Randomized trials demonstrate that depression care management can improve clinical and work outcomes sufficiently for selected employers to realize a return on investment. Employers can now purchase depression products that provide depression care management, defined as employee screening, education, monitoring, and clinician feedback for all depressed employees. We developed an intervention to encourage employers to purchase a depression product that offers the type, intensity, and duration of care management shown to improve clinical and work outcomes.
In a randomized controlled trial conducted with 360 employers of 30 regional business coalitions, the research team proposes to compare the impact of a value-based marketing intervention to usual-care marketing on employer purchase of depression products. The study will also identify mediators and organizational-level moderators of intervention impact. Employers randomized to the value-based condition receive a presentation encouraging them to purchase depression products scientifically shown to benefit the employee and the employer. Employers randomized to the usual-care condition receive a presentation encouraging them to monitor and improve quality indicators for outpatient depression treatment. Because previous research demonstrates that the usual-care intervention will have little to no impact on employer purchasing, depression product purchasing rates in the usual-care condition capture vendor efforts to market depression products to employers in both conditions while the value-based intervention is being conducted. Employers in both conditions are also provided free technical assistance to undertake the actions each presentation encourages. The research team will use intent-to-treat models of all available data to evaluate intervention impact on the purchase of depression products using a cumulative incidence analysis of 12- and 24-month data.
By addressing the 'value to whom?' question, the study advances knowledge about one of the most pivotal problems in the translation of evidence-based care to 'real world' settings: whether purchasers can be influenced to buy healthcare products on the basis of value and not exclusively on the basis of cost. If value-based marketing increases depression product purchase rates over usual care, this study will provide encouragement to market new healthcare products on the basis of the product's value to the purchaser as well as the recipient of care.
Clinical Trials Registration Number: NCT01013220