Six steps to transforming your employee health benefit to population health

Organizations use a variety of tactics to try to encourage healthy lifestyle choices among employees. But while initiatives like offering easier access to gyms and healthy food can lead to improved employee engagement and productivity, they rarely reduce benefits costs.

To reduce the total cost of care—and improve employee health—leading organizations are applying population health strategies to their employee benefit plan. Want to do the same? You'll need to follow these six steps.

For all employees, you need to:

1. Sort them by risk

To give each employee the right level of support, you first need to sort your employees into groups. We recommend sorting them into three groups: high-risk, rising-risk, and low-risk employees.

The most successful population health managers focus on risk factors—such as obesity, high blood pressure, and depression—to segment their population, rather than grouping employees by specific diseases.

2. Engage them in their care

No matter which risk group employees are in, you have to encourage them to change their behavior and engage with the care they need.

3. Measure the success of your strategy

Across all groups of employees, you have to track and measure whether you are actually reducing costs and improving employee health. This is especially important if you hope to demonstrate your population health expertise to other employers.

After you sort your employees by risk, you should take the following steps for each individual risk group:

4. Target care management to highest-cost employees

Your high-risk—and highest-cost—employees need one-on-one intensive care management. This is a strategy HR has used for years, and it's still the right answer.

Learn more about how to target, deploy, and assess case management

5. Staff the advanced medical home for rising-risk employees

One-on-one care management is too resource-intensive to scale to rising-risk employees, since there are many more employees in this category. To care for this group, leading organizations are using the advanced medical home.

6. Keep low-risk employees loyal to the system

Healthy, low-risk employees don't need (or even want) much support on a day-to-day basis. They simply want easy access to care when they need it. This means your population health strategy is to keep these employees—and their dollars—within your network.

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