We’re all defined by numbers. Social Security number, age, height, weight, bank account, credit score. Each of them tells something about you now or in the past, but none of them can predict your future.
There’s a new kind of number that is designed to predict something – your future health. It’s HCMS Group’s Human Capital Risk Index® (HUI, patent pending). The HUI (pronounced “Huey”) score takes into account more than 300 variables, including how many and what kinds of prescription drugs you take, what medical diagnoses you have, your healthcare history, how much time you’ve lost from work, and other important factors like your job compensation.
There are many other health risk calculations available — for assessing your chances of having kidney failure, heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Health insurance companies and health benefits consultants are creating broader metrics, attempting to get ahead of medical costs. Most of these are based on healthcare claims data and specific disease factors.
However, the predictive powers of most disease risk calculators are limited, according to company benefit managers who’ve tried them. “It seemed like we were always looking in the rear-view mirror,” says one.
What sets the HUI risk index apart is that its design gives the number considerable predictive power, based on more than a decade of research using the HCMS Group’s research reference database of almost 4 million people covered by more than 1,600 employers. As a person’s HUI score rises above an average of 1.0 for the general population and approaches 2.0 or higher, the chances of a complex health situation and high medical costs increase dramatically, research shows.
HCMS researchers compared the HUI score with a common disease risk metric and measured each index’s findings against actual healthcare costs for the 12 months through July 2012. The HUI’s predictive power for health benefit costs for the entire population was almost twice that of the disease index. It was also superior in forecasting disability compensation costs for the 5% of patients who account for more than 50% of medical spending. And it was almost twice as accurate in assessing a person’s likelihood of being in the 5% high-cost group. (See graphic below.)
The difference lies in the HUI’s unique formulas. It gives full weight immediately to medical diagnoses rather than waiting for medical claims to materialize. Expenses for some diseases such as cancer accumulate over time and may show up months or years later. The HUI score also relies on a big-data reference database that includes much more than just healthcare claims, providing a more complete picture for the whole person.
The HUI score is as dynamic as a credit score. Just as people are able to repair their finances and improve their ability to borrow, new research is showing that patients who own their health by helping themselves through adopting healthier behaviors become better consumers of medical care and improve their HUI scores – and their health.
*Based on an R2 statistical measure of significance used to assess predictive power measuring the relationship between risk score and total health benefit costs.
** Based on a pseudo R2 as measured from the logistic relationship between risk score and the likelihood of being high cost.
— By Robert L. Simison, HCMS Communications
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