We live in a time of uncertainty. Demographic diversification, worldwide political instability, economic insecurity and technological disruption all combine to create a turbulent environment for us to navigate daily. And with the American healthcare system the way it is, strategic change – specifically with respect to benefits programs – is imperative for organizations to make sure their people are taken care of. But what’s the best way to go about this?
At One Place 2015, we had Dr. Jeffrey Bauer on hand to shed some light on the matter. Drawing from his expertise in healthcare, economics and statistics, he discussed how organizations can identify real opportunities for improvement through informed analysis of trends and possible outcomes. Here’s a summary of what he had to say:
Our healthcare system is still a mess
In order to initiate strategic change, you first have to understand the factors that make up the current climate. For healthcare, it’s not pretty:
- 30 cents of every healthcare dollar is squandered on unnecessary or poorly delivered services.1
- A small population of high-cost individuals (i.e. those with chronic conditions) accounts for half of all healthcare spending.
- Most people can’t afford increasing out-of-pocket costs for an unexpected injury or illness.
- The Affordable Care Act is too flawed to fix things.
Bottom line: The United States has arguably the most confusing, least cost-effective healthcare system in the world, and organizations are on their own to avoid being crushed by it.
Predicting vs. Forecasting
With that in mind, you now have to understand the difference between predicting and forecasting, and why forecasting is better when it comes to strategic change.
Predicting deals with simply extrapolating historical trends. It can be great when you know that how things worked in the past will be the way they work in the future. But as you can see from the previous section, American healthcare is not a market in which this is the case.
Forecasting, on the other hand, deals with estimating the probabilities of possibilities. It takes things a step further by expecting multiple outcomes simultaneously and acknowledging the chance of unprecedented or unexpected outcomes. Forecasting allows you to be more creative and, ultimately, take meaningful action towards a better future.
It’s all about the data
Naturally, a forecast is only as good as the data that goes into it. But most organizations lack sufficient access to their data and the tools necessary to put that data to work. With the right technology, though, you can harness the power of your health data to forecast the impact of changes to your benefits program. This allows you to make truly informed decisions and give your employees the protection they need to face uncertainty with confidence.
Learn more about how Benefitfocus can help you forecast and turn your healthcare data into cost-saving action.