April 2014 | Engaged Employers Improve Health Care
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Employers Matter

Employers have great—if, to date, underutilized—market leverage in buying health care, and often can influence other stakeholder groups. That's why AF4Q communities are partnering with employers in new and innovative ways to improve the way health care is delivered, recieved, and paid for. Today's edition of Spotlight showcases examples of AF4Q's work and lessons learned in employer engagement. 

Cincinnati Partners with Employers to Improve Care

Employers are the largest purchasers of health care in America, insuring more than 55 percent of the population. Excessive, ineffective, or harmful care costs a typical employer between $1,900 and $2,250 per employee every year.  AF4Q in Cincinnati, led by The Health Collaborative, recognizes employers play a powerful role in realizing the community goal of better health, better care, and lower costs. The Alliance is helping employers encourage their employees to become savvy consumers of health care rather than powerless patients. Concepts such as making informed choices about your treatment options, becoming a partner with your doctor in your care, and choosing high-quality care, take on a different meaning to employees and their families when the bottom line can be measured in both better health and fewer dollars and cents. The Health Collaborative works directly with local businesses by providing materials to their employer benefits managers to support conversations about health care quality and patient engagement. For employers, the benefits are many. Employees who are engaged in their care and making informed health care choices are the key to curbing the increase in the cost of health benefits. In addition, a study by the National Business Group on Health found that healthy employees are more productive and engaged. Find out how Cincinnati is successfully engaging employers here.


Engaging Employers in Payment Reform: Lessons from Wisconsin

Since 2010, The Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality (WCHQ)—a multi-stakeholder alliance working to improve quality—and the Partnership for Healthcare Payment Reform (PHPR) have worked with other organizations in Wisconsin to support providers and health plans in experimenting with innovative payment models. As part of that work, PHPR created two pilot projects: a bundled payment for total knee replacement and a shared savings project for adults living with diabetes.  However, uptake of the new bundled payment pilot and shared savings projects has been slower than expected. This prompted the question: What keeps employers from participating in initiatives that are designed to deliver better value for their health care investments?

Although there is no one-size-fits all solution, multi-stakeholder organizations can take several steps to communicate more effectively and reach receptive employers about these initiatives:

1. Develop a compelling value proposition for payment and purchasing reform initiatives
2. Meet employers where they are
3. Anticipate and address the impact on employees
4. Cast a wide net to a range of employers
5. Leverage existing channels, such as brokers, consultants, and employer coalitions

To read more about how to effectively engage employers on payment reform based on WCHQ’s experiences, click here.

Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) signature effort to lift the overall quality of health care in targeted communities, reduce racial and ethnic disparities in health care and provide models for national reform. Alliance teams represent the people who get care, give care, and pay for care.
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