the next 12 months.

Analytic dashboards allow companies to filter by location, demographics and health condition to determine gaps in care for at-risk populations. For example, the dashboard might reveal that that males over the age of 40 are at a high risk for heart attack in the Atlanta office while the Houston office is at risk for diabetes. Your company’s Disease Management Vendor can then coordinate appropriate interventions tailored to these different population needs. Companies will know exactly where to invest money that will make a true impact on healthcare costs and support employee well-being.

2. Lifestyle-based risk determinants expand to include behavioral and mental health concerns.

The use of AI-powered analytics to better predict which populations will be vulnerable to chronic diseases, like heart disease and diabetes, is a critical step forward for corporate wellness care. But companies can do even more by simply expanding their definition of risk determinants to include lifestyle factors such as stress level at work and on-the-job satisfaction. Just 10 percent of your health is determined by the health care you receive, according to Aetna. Lifestyle choices, social determinants and genetics impact the other 90 percent– and this is where some corporate wellness offerings can really move the needle. A more holistic understanding of risk determinants is critical to addressing treatment gaps for the behavioral health epidemic. Expect more companies to prioritize behavioral and mental health screenings.

3. Rise of specialized outpatient care lowers corporate healthcare costs and improves patient outcomes

For decades, hospital-based care was the norm. Now, patients who have been educated on the idea of “the right care at the right time in the right place,” are opting for specialized outpatient centers and ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs). For companies, this behavior modification for surgical care has a direct impact on the bottom line as specialized outpatient centers typically cost less than inpatient hospital stays. There are direct benefits for patients, too. Research finds that the ASCs have better outcomes and lower infection rates, delivering superior care over in-patient hospital procedures. Expect to see an increased focus on outpatient centers versus in-patient hospital stays– a win-win for companies battling healthcare costs and patients who deserve the highest quality care.

4. Improved data-sharing delivers on the cost-saving promise of value-based care.
Value-based care ties the cost of care to the quality of care, incentivizing providers to help patients improve their health, especially when it comes to chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. Under a value-based care system, providers align their services with positive patient outcomes, which helps to minimize costly hospitalizations and medical emergencies. While the value-based care model has grown in popularity, until recently, providers lacked the technology tools to effectively manage patients under their care and move the needle on health outcomes. This year, increased interoperability and improved data sharing will finally make it easier for providers to access the complete patient information they need to help the value-based care system realize its true, cost-saving potential.

5. Digital health gets ready for prime-time.
For years, technology companies have hyped their digital tools as the solution for lowering costs and improving care. Health apps like CaptureProof, a HIPAA-secure app for monitoring recovery status via shared photos between doctors and patients, have been in the marketplace for several years. But low adoption rates and clunky technology platforms, coupled with privacy concerns, means the full promise of digital health is yet to be realized. That's starting to change. Tech-savvy health insurance companies like Oscar Health and Bright Health are attracting significant private equity investments and venture funding– and they're pushing other health insurers to up their digital health offerings. Expect health insurers to consider new ways to use health data to drive care outcomes as technology giants like Apple, Amazon and Google join the push for lower care costs.

Scott Foster is President of Wellco, based in Michigan. Scott is a frequently-invited expert and speaker regarding leadership, engagement and high-value health & wellness.  Wellco provides award-winning solutions to measurably improve health engagement and outcomes.  For more information, contact Wellco.

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Scott Foster is President of Wellco, based in Michigan. Scott is a frequently-invited expert and speaker regarding leadership, engagement and high-value health & wellness.  Wellco provides award-winning solutions to measurably improve health engagement and outcomes.

For more information, contact Wellco.