When employees and their covered spouses make a decision about receiving medical care for themselves or a child, particularly in an urgent situation, they often act quickly based on whatever health care option or remedy is top of mind. That might not always be the best decision, both from a health and a cost minimization perspective.

For example, when a child is suffering from a very sore throat, a parent’s instinct might be to make a beeline for the urgent care center, notes Eric Mann, vice president for product marketing at Castlight Health.

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“Even when carrots and sticks are incorporated into health plan design to encourage employees to make the best choices, if they don’t have the right information when they need it, those incentives probably won’t do the job,” says Mann.

Castlight, an enterprise health care management company, recently announced the release of a new service, Castlight Action, designed to help employers better equip employees for these everyday contingencies.

Castlight describes the product as “the first fully automated platform for benefits professionals to leverage data and predictive analytics to connect employees to the right benefits and programs.” It operates constantly, “with advanced tracking and iteration capabilities built directly into the solution,” according to the company.

Mann offers an example of how the system can work: Sifting through benefit records, Action could recognize that an employee or spouse with a young child has recently suspended renewing a prescription birth control medication. “That’s probably a good indication that she’s going to have another baby,” Mann says.

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Based on that supposition, the system would automatically generate messages about concrete steps needed to ensure a healthy pregnancy using available resources efficiently.

The messages come from Castlight, not the employer, however. It is made clear to employees that nobody in the benefits department is privy to their individual health data.

Also, the tone of messages is designed to be “appropriate and comfortable,” Mann says. Employers can review and modify messages used in particular situations well in advance, without knowing who might ultimately receive them.

No “big brother” worries

While sensitive to the “big brother” concern that employees might find it disconcerting to receive such personalized messages, Mann points out that any employee who has purchased goods online is already accustomed to being profiled, and thus receiving purchase recommendations based on their prior interaction with that company.

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Castlight says the new service allows employers to:

  • Identify opportunities to engage employees who are most likely to need care in the near future through advanced predictive models built off medical, pharmacy, and dental claims, Castlight’s own search data, demographic, and social data;
  • Automatically deliver multi-channel personalized campaigns that direct employees to connect with the appropriate benefit or vendor program, to identify high quality, lower cost providers, and to make more informed choices; and
  • Track engagement and campaign impact on a daily basis, including page views, vendor connection, provider selection, health care utilization, and more.

Richard Stolz is a freelance writer based in Rockville, Maryland.

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