The personal exercise craze and better diets have raised overall wellness, but health care costs have never been higher. Mindi Fynke, president and CEO of EHIM Inc., a pharmacy benefit manager, says overnight changes to healthcare were never in the cards.
President and CEO
EHIM Inc., Southfield
Why she is a Champion of the New Economy:
The personal exercise craze and better diets have raised overall wellness, but health care costs have never been higher. Mindi Fynke, president and CEO of EHIM Inc., a pharmacy benefit manager, says overnight changes to health care were never in the cards. “Because of the heavy upfront costs, it will take years to reap the benefits of wellness and technology upgrades, but the important thing is we are finally moving down that path.”
Why has health care gone from an afterthought 25 years ago to an issue that’s at the forefront of bottom-line expenses?
The top reason is increased patient costs. Twenty-five years ago — and really, up until not that long ago — employer-provided health care was almost taken for granted by employees who used it. That old model was unsustainable. While people are healthier overall, progress comes with a cost. Now the onus is more on the employee. As more wellness initiatives are introduced, the costs go up — but there are long-term savings. There are a lot more tests administered, which has greatly increased the diagnosis of pending or looming health care problems. Early detection is so much better today, but there is a balance as it relates to investment in new equipment and procedures.
Managers quickly see the benefit of reducing health care costs by promoting wellness initiatives, but how do you help convince employees to see the light?
Health care is now being presented as a financial incentive. Depending on the health care plan, people who lead healthier lifestyles won’t pay as much for their insurance. The industry has created a “consumer” concept for employer-provided health care recipients. Strategies like increased deductibles, coinsurance, or contributions from paychecks have been utilized, and patients are now asking how much things cost, to ensure they maximize their dollars. These are questions no one asked until recently, and it’s a conversation that everyone has to be a part of.
How has it changed your business?
We developed a software program that tracks a client’s prescription plan, which is the heart of our business. The program allows us to work with medical carriers to help reduce overall medical costs for our clients, who make up businesses large and small. It’s incredibly secure, and we can measure how compliant a person is in taking one or more medications. If a person is not compliant, a doctor or medical professional can step in and make sure they take the medication. With that type of intervention we can greatly limit a person getting sick, visiting urgent care, or being admitted to a hospital.
What effect will the growing use of mobile technology in health care — call it Dr. Smartphone — have on your business?
We’re already seeing great applications that help people tap into their health care plans and better understand what’s provided. Mobile apps allow patients to immediately access their health care records, engage in their own spending, and, ultimately, track their wellness patterns. The more tools we provide people, the more they are able to continue being part of the decision-making process.
How will the rollout of electronic medical records affect your business?
We’re very supportive of electronic medical records because everyone will be on the same page, and there will be less redundancy. The challenge is that there are a lot of different electronic record systems being used, and making sure they all are compatible is important. We will be connected to those medical records (pre-approved by respective employers). It’s a much faster way to help a provider see the depths of the issues facing a patient based on the medications they are on.