Background Health care costs have been rising at exponential rates in the United States for decades along with an epidemic of lifestyle diseases. The prevalence of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and chronic pulmonary conditions are on the rise due to lack of exercise, poor nutrition, and tobacco use. Additionally, these conditions, which were thought to be a problem with older age groups, are now shifting down to Americans of working age. As a result, employers, as a primary intermediary for supplying health coverage, have felt the effects of these developments two fold; 1) significant increases in health care premiums and 2) illness related loss of productivity. In order to counteract these growing concerns, many corporations and public organizations have turned to workplace wellness programs as a strategic and proactive way to address these preventable illnesses in order to mitigate the rising cost of healthcare and improve productivity. Growing concerns among employers Each year in the United States, chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, arthritis, and diabetes cause 7 in 10 deaths and account for approximately 75% of the $2 trillion spent on medical care. Obesity alone is a significant health care cost driver. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being index data for 2011 show full-time workers in the U.S. who are overweight or obese and have other chronic health problems miss about 450 million more days of work each year than healthy workers, resulting in an estimated cost of more than $153 billion in lost productivity annually. The combination of loss of productivity and increased health care costs for employers place their businesses at a competitive disadvantage both domestically and globally. The rising gap between the growth in health care spending and overall economic growth means that a larger share of resources is being devoted to health relative to other expenses, such as wages and other employee benefits, capital expenditures, and business operations.Workplace Wellness Programs A workplace wellness program is any program implemented by an employer to promote health and wellness amongst the members of its staff, usually by educating employees about health-related issues, promoting the maintenance of healthy lifestyles, and encouraging employees to make healthier choices. A broad range of benefits could be offered under the label “workplace wellness, ” from multi-component programs to single interventions, and benefits can be offered by employers directly, through a vendor, or group health plans. Although wellness programs can take many forms, the main objectives of these programs are to prevent the onset of chronic diseases or to diagnose and treat diseases at an early stage before complications occur and usually contain a mix of clinical screening activities and interventions.The Affordable Care Act and Wellness Programs The recent epidemic of lifestyle diseases in the United States has highlighted the national need for improved health promotion. It has been found that Americans currently receive roughly half of the preventative health services that are recommended. The Affordable Care Act passed in 2010 specifically responds to this need with a strong emphasis on disease prevention. Many of the 10 major titles in the law, especially Title IV, Prevention of Chronic Diseases and Improving Public Health, advance a prevention theme through a wide array of new initiatives and funding. As a result, the Act stands to reinvigorate public health on behalf of individuals, worksites, communities, and the nation at large and is expected to usher in a revitalized era for prevention at every level of society. The Role of Employers Each year in the United States, chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes cause 7 in 10 deaths and account for approximately 75% of the $2 trillion spent on medical care. Obesity alone is a significant health care cost driver. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being index data for 2011 show full-time workers in the U.S. who are overweight or obese and have other chronic health problems miss about 450 million more days of work each year than healthy workers, resulting in an estimated cost of more than $153 billion in lost productivity annually. In order to control the cost of health care, businesses must take a more proactive approach to maintain and improve the health of their employees and to reduce their employees’ risk of developing costly chronic diseases. Additionally, the United States government understands the pivotal role that corporations and organizations play in improving the health as a country through its access to employees at an age when interventions can still change their long-term health trajectory. As a result, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act included several provisions to encourage wellness programs at the plan, employer, and individual levels that are intended to contain health care cost growth and expand health promotion and prevention strategies. For example, beginning in 2014, $200 million will be made available for wellness grants for small businesses whose work force meet certain criteria. In addition, the health reform law raises the permissible limit on rewards offered by any size employer through a group health plan for participating in a wellness program that requires meeting health-related standards. As a result of these recent developments, workplace wellness programs have emerged as a common employer-sponsored benefit that is now available at approximately half of U.S. employers with 50 or more employees, a group that employs three-quarters of the U.S. workforce. Data from the RAND Employer Survey suggests that employers view the impact of their wellness programs overwhelmingly as positive with more than 60 percent stating that their program reduced health care cost, and around 80 percent reporting that it decreased absenteeism and increased productivity, making it a viable business strategy.
Workplace wellness programs have emerged as a common employer-sponsored benefit that is now available at approximately half of U.S. employers with 50 or more employees, a group that employs three-quarters of the U.S. workforce. Data from the RAND Employer Survey suggests that employers view the impact of their wellness programs overwhelmingly as positive with more than 60 percent stating that their program reduced health care cost, and around 80 percent reporting that it decreased absenteeism and increased productivity, making it a viable business strategy.
