Name of Organization/Company: State of New Jersey
Category: Human Resources Professional of the Year
As Assistant Director of Health Benefit Operations and Policy and Planning with the State of New Jersey, Christin Deacon curates benefits covering all state employees, including higher education, state police and emergency responders, the judiciary, 70% of the state’s local government employees and 40% of school employees. Christin leads benefits curation and contracting for more than 820,000 lives. With a background in law, including a stint as Deputy Attorney General with the New Jersey Office of Attorney General and the Governor’s Office, Christin brings a fresh perspective on how to curate and design innovative benefits strategies with a focus on plan integrity and oversight. With 5 years of benefits experience under her belt, Christin keeps up to date on all angles of healthcare benefits, including understanding the healthcare provider’s perspective. She’ll use that intelligence to strategize how her state’s healthcare benefits will be impacted and educate members on how to make smarter healthcare consumption decisions. Christin gauges the market, aligns financial incentives, while anticipating the needs of her members - talents that inform her benefits strategy philosophy. Her strategy adheres to the principles of building and sustaining trust from her membership which feeds engagement, a key ingredient to her success.
Faced with supporting a diverse workforce with diverse health care needs, Christin strives to create cutting-edge benefits programs while managing top medical cost drivers for the State of New Jersey. As a public agency, her mission is to get the most value out of public taxpayer dollars, while providing the best healthcare for her employees. She achieves this goal in two main ways:
Improve outcomes & reduce spend: Prior to the pandemic, Christin kept her eye on innovative benefits that could help her reduce costs while also improving member health outcomes. As part of this strategy, Christin introduced digital healthcare benefits long before the pandemic from diabetes to polypharmacy solutions. Her foresight to bridge the gap between virtual and whole person care even before the pandemic positioned the State of New Jersey to meet the surge in demand for virtual care spurred by the pandemic. To reduce high musculoskeletal medical spend and provide better member outcomes, she also rolled out Hinge Health, a digital MSK solution during the pandemic.
Create smart healthcare consumers. Knowing that healthcare can actually be dangerous if used inappropriately (a leading cause of spinal conditions is failed surgery), Christin’s mission is to equip her employees to become “smart healthcare consumers.”
Oversight and Plan Integrity. Benefits strategy is key, but managing the financial side of the house can be just as important. Always working to align financial incentives is key to success in managing a plan of this size and scope.
Navigating health care for high-value, optimal results is difficult for most people. Christin has been called a “disruptor” in the space thanks to her work to connect the ecosystem of healthcare products for her members through innovative benefits that both provide better member outcomes and reduce costs. Christin works to help her members pursue healthcare, not just sick care. She makes data-driven decisions based on her members’ needs and the smartest, most efficient ways to meet them. As a thought leader in the health benefits space, Christin spends much of her time evangelizing high-value health care management, including innovative ways to offer benefits that help people manage chronic illness. For example, in adopting Hinge Health’s digital MSK solution to manage chronic MSK pain, Christin was able to reduce MSK medical spend while improving member outcomes. Examples of improved musculoskeletal health outcomes and medical spend that State of New Jersey and its members experienced in 2020, thanks to Christin’s strategies, include:
53% reduction in pain
65% reduction in surgery likelihood
3.8 times higher return on investment (ROI) for State of New Jersey in the form of saved medical spend and better member outcomes
77% improvement in member mental health
Christin joined a panel, “Employee Benefits Cost State Less Thanks to Team of Disruptors to share best practices on taking charge of cost variables within the control of a benefits leader, how to “reverse auction” to identify the best value and increasing benefits engagement among employees.
Christin was featured as a thought leader in Hospital & Healthcare Management’s article on how “Improving Diagnostic Devices Expand Patient Monitoring Capabilities”
“As the prevalence and cost of chronic conditions continues to rise, we are excited to be able to offer these new tools and services to make it easier for our members to manage their health,” said Christin Deacon, Assistant Director for the State of New Jersey, Division of Pensions and Benefits. “Working within the partnership between Livongo and Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, we are now able to bring the industry leading Livongo benefit to the thousands of New Jersey State and School Health Plan Members living with diabetes.”
Christin was a guest on What’s The Future Health, a high-profile digital health news series where she discussed how she implemented a digital health solution for diabetes care management
Christin was mentioned in Relentless Healthcare podcast for pushing high-value health care practices.