Wayne Pontin: Healthcare strategies need good data

The most valuable asset of any business is its people.

The technological world we live in is all about communicating quickly and accurately, but who instigates the communication? Who produces the products and goods? Who services the communication and computer technology? Who delivers the productivity and so controls the profitability? People.

So it becomes increasingly obvious that the health and wellbeing of the most valuable asset must be protected and cherished. Any business of note will therefore invest in a health strategy, but what data is critical for formulating a health and wellbeing strategy?

The key is productivity, and to maintain this at maximum profitable levels, the first set of data to monitor is sickness absence. A sickness absence management scheme that produces relevant and accurate management information is essential in developing a healthcare strategy.

Health and safety requirements insist that accidents are recorded and this data is invaluable in evaluating a healthcare strategy, as is data on liability claims. This data helps structure a musculoskeletal strategy. Employers with more than 50 staff should consider an employee absence programme that, while maintaining confidentiality, will produce data on absence due to stress. This can be recorded under sub-headings to separate work-related stress from personal or family/financial-related stress. Valuable data can be obtained from appraisal interviews and one-to-one meetings. Succession planning, or the lack of it, can also lead to stress which is fundamental to a robust healthcare strategy.

A successful healthcare strategy needs the lifeblood of data collection, it needs flexibility, which data can provide, and it requires empathy and understanding of the needs of the workforce. There can never be too much data; only too little.

Wayne Pontin is executive director at Jelf Employee Benefits and chairman of the Association of Medical Insurance Intermediaries