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Employers and Health Data – Who is the Trusted Resource?

Health care data Resources in IowaLast week’s blog discussed a new module of questions we have included within our 2013 Iowa Employer Benefits Study©. Within this new module, employers are being asked to rate hospitals and physicians within their communities. Probing further, we included another battery of questions to gauge how employers feel about another health-related issue – identifying a reliable source to supply specific health care information to employers (and to their employees).

Frankly, these questions boil down to just one word – Trust.

Which resource does the Iowa employer trust when accessing and evaluating health care information for their employees? Would it be insurance companies? Maybe the medical provider community is most trusted, such as hospitals and/or physicians. The federal government is yet another possibility (I’m a bit suspicious, however). Perhaps, none of the above mentioned stakeholders, but instead, a trusted third party that has yet to emerge in this new evolving marketplace. Logic tells me that employers would like to use a combination of the above resources – not just one source. Much of this, I suspect, will also depend on the type of medical data that is desired by employers.

A large portion of the questions found in this particular module come from the Iowa Hospital Association (IHA). Transparency of health costs and effective health outcomes information is becoming a trendy discussion these days, with special thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The IHA has a great deal of interest in understanding how Iowa employers perceive these critical issues, and in learning more on how such information can be conveyed in a meaningful conduit of media (electronic format being the most likely culprit).

I applaud the IHA for their desire to find new ways to communicate and educate a major stakeholder (the employer) regarding local health care information. The healthcare snow globe in which we live continues to provide new opportunities for those willing to take the plunge to make our current health care ‘system’ a better place for all of us.

This particular survey module will provide us with additional insight on who should be providing this important information to Iowa employers, and what this critical information should convey.

The results of this survey will be published early this Fall by our new, sister organization, Heartland Health Research Institute.

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