Innovative Dashboard Project Allows San Francisco to Make Data-Driven Decisions About Employee Health Benefits
Responding to the challenge of honoring employee health care obligations in a climate of rising costs, the Health Service System of the City of San Francisco is instituting a groundbreaking initiative called the HSS Dashboard Project. This system of collecting truly comparable, standardized data will offer the City ongoing visibility into financial performance and utilization of employee health care services.
“We are moving beyond a black box approach to a model that will ensure the City can make the most of every dollar. The Dashboard will allow us to make more comparative, data-driven decisions,” stated Health Service System Director Bart Duncan.
During past rates and benefits negotiations with the City, each health care vendor would operate in many ways in a world based on its own data. When comparative data was unavailable to HSS, a health plan could, for instance, attempt to demand a 10% rate increase while providing mostly anecdotal evidence in support of the need for a price escalation. “We had no visibility into many of the details. There was no opportunity to work with the vendors on an equally informed basis and improve plan design or identify areas where we could hold down costs in relation to other segments of our population,” added Mr. Duncan. “The Dashboard will make the City and HSS employee members, retired and active, become more savvy consumers of health care services. It allows us to engage our employee members and our vendors in collaborating on real solutions.”
A unique member-focused governance structure encourages HSS members to participate in the innovation process driven by the Dashboard Project. “Our active and retiree members are willing to learn about and make changes that can benefit everyone going forward,” said Mr. Duncan. “For example, if the Health Service System can save money by having more of our members obtain routine prescriptions through mail order we have seen in the past they are ready to do what is needed.”
At the Health Service Board meeting on June 12, 2008, the first data from the Dashboard Project was presented in a public forum. Newly elected Board President Scott R. Heldfond commented, "The incredible amount of time and hard work on all stakeholders’ parts has given San Francisco a cutting edge set of tools to use in managing our employee health care costs. We will no longer simply be asking our providers for information during the Rates and Benefits process. Instead, we will have the Dashboard data and therefore can be proactive and negotiate more effectively. To the best of my knowledge we are the first public sector employer in California to create this game changing methodology. It was wonderful to see our staff, Board, advisors and providers come together over the last year and make it happen. Our members will be the beneficiaries of the Dashboard Project and the City's benefit expenses should also be positively affected."
A progress update, including the next round of data from this first phase of the Dashboard Project will be presented at the HSS Board Meeting on August 16, 2008, in Room 416 of San Francisco City Hall, at 1:00 pm.
The Health Service System of the City & County of San Francisco provides health care benefits to over 107,000 active and retired members on behalf of four major employers – the City of San Francisco, the San Francisco Unified School District, the San Francisco Superior Courts and City College. For more information visit myhss.org.