Several years ago, Mercer identified four areas where we believe change is most needed to create a more rational health care marketplace. They are: pay for value, drive to quality, personalize the experience and embrace disruption. What exactly do we mean by embrace disruption? Well…. it means leveraging constant changes in the system with internal stakeholders and external partners to the best advantage of your employees and your organization.
The list of possible external partners is changing all the time. In addition to several large hospital system mergers currently in process, there have been some interesting announcements lately:
- CVS is buying Aetna
- Cigna is buying Express Scripts
- Walmart might buy Humana
- Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan announce partnership to change health care
These announcements invite us to ponder what each could bring to the market that might not exist today. We like to quote one of our colleagues at Oliver Wyman, who said: “Within three years, 1 in 3 Americans will be buying a different insurance product than they do today, through a channel that didn’t exist three years ago, receiving 30% of their care outside of a traditional health system.”
So what steps you can begin to take to prepare the benefits team and your internal stakeholders to embrace the healthcare disruption that is already underway, as well the change we can’t foresee? Here are three ideas:
- Get good data, turn it into information and share it internally. What are your biggest cost drivers? What access challenges exist with your population, if any? Where are there the biggest variations in cost and quality for healthcare services the plan pays for?
- Learn as much as you can about healthcare delivery in your locations with the most employees. Have hospitals and providers developed Accountable Care Organizations? Any interesting provider partnerships or initiatives? If you don’t know, or don’t know how to find out, ask your vendors or talk directly to the providers.
- Find out what your employees think about health care today. Conduct focus groups or a survey. Are they able to get appointments in a timely manner? Have they tried telemedicine and if not, why not? Would they be interested in accessing care in a retail setting? If you offered a smaller network of only high-quality providers, would they be interested? You can learn about these trends from other research – but it might be more helpful to have your own research. Better not assume you know the answer to these questions for your population – that can lead you down the wrong path.
Change is often difficult. But with enough drive, opportunity and supporting data, you can use change to make something good happen. And that, my friends, is the kind of disruption we want and need.