"There has been a big jump in the percentage of companies offering concierge services that help employees navigate where to go for care and make the best decisions," Marcotte of the NBGH said. "We are also seeing primary care models move away from the traditional fee-for-service or encounter-based reimbursement model to more comprehensive patient-centered population health management."
Many employers are also making more use of telemedicine and other forms of remote medical care. "Virtual products bring health care to the consumer rather than the consumer going to health care -- and you are seeing significant growth in this area," Marcotte said.
Hope for lowering the cost of coverage lies in these kinds of approaches, said Candice Sherman, CEO of the Northeast Business Group on Health.
"It's a shared burden that unfortunately causes financial stress for employees and their families," she said. "Many of these initiatives hold promise for improving health outcomes and overall wellness as well as lowering costs."
Candice Sherman joined the Northeast Business Group on Health in 2013 as chief operating officer, applying her skills in hunting for efficiencies while enhancing operations and revenue opportunities for the employer-led coalition of health care leaders. She was promoted to chief executive last year after impressing the board of directors with her ideas about high-value projects that could transform how health care is delivered, measured and financed in the employer marketplace. NEBGH now plays a key role in policy forums and work groups on health care quality and transparency. Sherman also is chair of HealthPass New York, an NEBGH subsidiary that is a nonprofit health insurance exchange for small businesses.
For employers, caregiving benefits are becoming a new way to attract and retain talent in a tight job market. A survey by the Northeast Business Group on Health and AARP ranked caregiving among the top 10 employee health and wellness benefits priorities for most employers.
Three recent caregiving reports (Harvard Business School’s The Caring Company, Torchlight’s “Modern Caregiving Challenges Facing U.S. Employees, and Northeast Business Group on Health’s recent caregiving survey) had similar (and important) findings regarding caregiving issues that impact thousands of employers and millions of their employees. Today’s employee caregivers are exhausted, overwhelmed and stressed as they try to juggle family responsibilities with the demands of their jobs. Without proper support from their employers, the ability to succeed at both seems out of reach.
Yelp (YELP) recently announced a partnership that will expand its hospital maternity care rating service. In collaboration with the Northeast Business Group on Health, Yelp will begin to rate the quality of maternity care at some 50 hospitals in New York. This move will expand Yelp’s maternity care rating service, which it has been operating in California in partnership with the California Health Care Foundation.
Yelp believes that rating hospital maternity care will help expecting parents to make an informed decision about where they want their baby delivered. The company also hopes the rating will encourage hospitals to improve the quality of their maternity care.
At the end of the day, Yelp hopes that expanding its maternity care rating service will make its review site more valuable to users. Yelp mostly makes money from its review platform by providing advertising services. The company’s advertising revenue increased 6.0% YoY to $227 million in the first quarter. Advertising revenue rose 26% YoY at Facebook (FB), 18% YoY at Twitter (TWTR), and 15.4% YoY at Google (GOOGL) in the first quarter.
Yelp is expanding its hospital maternity care rating service at a time when it is expected to face increased competition for women’s attention and advertising dollars after Pinterest (PINS) went public. Pinterest, which says two-thirds of its audience is female, used its IPO last month to raise $1.4 billion in additional cash that it could spend toward to compete against rivals such as Yelp.
Today Yelp will start displaying information about the quality of maternity care at about 50 hospitals in New York City and Long Island through a partnership with the Northeast Business Group on Health.
The Yelp pages for hospitals will indicate whether the facilities are above average, average or below average in their rates of Cesarean-section deliveries in low-risk pregnancies, newborns being fed only breast milk before discharge, the administering of an episiotomy and vaginal births among women who've had a previous C-section.
Maternal health experts have found that lower rates of C-sections and episiotomies and higher rates of breastfeeding before discharge and vaginal births for women who previously had C-sections are tied to better health outcomes.
The data come from expectny.com, a project of the Northeast Business Group on Health, which provides maternity-care statistics from New York state and patient-safety organization Leapfrog Group. Its work was supported by a grant from the New York State Health Foundation.
