How Our Product Team Enables Springbuk Answers™

By Amy Brown, VP of Product

Feb. 2, 2021

Each day, Google processes 5.6 billion searches, over 40,000 search queries every second on average1. In 2020 it’s no surprise that coronavirus was the second most searched keyword. Some of the top questions individuals asked regarding the pandemic included:

  • Where is a COVID testing site near me?

  • How many COVID cases are there?

  • What types of tests for COVID are available?

This type of easy-to-use, intuitive search has helped quickly answer questions in seconds for over 20 years. As consumers, we’ve been conditioned to expect the same experience in all aspects of our lives. Yet when it comes to finding actionable opportunities to improve your employee population’s health, solutions have fallen short. Elizabeth Lindsey once aptly said, “We live in a society bloated with data but starved for wisdom.”

Data alone is not sufficient. Data synthesized into direction, culminating in a story that helps to solve real problems for real people is the evolution of health analytics, and Springbuk is leading our customers on this journey. “If a group’s rate of emergency room visits is high, what should they do? Is there anything they can do? Are any of those visits avoidable? Is it a specific sub-group of members?” Questions lead to more questions, and often benefits leaders have limited time to get the answers they need.


Providing Direction for Employers

Employers are uniquely situated and are often highly motivated to have a positive impact on the members they serve. Binders of reports and endless pages of dashboards are helpful but not sufficient to solve the real problems benefits leaders face. Springbuk’s product team conducts user interviews to better understand the true problems our customers face each day. When we challenged and encouraged our customers to dream big, we found that the real problem they aimed to solve was the need for instant and credible answers, to the right business question, with guidance to better understand applications and strategies.

With legacy data solutions: You are required to know all the right questions. You are then tasked with knowing how to properly structure your queries, and you are expected to find the answers. And ultimately, you receive a data point. No direction on how to control your rising costs. No actionability on implementing the best-in-class programs.

When we at Springbuk thought about this modern search technology that shapes every facet of our lives, we kept asking ourselves, why can’t this exist in health data analytics too?

What if an HR analyst wanted to collect suggestions for potential programs or risk mitigation strategies he/she may want to implement? That analyst would need to be able to quickly answer questions and present the information to key decision-makers. And in that conversation, someone may ask something not on the agenda, such as, “How many of our mental health members also have a chronic condition?” Or, he/she may ask, “What do our admissions look like for those that fall into this cohort?”


Ask Your Actual Questions – Get Actual Answers

This is one of the many reasons we built Springbuk Answers™, a natural language processing search engine to equip users with the right information, at the right time, to understand the story driving your data and ultimately save money and avoid future risk.

The questions our customers have are complex to answer if they’re asking that question on their own. For each event that happens, such as a colonoscopy, four different types of claims could come in for that one procedure. There could be a facility claim, a pathologist claim, an anesthesiologist claim, and a gastroenterologist claim all in that single event. Our partners are often interested in pulling this all together to better understand the full cost of the procedure. This might be particularly important if many of their employees will need colon cancer screening in the upcoming year, as it can help them to better predict future spend.

Historically, that’s not been an easy question to answer. But with Answers, we’ve made that incredibly easy. We’ve built our own proprietary logic to group all those claims into one encounter. Our team of experts have taken the time to make sure that each business question is aligned with the best claims grouping and query criteria to meet the needs of our customers.

This is only the beginning of what Answers can do. In 2020, we added additional functionality for users to filter and quickly find any answer to analyze focus groups (cohorts) they’ve built in the platform. When a user types in a question and that answer is on screen and visualized, it's a simple click of the mouse in the filter bar to select a cohort and visualize the results for that group.

Perhaps a user wants to monitor a focus population that's being closely tracked for engagement or only wants to view members who spent over $25,000 this year.


Users can look at any answer for that subgroup instead of just looking at the whole population. From there, we have curated related business questions that the user might also be interested in, right there on the same page. It's a simple click to see related information that starts to tell a story. And, that's where users begin to find patterns and actionable information within their data.



