Why employers are bundling employee benefits, flu season takes a turn for the worse, and more.

1 BioIQ makes headlines in Managed Care magazine

Managed Care magazine featured an article written by Carrie Cowdin, BioIQ’s senior vice president of Client Analytics, in its January/February issue. The article titled “Taking Members from Disconnected to Engaged” focused on ways health plans are using data and analytics to close care gaps and engage members. Cowdin mentions three key areas that can help plans achieve their goals:

  1. Identify at-risk members. Use analytics to stratify their members based on a wide range of criteria.
  2. Tailor communications and care settings. Study data to learn the preferred communication methods of members and offer alternate and convenient care settings.
  3. Increase member motivation. Customize experiences to get members on board with their care.

Cowdin ended her article by stating: “Members are looking for a customized health care experience. With analytics, health plans can deliver it.”

2. Health searches spike prior to ED visits

Health-related searches online escalate the week prior to an emergency department (ED) visit, according to a BMJ Open study. The report shows Google plays a key role in tracking patient health habits and predictive analytics.

“By knowing what patients search for prior to a hospitalization, we can gain a better understanding of how to respond to what matters most to patients,” said researchers.

Search histories may also help health organizations bridge gaps between patient understanding and education.

3. Pinterest blocks vaccine-related searches

Don’t look up the words “vaccines” or “vaccinations” on Pinterest. The social media site has restricted pins for these terms due to misinformation. Most pins about the topic warn people against them with false data.

“We want Pinterest to be an inspiring place for people, and there’s nothing inspiring about misinformation,” shared a Pinterest spokesperson with CNBC. Pinterest has eliminated search results whether pins and boards are for or against vaccinations.

4. Flu season goes from bad to worse

A more severe flu strain, influenza A H3N2, is spreading across the U.S. Flu season started with the predominant influenza A H1N1 strain.

“It looks like we are moving from an H1 wave to an H3 wave,” said Lynnette Brammer, lead member of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) domestic influenza surveillance team. “There’s still a lot of flu to come.”

But there’s good news. Brammer said this year’s vaccine is more effective than last year’s and encourages consumers to get vaccinated. “As long as flu is circulating and you haven’t been vaccinated, we recommend that you go ahead and get vaccinated,” she said.

5. More employers bundle benefits, finds Anthem study

Imagine medical, pharmacy, dental, vision and disability benefits packaged into one big bundle. That’s what over 71 percent of surveyed employers are considering, according to an Anthem study. The study found more employers are combining their benefits thanks to better health outcomes, lower costs and more satisfied employees.

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