Key takeaways from Conference Board’s Health Care Conference: Integration and predictive analytics are key

Sometimes, all you need is one slide. Debra Canales, CHRO of Providence Health & Services, perfectly summed up the competing challenges, forces and dynamics that exist in the health and benefits space today, as well as many of the major themes of the 15th Annual Health Care Conference.


Debra explained that not only are employers and benefits leaders challenged, but employees and members are struggling to understand their benefits, plan design and how to maximize the offerings their employer provides.

Both the New York and San Diego conferences were packed with discussions around the ACA, the exchanges, employee engagement and best-in-class solutions to help solve the “healthcare problem.” There were, however, two major themes that were most definitely top of mind for employers.

Here are the key takeaways:

Theme #1: Prevent unnecessary waste through predictive analytics and proactive intervention

Employers are trying to get ahead of the spending curve and proactively manage employee health and looking for predictive analytic solutions. General Dynamics, Director of Benefits Strategy, Bob Restivo, said it best when he described the challenging conversations he has with his CFO when he shows them their plan’s performance each year, “Why do you always show me what already happened? What am I supposed to do with this?”

Next generation analytic solutions will predict who the “high spenders” will be and enable plan sponsors to intervene to ensure unnecessary waste is avoided.

Theme #2: Increasing vendor integration to optimize employee experience and engagement

Employer speakers and attendees consistently spoke about the changes they’ve made over the past five years including plan consolidation, migration to CDHPS, the introduction of HSA vendors, COEs, expert medical opinions, transparency and telehealth solutions. The next big initiative will be ensuring employees understand each of these elements and are engaged. In practice, this will mean that their members can easily access the right care, at the right place, right time and right price. Case in point, General Mills’, Director of Global Benefits, Jeanne Denz stressed that their focus for the year to come would be on collaborating with, and “pushing” vendors to deliver new and integrated solutions.

Most plan sponsors seem to be accomplishing this today through a mix of enterprise healthcare platforms and concierge/third-party advocates, but all believe there are opportunities for further integration and streamlining to a true enterprise healthcare hub.

But that’s not all! Here’s what we’re seeing:

Innovative companies are using data and analytics to identify key patterns, trends and opportunities for improvement, enabling them to gain insights into which initiatives are working, which are not, and to adjust accordingly.

Castlight is already helping companies to do this. For example, one of our customers, a leading consumer-goods packaging company with long-standing challenges with employee engagement and healthcare spend, was seeing emergency room visits at a much higher rate than the national benchmark. Looking into the data with Castlight Insights, they found that one specific manufacturing plant was driving the trend. Additional analysis showed that employees using ERs inappropriately were mainly night-shift workers.

By integrating and promoting an existing telehealth benefit into the Castlight platform, the customer was able to increase their employee’s access to non-ER care. Additionally, with support by the Castlight User Growth team, the benefits team launched a campaign that included in-person educational presentations for plant personnel.

The result? Emergency room visits decreased by 21%, while telehealth usage soared by 9x—reducing costs and increasing productivity at the plant. Overall, Castlight users at this company enjoyed a 9% reduction in overall healthcare expenses, for combined savings in excess of $1.2 million. The percentage of employees registered with Castlight has increased to 54%, and will continue to grow.

Enough from us; now it’s your turn. Download our guide to learn how you can empower your employees to become healthcare consumers!