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Employers Health (former Employers Health Coalition of Ohio)


Refining data management tools to improve health and curb costs.

Since 1995, Christopher Goff has led the Employers Health Coalition of Ohio (EHCO). He has overseen three generations of data warehousing since then, building the size and sophistication of this valuable tool for his coalition members.

The Driving Force. Christopher Goff is an ambitious man. When he became president of the EHCO in the mid-1990s, he recognized the value of value-based purchasing and the importance of data warehousing as a tool to support employer decision-making. Simultaneously he and his colleagues embarked on a dual track to propel both programs forward for the Coalition’s employer members.

Initial Focus. In the late 1990s, five employers in the Coalition created a data warehouse. The original collection included medical, pharmacy and eligibility data. The Coalition did not have financial responsibility for the project. It was done on a “pass through” basis with a third party vendor. The vendor aggregated the lives into a data warehouse and gave no additional support, which limited the use of the data to better inform decision-making and project costs into the future.[1]

Biggest Challenges. “The employers did not have the internal resources to use the data warehouse in an effective manner,” Goff recalls.[2] Furthermore, many of the insurance plans and health vendors made the process more cumbersome. “Bureaucracy and push back from many of the plans caused unnecessary delay and frustration,” Goff explains, “so it’s important to stay on top of them to ensure they are supplying the needed data in a timely manner.”[3]

Expansion of Data Warehousing. In 2007, 28 employers took part in creating a second generation data warehouse. This time the Coalition funded the project and was able to take the lessons learned earlier to ensure better vendor coordination and more comprehensive data collection. The Coalition is now in its third generation of data warehousing involving 33 employers.

Goff hasn’t stopped there. In June 2010, Employers Health Coalition of Ohio merged with Employer Health Care Alliance. The two organizations combined membership totals 200 employers covering 2 million people, blending self-insured employers with fully insured businesses with 500 or fewer employees. The newly-named Employers Health aims to grow its data warehousing capabilities. Under a three-year, $3.5 million contract with Ingenix, a Minneapolis-based health information company, the warehouse will combine insurance and pharmacy claims data from 35 members coverings 300,000 patients.[4]

Two full-time employees manage the project. The sophistication of the data elements has increased dramatically as well. This generation will eventually include workers compensation claims data, productivity data, and de-identified data gleaned from health risk assessments (HRA). Data is received on a quarterly basis. The data warehouse is also used for employers to understand the disease burden in their population. They are able to identify the cost-drivers and prepare targeted and individualized strategies to counteract or minimize the cost burden for their organization and for employees.[5]

Advice for Coalitions and Employers. Goff believes there is a lot of value in coalition-driven data warehousing as it maximizes its returns for the individual employers. Nevertheless, he advises coalitions and employers, “you need to understand your data as well as if not better than the benefits vendors.”[6]

[1] Christopher V. Goff, Phone interview, June 16, 2010.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ghose C, “Health-care Co-op Expands Reach with Addition of Cincinnati Group,” Business First of Columbus, June 25, 2010, available at

[5] Christopher V. Goff, Phone interview, June 16, 2010.

[6] Ibid.

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