This installation of CenterStage, features Logan Dickinson, an original founder of Forté Benefits. He is one of six partners at Forté and has over 30 years of benefit experience. Logan has provided insight on analytics for employee benefits and what that means for plan design, strategy and your bottom line.

Data analytics is a continuing trend that has gained popularity in the recent years. As a true team of forward thinking consultants, Forté Benefits has been utilizing analytics in benefit design and plan management for the last 20 years. Over the last 10 years, Forté has harnessed newer technology to improve the level of analytics provided.

Logan explained, “Technology has enabled our analytics to go beyond the basic performance of a plan and focus on how the plan is being utilized by all the members, identifying potential future costs due to like chronic conditions.”

Most employers don’t have access to the data, so they cannot pinpoint the cost drivers of their plan. Data analysis plays an early role in the 360° Perspective™ process, a process that accounts for factors impacting your overall cost, now and in the future, and delivers a “blueprint” or action plan for designing and executing your benefit strategy. Data analysis allows for employers and their benefit specialist to make good decisions on plan design or strategy by analyzing the way members utilize their plan. This type of analysis identifies what the cost divers are and where improvements can be made in places like employee engagement, education and cost control. Without data analytics, an employer is at a real disadvantage.

Here is an example: Let’s say someone is pre-diabetic and is supposed to get their blood tested every 6 months, but instead they simply go to an urgent care when issues arise. This is an instance where data can be incredibly powerful. Analytics allow an employer to classify this person in a higher risk category and focus on correcting issues through coaching and education. By identifying and reducing risk, costs decrease as well.

Analytics Benefit Everyone
Due to data’s power to ensure the overall effectiveness of health plans, analytics can benefit everyone. Analytics and reporting are generally used for employers with over 100 employees or any employer who self-funds their health benefits plan. Access to data analysis further makes the case for large employers considering self-funding. Fully insured and smaller employers are trickier, because insurance companies limit the data that the consultant can use.

The Future Of Analytics
For the most part, people make benefit decisions consistently in the same way. As data is collected by demographic, age, location, etc. we are able to predict what utilization patterns look like and determine what future risks and potential costs are.

With the world being dominated by millennials, software for analytics is already aiming toward AI. A recent survey proved that the USA is leading the race in AI adoption with China closely behind. Logan notes that employers should be aware of the upcoming changes of technology and be in a position to utilize them in the analysis and overall management of their health plans.

Here is an example: Let’s say you have a middle-aged woman that is overweight, hypertensive, on blood pressure medication, lives in a rural area and has a history of going to the ER. AI would be able to use similar scenarios like hers to predict how she will use her benefits. This type of data driven prediction also makes a strong case for wellness programs and better communication of effective messaging.

Looking At The Big Picture
The big question employers need to ask themselves is, “Is my advisor currently providing me with insight into how my plan is really performing behind the curtain?” This is because, if you don’t have an idea of what is going on behind the scenes, you likely aren’t getting a full picture of your plan efficiency or effectiveness. Think about your health plan from a theatrical perspective. As an audience member, you see the final performance, but you never see what happens backstage, behind-the-scenes, or at rehearsals leading up to show time. It’s everything going on backstage that Forté does in analytics to create a better performance outcomes on the front stage. “The truth is always in the data,” said Logan. “Our job is to educate our clients on every aspect of their plan and provide them with the leadership they need.”

You can download the PDF here for further information.