Diane Hess.j26.jpg

Diane Hess is executive director of the Central Penn Business Group on Health, an affiliate of the Lancaster Chamber. 

Early in 2016, the board of directors of what was then called the Lancaster County Business Group on Health made the decision to embrace the role of data aggregator for health care data for our area.

As an independent resource for employers providing health care benefits for their employees, the business group was created in 1984 by a group of employers concerned about the cost and quality of employer-sponsored health care benefits.

With the change to more regional ownership of our providers, the organization expanded its reach to include employers in Adams, Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties in 2017 and changed its name to the Central Penn Business Group on Health.

Our mission still is to promote the continuous improvement in the quality and cost of health care, and our vision is to be able to bring together all of the stakeholders to fulfill our mission.

Although Central Penn Business Group on Health has a long history of working with area employers to provide solutions for the ever-escalating cost of providing health care benefits, we knew that to continue in our role, we needed more detailed information about health care costs in our region.

In the fall of 2016, this need for data led to the formation of our partnership with Innovu, a Pittsburgh-based data analytics company. The Innovu platform has three views into the data based on specific perspectives:

— Employers gain insight into what is happening with their covered members.

— Advisers gain insight into what is going on in their clients’ plans.

— Central Penn Business Group on Health and other coalitions like it across the country gain regional insight from de-identified information on the total population reporting for the region.

Fast-forward almost two years, and the Central Penn Business Group on Health, in collaboration with Innovu, is now able to analyze the data we have been acquiring from area employers.

To date, our cohort has combined data from 100 different employers, in both the public and private sectors, whose health plans covered more than 80,000 people in 2017. The data comes from seven different medical carriers and six different pharmacy benefit managers. This in itself is no small achievement.

In the past 12 months, these 100 different employers paid over $380 million in medical and prescription drug claims. This volume of reporting allows us to begin to share what the data is telling us.

At the Lancaster Chamber offices on Wednesday, we have planned our first data reveal. Our presentation will include analysis on such topics as the changing demographics of our employed and covered populations, chronic disease prevalence, employee cost-share benchmarks, and comparisons of the cost of care for certain procedures across the region’s health care providers.

As anyone who works with data knows, this is not the beginning or end of our journey, but one stop along the way.

In the words of former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, “The goal is to turn data into information, and information into insight.”

Our goal is to use the insight we gain to have meaningful discussions with regional stakeholders about emerging trends and the need for quality, transparent care options for covered employees and family members.

We also will use what we have learned to guide us as we plan future programs and service offerings.

As Henry Ford famously said, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”

• Diane Hess is executive director of the Central Penn Business Group on Health, an affiliate of the Lancaster Chamber. For more information, or to register for the “Data Reveal,” visit cpbgh.org.

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