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2019 Iowa Employer Benefits Study© is Now Available!

2019 Iowa Employer Benefits Study©The 2019 Iowa Employer Benefits Study© overall summary is now available! As we have done with recent studies, we are providing this summary report through an electronic download only, rather than a printed hard copy.

The press release for this Study will be issued tomorrow, August 8.

As mentioned in a previous blog, we had 999 Iowa organizations participate in this year’s survey, reaching our goal of 1,000 respondents. In addition to the standard benefit questions presented each year, we asked organizations to share data on whether work-life and convenience benefits were offered by Iowa organizations, benefits that are highly-valued by employees.

If your organization participated in this year’s survey, we sincerely thank you for sharing your data with us and for your patience while the report was being published. We realize that many employers wish to use the results of this important Study during the fall enrollment process. On July 10th, participants in this Study were sent an email from us with a unique link to gain access to this report (at no cost).

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Again, we greatly appreciate your interest in this 20th study!

To stay abreast of employee benefits, we invite you to subscribe to our blog.

Coming Soon! 20th Iowa Employer Benefits Study©

Coming Soon! 2019 Iowa Employer Benefits Study©We are very pleased that about 1,000 Iowa employers have responded to our 2019 Iowa Employer Benefits Study©! This number met our goal of having at least 1,000 organizations participate in our 20th survey. The results of this study will be available Wednesday, August 7th.

As we prepare to release our 20th Study, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The Overall Summary of the 2019 Iowa Employer Benefits Study© will be available for download from our website.
    • Employers who participated in the 2019 Survey were sent an email on July 10 to download this report using a specific pass code.
    • Employers who did not participate in the 2019 Survey will be able to download this Overall Summary for a small fee.

We have also updated our benchmarking program – Lindex®  allowing employers to compare their specific benefit offerings with other Iowa employers. Lindex® was developed with simplicity and intuitiveness in mind. In addition to learning how your benefits package compares with other Iowa organizations (using pertinent criteria such as employer size and industry), employers will be able to learn their individual Lindex® score and how their total benefits package compares to Iowa norms. There are some very sophisticated aspects about this benchmark program that will be extremely helpful to employers of all size and industry!

Our 2019 Iowa Employer Benefits Study© and/or Lindex® benchmarking program will be available for purchase beginning August 7. You will be able to purchase the Study on this website.

How can employers determine their Lindex® score?

You can either contact DPLB to learn more or visit with your authorized-benefits consultant to develop your Lindex® score. If your consultant does not currently participate in the Lindex® program, have them contact DPLB to learn how!

An easy way to stay informed is to subscribe to this blog.

Electronic Health Records – The Bane of Medical Progress?

For years, indeed decades, Americans have reluctantly confronted the traditional ritual of having to manually complete paperwork before seeing a healthcare provider. Recollection of dates, medical conditions, and other important and critical medical details are challenging to put on paper prior to meeting with a new provider unfamiliar with our past medical history. Additionally, obtaining access to personal health records from one health provider to another has been a test of endurance for patients and caregivers alike.

With these and countless other challenges of providing accurate, up-to-date, and complete information about patients at the point of care, it is no wonder that a push to overlay medical records with sophisticated technology was long overdue. Electronic health record (EHR) goals are widely accepted to be the rocket fuel that helps ignite a very complex and grossly underperforming U.S. healthcare system:

  • Enable quick access to patient records for more coordinated, efficient care
  • Securely share electronic information with patients and other clinicians
  • Help providers to more effectively diagnose patients, reduce medical errors, and provider safer care
  • Improve patient and provider communication and enable health care ‘convenience’
  • Enable safer, more reliable prescribing
  • Promote legible, complete documentation and accurate coding and billing
  • Enhance privacy and security of patient data
  • Help providers improve productivity and work-life balance
  • Enable provider to improve efficiency and meet their business goals
  • Reduce costs by having decreased paperwork, improved safety, reduced duplication of testing and improved health

Yet, this belief that EHRs will enhance efficiency and promote safe and effective care may not be hitting its intended bull’s-eye – at least for the present time. A recent joint article, “Death By 1,000 Clicks: Where Electronic Health Records Went Wrong,” researched and written by Kaiser Health News and Fortune Magazine reveals that EHRs have grossly underperformed on many key fronts.  In fact, EHRs are proving to have more unintentional consequences that cause patient harm and accentuate job burnout for many providers using them.

Applying shovel-ready financial stimulus money to jump start the economy during the Great Recession, which began in 2007, the federal government, thanks to legislators passing the HITECH Act in February of 2009, infused a huge chunk of change ($36+ billion) to incentivize hospitals and physicians to embrace health information technology into their practices.

How many other industries are given ‘free’ government money to motivate the use of information technology? Off the top of my head, very few – if any. Usually, due to market forces dictating improved efficiencies, most business sectors allocate their own financial resources to reinvest in information technologies. I realize there are tax incentives for doing this, but having manna fall from the sky – much like HITECH – is truly a gift that should have paid great dividends to all – including U.S. taxpayers.

In fairness to healthcare providers and software vendors, the HITECH approach was much too optimistic and ambitious to succeed during a relative short period of time. As this story indicates, there were too many cooks in the kitchen, in addition to the crazy requirements that software vendors required of their healthcare clients, including gag-clauses on flawed software.

Since implementation of the HITECH Act, there have been thousands of reports of deaths, injuries and near misses linked to the shortcomings of digital systems. Equally frustrating is that many patients continue to report difficulties on receiving copies of their complete electronic files. Take heart, however, proposed federal rules by the Department of Health and Human Service should, according to Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), “make it easier for patients to more quickly access, use and understand their personal medical information.”

Because the U.S. has many different software manufacturers in the healthcare space, each attempting to maintain their own ‘proprietary’ domain for exclusivity purposes, the EHRs are similar to the existence of diverse human languages that occurred in Genesis 11 when many different languages were spoken during the construction of the Tower of Babel.

With new scrutiny of the current EHRs, it is time to re-calibrate the existing cocktail of EHR-systems and determine what makes the most sense to patients, providers – and taxpayers. Singing from the same sheet of music would be a great start.

To stay abreast of employee benefits and healthcare issues, we invite you to subscribe to our blog.