SOURCE: Grand Rounds

Grand Rounds

March 03, 2014 09:00 ET

Grand Rounds Announces 2014 Employee Benefits Landscape Report

Lowering Healthcare Costs the Leading Priority for Benefits Executives; Wellness Programs Not Affecting the Bottom Line; 88 Percent Not Tracking Employee Absenteeism

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwired - Mar 3, 2014) - Grand Rounds, a company that delivers world-class outcomes to patients by connecting them with the top medical specialists in the country, today released its 2014 Employee Benefits Landscape Report. Through a survey of benefits executives from large and small enterprises representing more than 280,000 employees, the study uncovers the biggest priorities that both benefits executives and their employees should expect in 2014.

Tweet This: 2014 Benefits Survey from @GrandRoundsInc suggests cost cutting is a priority for benefits execs, but the wrong measures being used

While lowering healthcare costs is the No. 1 priority for benefits executives surveyed, the tactics currently employed for both saving and tracking healthcare costs may not be supporting that end goal of saving money. Health and wellness programs are perceived as key to keeping employees healthy for 72 percent of benefits executives, and 68 percent plan to add or change wellness programs in the coming year. However, a recent report by researchers at the RAND Corp found that wellness programs designed to get employees healthier and reduce medical costs have only a modest effect: workers who participated in a wellness program had healthcare costs averaging only $2.38 less per month than non-participants.

"Wellness program initiatives can be hugely impactful on employee engagement and overall health. But just as they don't necessarily affect enterprises' bottom lines, they may even distract from the bigger and often-overlooked healthcare-related costs," says Owen Tripp, co-founder and CEO of Grand Rounds. "Serious and chronic illnesses account for 68 percent of healthcare costs -- but employers only track diagnosis and treatment costs. Why aren't we measuring the cost of missed days, or even excess time on sick leave when employees receive the wrong diagnosis or treatment?"

Employee absenteeism costs companies billions each year, yet 88 percent of respondents do not track costs incurred from missed work. A fundamental shift may need to occur: companies need to focus on tracking the right variables and investing in the right tools. Outcomes management platforms (a priority for a third of respondents) or quality transparency tools will help enterprise benefits executives serve as a stronger resource for their employees.

Drawing on the study findings, Grand Rounds has put together three tips to help companies partner with employees and discover a healthcare solution that both empowers employees and helps employers track the right metrics for their bottom line. 

Implement and use efficient tools to ensure quality of care.
This goes beyond the FitBit or wellness programs and into real healthcare tools that both help employees track and manage their health, and help employers know where they stand. Medical "SWAT" -- an on-demand team of medical experts to answer questions immediately before patients enter the operating room -- is another tool emerging on innovative benefits executives' radars (27 percent). Medical "SWAT" is a program that could have a tremendous impact on employer costs as it ensures employees receive the right diagnosis and treatment at exactly the juncture within the healthcare cycle where costs generally spiral out of control.

Outcomes Management: The Key to Quality Transparency.
More than 33 percent of respondents believe an Outcomes Management platform would most positively affect their bottom line in the long run -- more so than healthy living benefits like gym membership discounts. Outcomes management programs focus on the quality of patient care being received, using resources such as a pre-screened network of physicians and digitized patient records to ensure a positive healthcare outcome. The benefits of outcomes management programs include decreasing healthcare costs, decreasing the length of stay and improving clinic outcomes. When asked about healthcare costs, survey respondents placed the financial blame on serious illness such as cancer (72 percent); chronic illness like diabetes (68 percent); general poor health due to things like smoking (60 percent); and injuries (24 percent). With drastic illnesses calling for drastic costs, it's important employers focus on outcomes management programs that can ensure employees receive the right treatment and quality care, leading to less time in recovery and out of the office.

Knowledge is Power.
Less than half of benefits executives (48 percent) only had "some" knowledge about the quality of doctors and hospitals in their networks and 12 percent admitted to knowing nothing. Adding insult to injury, only nine percent of benefits executives are planning to add quality transparency options for employees in 2014.

Employers need to do their research or turn to third party advisors to understand the quality metrics of the physicians in their networks. Services like Grand Rounds act as a supplement to healthcare, offering rankings of both local physicians and access to the top 0.1 percent of medical experts in the nation for second opinions via remote medicine. When it comes to choosing healthcare packages that are within your budget but offer the quality transparency your company needs, look to a 3rd party consultant. More than 35 percent of respondents indicated that consultants -- not hospitals or insurance companies -- will be the true drivers of innovation in benefits programs.

The Bottom Line.
Total cost goes up when "quick fixes" are used -- often because there's a lack of knowledge on which doctor to see when and for what illness, ultimately leading to a lower quality outcome for the patient. Employers must equip themselves with the data and knowledge necessary to ensure their employees are getting the highest quality care the first time around. In the end, the conversation must shift to quality, not cost.

To view more data from Grand Rounds' Employee Benefits Landscape Report, visit: http://info.grandroundshealth.com/GrandRounds-EmployeeBenefitsLandscape.html

About Grand Rounds
Grand Rounds is an Outcomes Management platform that delivers the best healthcare outcomes for employees at the lowest possible cost to employers. It does this by providing an end-to-end solution that connects patients with highly specialized care informed by latest best practices -- preventing complications, multiple surgeries, and failed treatments. Grand Rounds helps get employees back to work faster, while employers reap the benefits of lower medical costs and higher employee productivity. For more information, visit http://www.grandroundshealth.com.