Click here to read the full article in Forbes l Reporter: Shama Hyder
Employers have been implementing incentives to improve health for decades. In-office weight loss competitions, fitness competitions, free gym memberships, easy access to blood pressure monitoring—all these things are designed not only to help employees stay healthy, but to decrease health insurance costs as well.
With the advent of biotech and “smart health” plans, however, employer health plans are going further when it comes to incentivizing employee health. Especially, as more employees work remotely or in a hybrid environment.
One Tampa Bay-based health tech company, BeniComp, is becoming a major player in this area, introducing smart solutions to improve employee health.
The family-run company first launched back in 1962 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. BeniComp’s current CEO, Doug Short, took the reins from his father and created the platform IncentiCare, which is being lauded as a potential model for reformation of the nation’s healthcare system.
I spoke with Steve Presser, president at BeniComp, about the evolving role in healthcare that he sees biotech and medtech taking in the coming years.
Reducing healthcare costs for individuals and municipalities
IncentiCare’s mission is to save the city of Tampa Bay hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars in healthcare costs. It’s a two-pronged approach, according to Presser: first, they’re hoping to empower employers to take control over their healthcare expenses through predictive risk models; and second, they want to give employees more incentives to control their own health and wellness.
The plan’s outcome-based model motivates 96% participation in health screenings by allowing employees to earn as low as $0 deductible based on the health of five key biomarkers: blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol, Body Mass Index, and tobacco use.
These biomarkers were chosen because they’re directly linked to chronic disease, and are also controllable through lifestyle habits such as nutrition, sleep, exercise, stress/anxiety management and substance cessation.
Reducing employer healthcare costs through big data
IncentiCare takes a deep dive into a company’s health insurance data to expose hidden risks, wasteful spending and areas where cost reductions make sense.
The IncentiCare team then activates specific cost containment components that bridge the gaps and align with the company’s values of transparency and high quality.
Through IncentiCare’s data analysis, the clinical team is able to see nearly all of the hidden health risks within a population. They identify those risks with the company’s proprietary software, and proactively reach out to people with illnesses and conditions in early stages before they become large events and costly claims.
But this certainly doesn’t mean that IncentiCare thinks employers should be the ones in charge of individuals’ data.
“We believe individuals should be empowered with secure control over their own health data and decisions,” Presser said. “Currently most health records live inside hospital systems that do not make it easy for patients to access or share. The result is duplicate testing and expense, less freedom of choice, and poor coordination of care. The healthcare system of the future needs to empower consumers with control of their own health data.”
Supporting preventive medicine and care for chronic disease
The first biggest challenge facing the healthcare industry, Presser says, is the prevalence of chronic disease. “Covid-19 affected (and continues to affect) individuals with chronic conditions dramatically worse than healthy people. If you are a high-risk individual due to chronic disease, and are exposed to Covid-19, the main option you have right now is to react. Reactivity is what our entire system is based upon: diagnose and prescribe.”
Through its predictive modeling and incentives, IncentiCare is designed to sustain [individuals’] health and reverse health risks before experiencing symptoms that require a diagnosis.”
Smart medicine, medtech, and biotech are transforming medicine—from the way doctors see patients, to how patients are diagnosed, to how doctors continue their education and perform surgeries. With the right focus on privacy, autonomy, and transparency, these technologies could result in greater access to affordable, safe healthcare for all.