One idea for employers to control healthcare costs? Partner with hospitals, Verily exec suggests

The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened some of the challenges employers face when managing the healthcare costs of their employees. But opportunity lies in new employer-hospital partnerships, a Verily executive wrote in a June 15 article for the Harvard Business Review.

Vivian Lee, MD, president of health platforms at Verily and a senior lecturer at Harvard Medical School in Boston, said partnering with hospitals and health systems could help employers better manage their healthcare costs and premiums. Health insurance premiums are slated to rise in 2021, largely driven up by the sheer uncertainty of setting rates amid a pandemic.

Dr. Lee said employers shouldn't settle for a short-term fix like raising copayments, deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses for 2021, which may reduce costs immediately but could lead to employees putting off treatment and higher costs down the road. Rather, one thing they should do, in addition to using digital health and being rigorous about their health benefit purchases, is look at new partnerships with hospitals and health systems.  

Dr. Lee said employers and hospitals can use partnerships to learn from each other about how to improve operations. Employers, for one, can offer their industry-specific knowledge to hospitals that may inform them how to provide more cost-effective and patient-friendly care. She added that if employers serve on hospital committees or governing boards, employers can better understand the care their employees are receiving. 

"If the CEOs of businesses have much to learn about healthcare, perhaps healthcare has much to learn from these CEOs," Dr. Lee said.

Read the full article here

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