The Northeast Business Group on Health, an employer coalition focused on health benefits, linked up with Yelp to gain exposure for the maternal health data it has collected, said Candice Sherman, the business group's CEO. The ratings include a link to expectny.com where users can get more information about why it has rated hospitals on these measures.
"We know that consumers turn to Yelp for information on all manner of services," Sherman said. "Why would health care be any different? It's one of those situations where you go where the people go."
While hospital Yelp pages typically are full of anecdotes about rude doctors and nurses, long wait times and expensive bills, the website has worked to make more data available to users. It has partnered with ProPublica since 2015 to add information from medicare.gov on average ER wait times, communication with doctors and noise levels in rooms.
A spokeswoman for Yelp wrote in a post explaining the new measures that the website "exists to empower and protect consumers."
"By displaying useful maternity care metrics on Yelp, we hope to educate would-be patients about hospitals where they can receive higher-quality care and to encourage hospitals to improve the quality of care they provide," the spokeswoman wrote.
Yelp previously has worked with the California Health Care Foundation to share maternal health outcomes.
There's evidence that using Yelp to find a high-performing hospital isn't an outlandish idea. A 2017 report from researchers at the Manhattan Institute found Yelp ratings were correlated with better-quality hospitals in New York state. In the analysis, hospitals with lower rates of avoidable readmission were considered higher quality.
"We do not argue that Yelp alone is, or can be, the only guide to quality hospitals," wrote the report's authors, Paul Howard and Yevgeniy Feyman. "However, when people can choose where they will obtain care—as do patients with traditional Medicare coverage for elective or planned surgeries—or when consumers can choose among insurance options, Yelp ratings can provide a helpful guide."
Sherman said she doesn't expect the ratings to change how women choose where to give birth, but she believes it could spark conversations about whether a particular procedure related to childbirth is necessary.
"It's a place to start," she said. —Jonathan LaMantia
We’ve all scanned Yelp when we’re trying to pick a restaurant or a hotel, but it probably hasn’t occurred to you to rely on the crowd-sourced review forum when it’s time to make the important decision of the best hospital to deliver a baby. But starting today, Yelp has added maternity care metrics — starting with hospitals that deliver babies in New York City and Long Island. But let’s ask the tough question: Plenty of us barely trust Yelp reviews to tell us where to get a good hamburger; would you trust them to choose where you give birth?
This new Yelp development comes from a partnership with Northeast Business Group on Health (NEBGH) and their hospital rating site ExpectNY. Unsurprisingly, childbirth is the number one reason for hospitalizations in America and the quality of hospitals varies dramatically.
Aggregate health data can help organizations understand big picture trends, but if this data could easily be used against an employee, is that trade-off worth it?
In general, large organizations have more resources and opportunities to offer richer caregiving benefits, like leave time, but small- and medium-sized employers can get creative, said Candice Sherman, CEO of the Northeast Business Group on Health.
Even the smallest employers, she said, can do things like provide a list of nonprofits that offer services caregivers could take advantage of, she said. Also, many communities have community organizations, religiously affiliated or otherwise, that may offer relevant services.
“The more recognition there is about the fact that in any employee workforce, there are caregivers in our midst, I think employers will definitely get more creative and expansive in terms of the kinds of things they think about offering,” Sherman said.
The amount of caregiving-focused technology available to employers has grown significantly over the last three years as more players bring apps to market, says Mark Cunningham-Hill, medical director of the Northeast Business Group on Health.
As the caregiving technology space becomes more competitive, employers are faced with difficult choices when selecting the right provider for the benefit. Save for doing their own research and approaching each individual vendor, there aren’t many ways for employers to learn what’s available, he adds.
NEBGH and AARP released a guide last year for employers to follow when selecting caregiving tech for their workers. The guide lists 24 available apps with information on their user base, privacy standards and digital features. It also includes tips for selecting a best fit, like looking for a platform that also has a human supported component, either in the form of a tech coach or care coordinator.
“A lot of employers don’t know about [caregiving technologies], and the first time they hear about it is when they get a call from a vendor and they don’t know where to go,” Cunningham-Hill says. “This guide gives them the place so if any vendor comes up, at least they have a reference point.”