How Can Companies Use Big Data to Improve Healthcare Benefits?

In this day and age, you'd be hard pressed to find a sector that hasn't been significantly impacted by the emergence and increasing popularity of big data - and human resources management is no exception. Thanks to big data, HR management has the ability to use data analytics to make informed choices, meet business objectives, improve benefits coverage for employees and drive down healthcare costs.

Making big data work for you

That being said, big data doesn't just appear in front of a company in a usable form. Rather, enterprises need to develop an awareness and understanding of the available technology that can help them sift through the enormous amount of information out there that's ready for collection, with the ultimate goal of separating the wheat from the chaff to gain actionable insights. This is true of many types of data, but particularly the kind related to health and benefits, noted Al Adamsen of the Talent Strategy Institute at this year's HR® Technology Conference and Expo.

"When it comes to using data and a focused approach to optimize business decisions, one of the most critical needs is for healthcare," said Adamsen, as quoted by Forbes. "As a top-three employer expense, growing 5 to 7 percent every year, organizations must understand how their employees are using and interacting with their healthcare benefits. To do this, analytics capabilities must move from descriptive to predictive and prescriptive."

Firms need to prioritize health-related data

Given the importance of healthcare coverage within an organization - not to mention the fact that employer expenses associated with health and wellness are growing every year - you'd think that companies would be eager to glean as much insight as possible via actionable analytics. However, this appears to not always be the case, observed Anumeha Goel, analytics strategist at Castlight Health. According to Goel, the vast majority of employers are still in the dark about what is driving health-related trends within their organizations, from benefits enrollment choices to common ailments among members of the workforce.

Deploying an HR data analytics platform

By implementingthe Benefitfocus Platform , employers are well equipped to draw upon data from hundreds of sources and use that information to analyze, plan and monitor the health-related costs and risks that exist within their organizations.

Thanks to the ability to analyze claims and utilization records, test different plan designs through the creation of "what if" scenarios, create employee health scorecards, highlight gaps in care and translate esoteric data into actionable information, firms that leverage this HR software are well-positioned to identify trends, draw meaningful conclusions and engage in informed decision-making. Enterprises that deploy such platforms can offer their employees a superior benefit enrollment process, provide coverage that closely ties into the individual needs of workers and their families, improve their bottom lines and open themselves up to a whole new level of visibility.