WTW invests in doing research with thought leaders in order to develop cost saving health insurance benefits that are cost effective to the employer and provide meaningful health improvements to employees, with the goal of better health outcomes nationally and worldwide. This innovative model and informed approach to healthcare is exemplified by the industry-leading CCMUs, an example of a disease management program that drives a healthier workforce. Willis Towers Watson’s Health and Benefits Practice works to find solutions to Good Health and Well-being and Partnership for the Goals.
Case Western Reserve University - Weatherhead School of Management
While Willis Towers Watson (WTW) is a large, multinational company with many divisions, it is particularly innovative when it comes to healthcare. WTW has the resources to execute massive research studies with industry leaders at the helm. An example is the 23rd annual Willis Towers Watson “Best Practices in Health Care Employer Survey.” 687 U.S. employers completed the survey between June and July 2018 and about their health decisions and strategies. WTW takes particular interest in how employees deliver their health insurance, not just because they are one of the world’s largest brokers, but also because they know that health insurance drives health. In fact, one of the findings of the survey has become central to the ongoing research and innovation at WTW: “How top employers are controlling health care costs, focusing on wellbeing.”
Ongoing research in health and wellbeing is not hard to find at WTW. Economist and WTW Senior Consultant Jeff Levin- Scherz presented at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland on how behavioral economics can drive wellbeing and fix a broken global health system. While governmental bodies and non-profits seek to study related areas, WTW’s position as an advisory firm links this research to real life practical applications, relevant to their clients. WTW can then take the findings and partner with countless other companies across industry to implement world changing innovations. WTW has even partnered with His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles in the forum, “Measure What Matters: a Framework for Action” to address the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As the press release for the forum describes, it “explored the vision for 2030, and encouraged discussion among delegates on how the SDGs are being achieved, with particular focus on ways to measure progress.” Having the might of WTW behind the Goals connects them with literally hundreds of companies, capitalizing on the multinational network.
Even on a more local scale, WTW and its Health and Benefits practice keeps up with innovation. WTW consultants and project leaders are tasked with innovating with purpose. Rebecca Smith, Lead Project Manager, Custom Care Management Units at WTW said, “I co-project managed an annual Health Innovation day where we researched and vetted a number of health technology vendors (there are thousands of them – a lot of them come out of Silicon Valley), that are doing really cool things in effort to help our broken healthcare system.” That’s how WTW’s Custom Care Management Unit (CCMU) was created. The CCMU is a disease management program that is offered as part of a health benefit plan to engage employees in improving their own health. The CCMU provides the help and assistance needed to empower these employees with chronic conditions to make real changes. The choice to implement this WTW offered innovation by an employer has critical impacts on the employee’s life. As reported, “employers using CCMU have reduced hospital admissions by up to 30% per 1,000 lives and cut readmissions by up to 50%... Mid-market employers now have access to a best-in-class comprehensive disease management program that has been traditionally been reserved for large employers.”
WTW and its team are motivated and inspired to have an impact on the world. Rebecca Smith, Lead Project Manager, Custom Care Management Units talked about how she is inspired by the work she does, “The work I do with our clients impacts employees at the bottom line - in Health and Benefits. We are partnering with large organizations on their health and welfare programs offered to employees. About 50% of Americans (according to Kaiser Family Foundation) receive health insurance from their employer – it’s the #1 way that people receive health insurance, so you can imagine that there is a large market for this type of work, and the ability to really impact the employees of our clients, in addition to the market as a whole.
“The employer-sponsored health insurance market has a bit more flexibility in some ways around administering benefits so it’s really exciting to be able to work with companies on their healthcare strategy. While cost is obviously a big consideration to take into account in benefits design, most employers want to offer the best benefits to their employees and take care of their employees – motivated by altruism, attraction and retention, and supporting healthy and happy employees to impact overall workforce productivity. I personally really like working in our Health Management specialty practice because we have a team of physicians, nurses, registered dietitians, social workers, among public health professionals and even some health economists. It’s really motivating to be working with people who are so passionate about what they do and the resources and research we have available.” Innovation is a driver in WTW, but clearly they attract individuals who are driven to do the same. This strong corporate culture contributes to the practice of innovation and results in programs like the CCMUs.
The overall impact of the CCMUs is well tracked with evidence since its implementation. As reported, “employers using CCMU have reduced hospital admissions by up to 30% per 1,000 lives and cut readmissions by up to 50%... Mid-market employers now have access to a best-in-class comprehensive disease management program that has been traditionally been reserved for large employers.”
As Rebecca mentioned earlier, employer-provided health insurance is the number one source of insurance for Americans. The long-term effect of reducing hospital admissions in this population by 1/3 will be tremendous on our health system. Industry leaders like WTW have the scale to implement these innovations on a wide scale when they are effective.
Every effort WTW makes to improve health outcomes for the employees of their clients results in lower costs to the clients and ultimately, more business. Innovations like the CCMUs and the partnerships created through WTW’s extensive network benefit the bottom line tremendously. In fact, WTW reports in their annual Health Survey, “Looking to mitigate future cost increase and connect benefit programs to workforce culture, 82% of employers are investing in wellbeing initiatives, or plan to over the next three years.” That commitment to investment is a need served by WTW and their Health and Benefits Practice. As they continue to provide top level research by Thought Leaders and deliver outcomes that result in a healthier and less costly workforce, businesses will continue to partner with WTW and employ their services.
WTW has clients all over the world. Among the services their clients use, Health and Benefits remains important, especially as the global health system needs more and more urgent improvement. As an industry leader, WTW guides the standard for doing good to do well. The significant effect WTW and its disease management programs, like the CCMUs has on population health can be tracked: fewer emergency room visits and the mitigation of critical conditions in the working US population.
Expanding their research and leadership internationally, WTW is set to influence the global healthcare market as well. A business decision like this impacts more than just the bottom line for WTW, it also hits the bottom line for their clients. Because WTW has attached positive health outcomes with lower costs to businesses, they are impacting healthcare positively every day, and have for over 100 years. The real power of WTW’s influence comes in when they are able to include their network on these initiatives, with the intention of addressing the SDGs by 2030. An effective firm like Willis Towers Watson has the ability to impact the world with good health and well-being and partnership on the SDGs, and they might be the best one to do it.
Rebecca Smith, Lead Project Manager, Custom Care Management Units
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Business Website: https://www.willistowerswatson.com/en
Year Founded: 1828
Number of Employees: 10000+
Willis Towers Watson is a world leader in risk management, insurance brokerage and consultancy. With locations and services in 140 countries, it is the third largest insurance broker in the world and has particular strength and expertise in the healthcare sector.