Enhancing the Health of Workers Through "Collabo-Health"
The Utilization of Data to Promote Employee Good Health
Aug. 01, 2017
A movement in which corporate health insurance societies collaborate with companies to enhance employee health has begun in Japan. The utilization of medical fee receipts (health insurance claim statements) and other such data is essential for such collaborative health promotion, which is known in Japan as "Collabo-health." Since 2007, NRI has been analyzing health checkup and medical fee receipt data to propose strategies for the improvement of health issues. NRI supports the building of a vibrant society with spirited workers in this way.
Extending Healthy Life Expectancy, an Item Raised in the Japan Revitalization Strategy
With an increasingly aging population, Japan's national health expenditure, as announced by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, has marked record highs for 13 consecutive years. In 2015, it amounted to 41.5 trillion yen, as compared to 20.6 trillion yen in 1990. That means health spending more than doubled in a quarter of a century. In regard to social security, the increasing burden of health-care costs is now becoming a major issue for Japan alongside public pensions.
The Japanese government raised "extending the nation's healthy life expectancy" as one of the important pillars of its Japan Revitalization Strategy. As a measure to realize this, a call was made for the implementation of a "Data Health Plan" by all health insurance societies. Simply said, the government asked insurers (health insurance societies, mutual aid associations, etc.) and companies to collaborate in enhancing the health of employees and their families. This was to be done by utilizing the information contained in the itemized bills sent to an insurer by medical institutions for the payment of fees for medical care provided to employees.
In the industrial circle as well, there is an increasing number of companies that consider the good health of its employees to be an important managerial theme. Having healthy employees raises productivity, infuses organizations with energy, and leads to the growth of a company. With the aging of the population, the working life of individuals is being extended through the postponement of retirement and other means. Promoting the good health of workers has become an important theme that needs to be addressed in Japan.
NRI's "Collabo-Health" Services, Launched in 2007
The Collabo-health movement, in which health insurance societies collaborate with companies to promote employee health, started around the time the Japan Revitalization Strategy was approved by the Cabinet in 2013. Under the Collabo-health initiative, a health insurance society analyzes the health-related data in its possession and utilizes it for the identification of health issues. The health insurance society and company then work together to resolve the identified health issues. It includes implementing measures to improve the working environment and reforming working styles.
In 2007, ahead of the Collabo-health movement, NRI launched a service that analyzes health checkup and medical fee receipt data, identifies health issues, and proposes and executes improvement plans. Health promotion solutions were already attracting attention at the time, as cries were being heard for the need to rationalize ever-increasing medical expenditures. The solutions being offered at the time included those for the modification of lifestyles and efforts for the maintenance of good health. However, when NRI researched the matter, it found that existing health promotion solutions not only had few users but also had a low rate of continued use. Because of this, insurers, such as health insurance societies, saw them as not being very effective for the rationalization of medical expenditures. NRI therefore carried out R&D to develop a new solution. At the center was an NRI team that carried out consulting in relation to the management of employee health from a corporate management point of view.
Management Issues Become Visible Through Health-related Data
The health data analysis service provided by NRI looks at data closely, including trends covering five or more years. This makes it possible to see distinctive health-issue-related trends, which vary from one company to another, or identify trends and issues that may be missed through the use of only health checkups.
For example, data analyses showed that there were industry sectors and job types thought to have a high incidence of psychological disorders, such as depression, insomnia and mood disorder. Looking at matters from a different perspective showed that there were also differences between companies—some had a higher incidence rate in managerial personnel, while others had a higher incidence rate among working-level employees. There were even differences within the same company.
For example, a division where the incidence of psychological disorders was high during periods when difficult projects were being carried out. Or, there were divisions where, while few in number, such disorders arose on a periodic basis.
Using the results of data analyses, NRI works to raise awareness on the promotion of good health. It gets a company's management team and human resources division involved in assessments of the level of physical and mental health at each of the company's offices. The assessments are carried out utilizing indexes that give scores and rankings to health levels.
For instance, there was a health insurance society to which NRI provided two services. In the first was to use a shared evaluation index to give scores to the health status of employees at all of the company's 20 or so business establishments. The scores were then shown to the management team of each business establishment. The scores enabled the visualization of issues and were used to develop countermeasures. What was more, discussions related to health issues were also carried out with the management teams, and goals were established for each business establishment in relation to improvement activities. Giving scores made each business establishment think of the issues as being their "own" problem, and they started to set goals voluntarily. It also led to better communication between the health insurance society and business establishments.
The other measure taken was to hold health-promotion events that employees could participate in with their spouses (or families). The primary targets of these events were segments that had a high incidence rate of lifestyle-related diseases for both husband and wife. There were two such events held. A total of 56 individuals, including 12 couples, participated. A transformation in health awareness was seen among those who took part in the events. Furthermore, events intended for families made it easier for employees to participate in healthcare projects.
NRI leverages its strengths—the capability to identify issues, Power of Realization, and Co-Creation Ability—to support the realization of Collabo-health. More specifically, it carries out data analysis, proposes solutions, and brings companies and health insurance societies together to achieve results.
Solutions that Are Not Overbearing—Solutions that People Enjoy Undertaking
Collabo-health is an initiative that presents the importance of employee health to companies in an easier-to-understand manner. Many management executives agree that employee health is important. However, they are unable to establish its priority because there are many other business challenges that are also present. Utilizing health-related data and clarifying the impact health has on medical expenditures and loss of manpower help foster a climate in which companies and health insurance societies engage in measures to promote employee health. With that said, if a company tries to manage employee health systematically, employees may feel it as being overbearing. What is more, the amount of stress one can tolerate or how far one can stretch oneself differs from person to person. That is why NRI goes beyond the simple management of workers' health and the rationalization of medical expenditures. By providing enjoyable solutions for all toward realization of a healthy company, NRI aims for a society in which people can work with dynamism.
NRI Public Management Review (September 2015 issue)
Reform of National Health Insurance Management for Committing to Results as Local Governments (in Japanese only)