Insights and Answers: Not just data reporting, actionable opportunities

When we built our hallmark health intelligence solution, Springbuk Insights™, customers got a taste of a world where, within seconds of logging in, their data gave them direction on which to act. The missing part: supporting information and metrics on why they should act on that opportunity.

Enter: Springbuk Answers.

Now, when a customer needs to know how a change could impact employees, he/she simply types a question into the Answers search, and is quickly presented with everything one needs to know to demonstrate the business case.


Make the Best Decision Possible – For the Business and Your People

In 2019, Answers was just a concept on the roadmap. But once we realized how powerful Insights and Answers could be when working in tandem, we built, tested, and went to market with Answers in just six months.

However, once we went to market, iteration on this solution didn’t stop. The questions available in Answers have multiplied twofold since its initial release. In fact, if a customer is interested in submitting ideas for a new question for Answers, one can share an idea directly in the Answers search area or work directly with our customer success team to submit a suggestion in our product idea portal. This helps ensure we are rapidly delivering what our customers want and need most.

During Answers’ inception, I created a list of hundreds of questions that our team meticulously worked through. With each question, we’d ask ourselves, “Does this make sense to include?” This is where our data science and clinical experts played a vital role. As Answers was getting ready to go to market, the riptides of COVID-19 were flowing through our industry. We sat down with our experts to understand, “When are the new COVID-19 codes being released? Can we identify these events in our product? What are the methodologies we're going to apply? Do we need a claims-based query?” With their expertise in our toolbelt, we had the information to make these decisions confidently and quickly.


Making Deeper Connections for Better Insights

We can connect the questions in Springbuk Answers to the information customers find on Springbuk Insights cards through our clinical team’s power. Users can go into Insights, discover an opportunity, click through and identify why that opportunity is important, the strategies to address the need, and how that pattern is tracking over time.

From there, it's a streamlined process to click through to related Answers business questions linked from the Insight card that are relevant and help our users make a data-driven decision.

For example, if a user were to click into the coronary artery disease card, members with coronary artery disease gaps populate. When understanding the information and members identified by Insights, it may be that a portion of those that have coronary artery disease will end up needing an angioplasty procedure. You can click through to the associated Answers and determine who the top providers are for the procedure; if you want to consider implementing an intervention, you can look at the rate of utilization and understand if your surgeries are higher or lower compared to a normative benchmark.


Also, if a user is focusing on preference-sensitive procedures, Springbuk Insights provides cards that populate members who have had certain surgeries such as spinal fusions, orthopedic surgeries, and other costly procedures that clinical research suggests may not always be the best treatment pathway for the member. From there, Springbuk Answers will provide relevant data points such as the top providers for the procedure, and whether the group’s rate for this procedure is typical based on a normative comparison. We then layer on relevant financial information. When thinking about future surgeries, understanding the typical amount paid for that surgery in your population is a valuable piece of information when anticipating future spend and prioritizing scarce resources.


A World of Insight at Your Fingertips

Traditional health analytics has somewhat lagged behind modern health intelligence technology. All these things that we've become accustomed to in other areas of our lives with Amazon, Google, and Spotify haven’t been seen in the market until Answers and Insights.

These solutions welcome our partners into the modern age for health analytics. So much of health analytics has historically been people cutting and pasting reports, running Excel macros, exporting to PDF, and sending information through manual processes. Legacy vendors manage teams of people that spend long hours every month completing manual and tedious processes for clients, a labor-intensive and costly effort. With all the money and time spent, often clients still don't have the direction they need to make strategic decisions. With Health Intelligence, the user has the freedom of autonomy, with curated and relevant information to make informed data-driven decisions. We've done all the heavy-lifting for our customers. They don't have to worry about being a data expert. We've got that covered.

1https://www.internetlivestats.com/google-search-statistics/


MEET THE AUTHOR

Amy Brown, VP of Product

Amy Brown is currently the Vice President of Product, leading the Health Intelligence and Health Analytics programs at Springbuk. A veteran healthcare analytics and product development leader with 15+ years in public and employer health engagement and consulting, she was a founding member of Truven/IBM Watson Health Emerging Analytics practice and is a listed inventor for two patent-pending analytic methodologies.