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Worried About Costs of Complex Conditions, Employers Flock to Centers of Excellence

By Steven Porter  
   August 21, 2019

More than three-quarters of large and 'jumbo' employers report using a Centers of Excellence strategy, according to an Optum survey.

The percentage of large employers using a Centers of Excellence (COE) strategy to contain healthcare costs and improve outcomes for their employees has risen dramatically in recent years.

While just 45% of employers reported using a COE strategy in 2016, that figure grew to 64% in 2017 and 78% in 2018, according to Optum's 10th annual Wellness in the Workplace survey results released Wednesday.

The uptick comes as an overwhelming majority of employers, 87%, say they are concerned about the costs associated with managing complex and chronic medical conditions, according to the report, which surveyed 435 employers with at least 3,000 employees.

The survey aligns with the trends other industry watchers have identified. A report released earlier this year by Willis Towers Watson also found a significant increase in the percentage of employers looking into COEs within a health plan.

The idea is for companies to encourage their workers to seek care at high-quality providers, as the nation's largest private employer, Walmart, has demonstrated.

In other words, as Bruce Japsen wrote for HealthLeaders earlier this year, employers are "increasingly becoming savvier purchasers of healthcare services and demanding quality choices of hospitals, doctors, and health systems to make sure care is done right the first time."

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Related: Walmart Charts New Course By Steering Workers to High-Quality Imaging Centers

Steven Porter is an associate content manager and Strategy editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

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