- From a review of 73 published studies of worksite health promotion programs:
- Average $3.50-to-$1 savings-to-cost ratio in reduced absenteeism and health care costs
- From a meta-review of 56 published studies of worksite health promotion programs:
- Average 27 percent reduction in sick leave absenteeismAverage 26 percent reduction in health costs
- Average 32 percent reduction in workers compensation and disability management claims costs
- Average $5.81-to$1 savings-to-cost ratio
PHASE I – CLINICAL SERVICES
- Executive Physical Program
The first step in the wellness program is AccuHealth Group’s Executive Physical Program (create link to definition). Participation in this comprehensive clinical service will help determine if any patients are presenting any immediate health risks and will provide a health “baseline” for the patient in order to ensure they maintain a positive health trajectory going forward. All results will be uploaded to a HIPAA compliant electronic wellness portal that can be accessed by the patient from any device that can access the web. The Executive Physical Program includes the following services:
- Biometric Screening (includes Body Mass Index and full blood panel)
- Health Physical
- Ultrasound Testing
**If any urgent health risks are detected the exams will be fast tracked and the patient will receive a call from a Physician to go over the results and discuss the necessary follow up treatment.
- Health Risk Assessment (HRA) and Health Metric Analytics
Upon the completion of the Executive Physical Program, the patient’s results will be uploaded to a secure online wellness portal within 5 business days from the date of the exam. At that time, the patient will receive a welcome email with a link to register for the portal. The patient will be prompted to complete a health risk assessment (HRA) which is a comprehensive health intake/questionnaire that helps to determine high risk patients due to lifestyle choices and family history. The combined results from the HRA and Executive Physical will provide sophisticated health population analytics that are designed to help our clients make smarter and well-informed wellness investments and customized wellness plans. PHASE II – ASSESSMENT AND PLANNING Once the employees complete the clinical phase of the wellness program, AccuHealth and its medical team will immediately begin to assess the results of the HRA and the testing results from the physical to determine the patients with manifest chronic conditions and those with risk factors for chronic disease to determine which types of interventions are necessary. PHASE III – INTERVENTION
- PRIMARY INTERVENTION – Preventative Health by Lifestyle Management
- Access to lifestyle management programs
- weight loss competitions
- onsite weight watchers meetings
- Nutritional counseling (seminar)
- Access to health coach
- Gym membership reimbursement
- Walking programs (pedometers)
- Onsite Classes (Kickboxing/Yoga/Zumba)
- Smoking Cessation Program
- Access to lifestyle management programs
- SECONDARY INTERVENTION – Early Detection/Disease Management
- Immediate follow-up for patients with abnormal test results/onset of chronic disease or illness
- Great Neck for Nuclear Stress Testing
- Specialist referral (for non-cardiology health issues)
- Various programs targeting diabetes, heart disease, chronic lung disorders, and cancer including educational seminars, social support networks, access to online resources etc.
- Immediate follow-up for patients with abnormal test results/onset of chronic disease or illness
Once the employees complete the clinical phase of the wellness program, the company can designate a representative(s) who will be given administrator access to the online wellness portal in order to view the aggregate results of its employee base. The comprehensive suite of integrated tools helps identify members of a population with specific health risks or lifestyle behaviors to which targeted messaging and programs can be delivered. This valuable information that AccuHealth can provide is key to addressing the aggregate health issues of your organization’s employee base that will result in maximizing the wellness ROI and help to counteract the rising cost of healthcare.
What is a workplace wellness program?
A workplace wellness program is any program implemented by an employer/organization to promote health and wellness amongst the members of its staff. In general, a wellness program educates employees/members about health-related issues, promotes the maintenance of healthy lifestyles, and encourages employees/members to make healthier lifestyle choices.
Why should our company offer a wellness program at work?
Companies that implement a well designed, comprehensive, and effectively facilitated workplace wellness program have experienced lower healthcare costs, decreased absenteeism, and increased productivity and morale
What kind of return on investment can we expect from a workplace wellness program?
Growing evidence indicates that an effective workplace wellness program has an average rate of return on investment of $3.50 for every $1 invested. Companies also experience returns via reduced absenteeism and an increased level of productivity.
What are the goals of a workplace wellness program?
The goals of a workplace wellness program should be well defined and usually include any combination of the following:
- Improve general health and well-being
- Improve productivity
- Improve the sense of being a team
- Improve morale and attitude
- Increase employee retention
- Decrease absenteeism
- Decrease injuries
What does a workplace wellness program generally consist of?
Although workplace wellness programs can exist in many different forms, these programs typically include the following:
- Health risk assessments
- Biometric Screenings
- Health education seminars
- Smoking Cessation
- Fitness Incentives and rebates
- Weight Loss Programs/Goals
- Health Coaching
- Annual Physicals
How long have workplace wellness programs been around?
Workplace wellness programs have been around for decades in varying forms. Notwithstanding the length of time they have been in existence, the dramatic increase in healthcare costs over the past decade and the increased employee incentives for participation in such programs have helped to increase its relevance and popularity.
What kind of incentives can I offer employees to encourage participation?
In order to optimize the level of employee participation, employers are allowed to offer financial rewards to employees who participate. With that said, it is suggested that incentives be tied to sustained performance and not just participation in order to achieve long-term success. For those employees who do improve their health, the rewards may be in the form of a health premium discount or rebate, the absence of a charge, a waiver of cost-sharing, a cash equivalent payment such as a gift card. or coverage of a benefit that would not otherwise have been covered.
Are there wellness programs that aren’t incentive based?
There are employee wellness programs that are purely educational and have no financial implications whatsoever. For example, an employer may ask employees to complete a health risk assessment without offering any incentive or may offer free blood-pressure screenings, online education webinars, and a health physical.