HealthJoy and Springbuk on Tuesday announced a new partnership aimed at reducing healthcare costs for employers. HealthJoy, based in Chicago, offers an employee engagement and cost containment platform with a mobile app and a virtual assistant named Joy. Springbuk, based in Indianapolis, offers healthcare analytics software.

“We try to make healthcare easier for employees and hold their hand throughout the year, whether it’s how to find a doctor or find a lower-cost medicine or where to have a procedure done,” says Doug Morse-Schindler, president of HealthJoy.

Springbuk provides up-to-date claims data that can inform the advice that employees receive about healthcare decisions. The claims data includes recently filled prescriptions, office visits, hospitalizations, medical imaging and other procedures.

With the combined service, “we can reach out to the member based on what we see their activity is, and we can have a conversation with them. The goal of that conversation is to help them make a better decision and change their behavior,” Morse-Schindler says.

For example, HealthJoy might contact a patient with suggestions about lower-cost medicines, mail-order options or cash options in order to save money for the employer and the patient, based on their plan design, network and formulary.

Proactive conversation

In some cases, HealthJoy might call a patient to suggest a low-cost facility for an ultrasound or recommend getting a second opinion about a surgery. If someone is considering a knee replacement, they might discuss whether physical therapy would be an appropriate alternative, for example.

“It’s going from reactive to a much more proactive type of conversation,” Morse-Schindler says.

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Patients aren’t always aware of the various treatment options available to them, and cost information can be difficult to find. “People don’t always know what to do. Healthcare is confusing and complex and potentially very costly,” Morse-Schindler says.

When employers offer the combined service, employees are not required to participate. Anyone concerned about the privacy of their health information can opt out. But, with pharmacy costs continually rising, employers and benefit advisers are eager to find new tools to lower the expense.

“Medication prescribing is really unoptimized. By that I mean providers prescribe medication based on efficacy. They are not taking cost into account,” Morse-Schindler says. Medication is where employers see “the most unnecessary spend,” he adds.

Benefit advisers are “clearly looking for ways to help their clients manage claims and manage spend. Especially for the clients who are self-funded or who are thinking about going from fully insured to self-funded, advisers want to provide a tool that works. If there’s one thing in terms of client retention potential, as an adviser, managing spend and containing cost is probably top of the list,” Morse-Schindler says.

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