The Truven Health Blog

The latest healthcare topics from a trusted, proven, and unbiased source.

Some of our highlights from HIMSS 2017

By Truven Staff/Monday, February 27, 2017

Last week, representatives from Truven Health Analytics, now part of the IBM Watson Health business, and more than 40,000 health IT professionals, clinicians and executives attended HIMSS 2017 in Orlando, FL to learn from health industry leaders, see the newest products and services and get an idea of what’s ahead in healthcare.

Here are some of our highlights from this year’s HIMSS conference:

  • Launch party for Portable Analytics and new cognitive offerings: Truven Health Analytics and IBM Watson Health celebrated the launch of several new offerings, including Portable Analytics. This is an enterprise analytics solution that enables health plans to embed robust analytic content from Truven Health into their own technology environments. A similar offering is available for providers.
  • Speaking session in IBM Presentation Theater: You’ve got the data, now get the answers: Truven Health and IBM experts Kevin Ruane and Rich Hennessy, respectively, showed a diverse audience of healthcare stakeholders how they can improve performance through data and insight with our portable analytics. Click here to schedule a demo and see for yourself.
  • Black Book award for population health solution: IBM Watson Health was recognized by Black Book™ for its best-in-industry population health solution. Click here to read an article about the Black Book™ best-of-breed study.

Contact us to learn more about our new solutions that were unveiled at HIMSS 2017.


Workplace programs, policies and environmental supports to prevent cardiovascular disease

By Truven Staff/Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Ninety-nine percent of the U.S. population has at least one of seven cardiovascular health risks: high blood pressure, high total cholesterol, high blood glucose, unhealthy body mass index (BMI), tobacco use, physical inactivity, or poor diet.[1] The combined contribution of these risk factors increases employer medical spending by 213 percent per person per year.[2]

“Organizations need to assess their heart health programs, policies and environmental supports to reduce health risk factors for cardiovascular disease, lower the prevalence of the illness, and reduce medical expenditures,” said Ron Z. Goetzel, Ph.D., vice president of consulting and applied research at Truven Health Analytics, an IBM Company.

The American Heart Association (AHA) offers the Workplace Health Achievement Index (WHAI) to help organizations perform these assessments. Last year we connected organizational WHAI measures to individual employee medical, drug and health risk data housed in the Truven Health MarketScan® multi-employer database, and together we analyzed the data.

Results from the study

Twenty large employers participated in this study to assess the association between organizational health and measures of cardiovascular health risks, disease prevalence and medical costs. Some results of the study included:

  • One fifth of employees have cardiovascular disease, with an average per member per year spending of $329 for the disease
  • The most common health risk for these workers was unhealthy weight (72% prevalence), followed by poor diet (71%) and high blood pressure (66%)
  • The least common health risk was tobacco use (5.5%), which was substantially lower than that for the U.S. adult population (16.8%)
  • A higher WHAI score was associated with lower prevalence of four modifiable health risk factors: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, tobacco use, and physical inactivity
  • WHAI scores were not correlated with high blood glucose and unhealthy weight, but were positively correlated with poor diet
  • A higher WHAI score was associated with lower cardiovascular disease prevalence but higher cardiovascular disease spending, a result meriting further study

Though there is no clear pattern as to which organizational health factors are associated with better outcomes, we encourage employers to participate in the next wave of multi-employer studies that aims to look at trends in organizational programs, policies and environment, and how these support a healthy lifestyle among workers[SE1] [GRZ2] .

What can employers do with these results?

  • Employers can act now! There is no need to wait for more research before implementing evidence-based health promotion programs proven to positively influence employee health and well-being.
  • When implementing a program, remember to always measure and evaluate.  This can be done by designing “dashboards” that track key program structure, process and outcome measures for the organization.
  • Finally, employers can experiment with different health promotion strategies at different business units/locations and track the effectiveness of alternative models.

Dr. Goetzel presented the study findings at a briefing event sponsored by Health Affairs on Tuesday, February 7, 2017 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.  For more information, click here.


[1] Ford ES, Greenlund KJ, Hong Y. Ideal cardiovascular health and mortality from all causes and diseases of the circulatory system among adults in the United States. Circulation. 2012;125:987-995.

[2] Goetzel RZ, Pei X, Tabrizi MJ, Henke RM, Kowlessar N, Nelson CF, et al. Ten modifiable health risk factors are linked to more than one-fifth of employer-employee health care spending. Health Aff (Millwood). 2012;31(11):2474-84




The EDGE Server Data Submission Requirement Is Alive and Well. How Is Your Process?

By Truven Staff/Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Although the future is always uncertain, there are ongoing, complex reporting requirements we know health plans must meet in 2017. EDGE server data submissions are as challenging as ever, and health plans must submit complete 2016 benefit year data by May 1, 2017. 

Accurate and complete data submissions are a must to ensure that you present the actual risk of your member population and maximize your reinsurance and risk transfer payments. Was your EDGE server software stack upgraded to the new CMS requirements by January 31, 2017 – and are you feeling prepared? We think a few key questions to ask are:

  • How well is our approach to EDGE working?
  • Did we have clean data that optimized our risk adjustment efforts?
  • Were we able to respond effectively to the ongoing changes in CMS requirements? Most recently, how has our CMS-required EDGE server re-imaging and software stack upgrade gone?
  • What improvements do we need to make to maximize our return on our EDGE efforts?

The difficulties in accurately capturing and presenting your members’ risk and effectively processing EDGE data become abundantly clear when health plans receive their annual risk adjustment transfer payment reports from CMS each summer, and many are unhappy. The fact is that many health plans, busy serving their members by supporting quality care at a reasonable cost, simply don’t have the requisite resources or experience in place to complete the arduous tasks needed to comply with EDGE server data submissions. EDGE server requirements are challenging—and continue to evolve.

If you think there’s opportunity for improvement, now’s the time to consider a new direction for your 2017 benefit year submissions. Should you do it on your own? Stick with a vendor you’re not thrilled with? Before you decide, consider all the things that a proper EDGE server process should entail. Your solution should give you:

  • On-time, accurate submissions
  • Ongoing risk optimization services
  • Data management setup and continuous data management services
  • Analytic reporting
  • A support staff to keep up with HHS changes and respond to EDGE server updates
  • Peace of mind and the ability to focus internal resources on your day-to-day responsibilities

What Can Truven Do? Our Data Speaks for Itself.

If complying with CMS’s EDGE server requirements is taxing your organization’s resources, it’s time to consider partnering with a qualified EDGE server administrator, so you can get back to the business of offering quality health care. Contact us to learn more.


Bryan Briegel, Healthcare Reform Solutions Specialist 
Anita Nair-Hartman, Senior Vice President, Payer Strategy and Business Operations