IBM Unit Develops Electronic Health Screening Initiative for Employees Based on Task Force Recommendations

Comparative Effectiveness
July 2010

A computer-aided screening initiative based on the AHRQ-sponsored U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF or Task Force) recommendations and delivered via an online annual Health Risk Assessment has been successfully implemented for employees at IBM Integrated Health Services. Known as the Preventive Care Rebate, the initiative is designed to improve compliance, awareness, and the completion of appropriate clinical preventive screenings based on age, gender, and family history of disease.

In addition to the Task Force's A and B recommendations, the Preventive Care Rebate Program requirement also incorporates the consumer materials from AHRQ's Effective Healthcare Program and AHRQ Director Dr. Carolyn Clancy's series of consumer advice columns, "Navigating the Health Care System."

During IBM's annual health plan enrollment, employees are given the opportunity to elect to participate in any of the company's Healthy Living Rebates—one of which is the Preventive Care Rebate. In 2008, 67,000 employees registered to participate in the Preventive Care Rebate Program. Of those employees, 58,000 completed the "Overdue Test Action" step—one of three requirements needed in order to earn a $150 incentive.

The "Overdue Test Action" step of the program is a continuation of completing a Health Risk Assessment. The employee is presented with a list of any overdue screenings, based on the Task Force recommendations that are appropriate for their age and sex. A total of 11 clinical preventive service recommendations are used. IBM's highly recommended preventive services include A and B (or "do") recommendations from the USPSTF, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, colorectal, mammography, and cervical screenings. Employees are asked to take action on any overdue preventive screenings, come back to the Web site, and validate completion of any overdue screenings.

Joyce Young, MD, MPH, IBM's Well-being Director, says, "The Task Force recommendations form the foundation of IBM's Enhanced Preventive Benefit design and are invaluable in helping our 500,000 health plan members receive evidence-based screenings. We use them for member education and awareness and are confident that we have given our plan members the best opportunities to obtain sufficient—but not excessive—preventive services that are important to the success of our overall health care strategy."

In addition to the Preventive Care Rebate Program, IBM has also implemented an Enhanced Preventive Benefits Program. Most IBM medical options cover routine preventive services at 100 percent, with no deductible, as long as the employee receives care within IBM's provider network. This means that the employee does not need to meet an annual deductible or pay any coinsurance or a copayment when these services are received from a network provider. Different preventive benefits apply for HMOs.

Investing in prevention and well-being makes sense for IBM's employees and its business because healthy employees tend to experience a better quality of life, both in the workplace and in their personal lives. In addition, employees who discover health problems early may recover faster, spend less on medical care, and have decreased absenteeism.

Links to the AHRQ resources used by IBM employees are as follows:

Navigating the Health Care System

Effective Healthcare Program

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

Impact Case Study Identifier: 
Multi-Center-10-03 (CP3, COE)
AHRQ Product(s): Effective Health Care Program, Navigating the Health Care System, U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF)
Topics(s): Prevention
Geographic Location: National
Implementer: IBM Integrated Health Services
Date: 07/01/2010
Page last reviewed October 2014