healthcare trend analytics
Employee Benefits

Taking a Note Out of the Texas Tech Defensive Playbook

Travis Dent
Travis Dent
Sr. Vice President, Employee Benefits

I went to school at Texas Tech. I’m going to let that hang there for a second and will ask you to hold your applause until the end. I know, while mostly famous for being the Harvard of West Texas, we have another reason for notoriety at the moment…we made the NCAA National Championship game this year!

For those of you not overly familiar with college basketball, the pinnacle achievement for all Division 1 college programs is a “berth” into the NCAA tournament consisting of 64 teams (68 if you want to be technical and count the play-in games) playing in a single elimination format until, alas, one is left. More commonly known as “March Madness,” this is often considered one of the purest contests in all of sports as it allows equal footing for both blue-chip programs as well as those just happy to be there. This David vs. Goliath pitting creates incredible excitement and sometimes, but not always, sees a “David” emerge victorious.

As the tournament progresses and you whittle from 64 to 32, each subsequent round comes with a catchy name — the “Sweet 16,” the “Elite 8,” and the “Final Four.” Every rung on the bracket brings a new challenge and creates a mash-up of teams that would have no reason to play one another during the course of their regular season. If nothing more, this fight for your survival arrangement helps with the hangover of winter and makes for must-watch TV.

Texas Tech, being a “perennial afterthought” (as Yahoo Sports put it), would fall into the category of just happy to be here. So, how you ask, did we make it to the zenith of college basketball? Defense. Yes — simple, old-fashioned defense. Our coach has spent his short time with our program training the team to focus on protecting the ball and breaking a 40-minute game into 10, 4-minute micro games. Every four minutes, we have goals that consist of limiting turnovers, blocking shots, and capturing offensive rebounds. Rather than putting 40 minutes of play out there, he makes all five players on the court focus on the four minutes they will play. Concentrate and set the pace for those four minutes and, above all, always protect the ball.

This strategy has taken the aforementioned “perennial afterthought” center-stage to basketball’s most coveted spot — shutting down some of the country’s most elite offenses along the way. And what might you ask does this have to do with the business of healthcare? Seemingly everything.

As we all work to control costs, manage population health, and navigate a tricky (if not blisteringly competitive race for talent), we must focus on the fundamentals. While I prefer offense to defense, having a strategy to defend your balance sheet, your healthcare trend, and your culture against constant threats is critical. Three-to-five-year strategies are wonderful, and we create them often. However, given the warp speed of today’s business environment and the albatross that healthcare spend can be to a company’s profitability, nimble and purposeful “micro-strategies” to protect your plan are critical.

What is happening in the funding and structure of large claimants? Are you focusing on measurable outcomes on disease specific threats? What’s your 12-month pharmacy strategy? How do your people feel today about the benefits you offer? What tools can you use to engage them throughout the year to keep them happy, healthy, and productive? These are all important questions and critical mini-bites at the apple that must be taken to defend your plan.

As a firm, we are bullish on the work we’re doing around our data analytics engine CLUE (Clinical Learning and Understanding Engine) and the lens it provides into these micro-segments. I encourage you to connect with your Holmes Murphy team to have dialogue about the longer strategy, while creating a scorecard on your micro-segments. Our hope is the big picture will come into focus with these mini-looks and help the team stay measured in the management of benefits.

As I end this blog, for those of you who tuned into the Texas Tech vs. Virginia match up, you know that Texas Tech lost in OT after a hard-fought battle on the court. It was an amazing (defensive) season, and I’m already looking forward to next year. Can I get a DEFENSE Raiders DEFENSE?

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