4 Ways to Improve Employees' Chronic Health Conditions
There is a significant financial impact on businesses when employees become ill or are living with a chronic health condition. Productivity suffers because employees are absent from work either due to minor colds or more serious illnesses such as cancer, heart disease or diabetes. The good news is that companies can minimize the monetary impact and the associated healthcare costs while offering employees ways to improve and manage their health by following these steps:
Which conditions are costing the company the most: Review insurance data to identify which health issues involve the most medical costs. Usually these conditions include ongoing, chronic conditions and catastrophic illnesses and injuries. The data will also identify which employees have the highest medical and pharmacy cost utilization. Use this data to determine the health risks facing your population and develop programs to improve these specific conditions.
Offer programs to lower employees’ health risks: In addition to a corporate wellness program that promotes healthy lifestyle behaviors such as weight, stress and financial management, smoking cessation and exercise, employers can offer programs that zero in on high cost, high risk employees. One-on-one coaching and support from a health professional is an ideal way to better manage risk factors and existing chronic health problems. Guidance for those employees who face more serious illnesses and injuries can reduce excessive healthcare spending. Timely psycho-social support can also be offered to employees during the many phases of illness from diagnosis to treatment through recovery.
Reduce diagnostic errors with appropriate providers: According to a report from the Institute of Medicine, misdiagnosis and other inefficiencies cost the US economy about $750 billion a year. Misdiagnosis is not only costly, but too frequently results in serious harm to employees. Educate employees about duplicative and inappropriate testing through second opinion programs. These programs connect employees to specialists who can review the employee’s initial diagnosis and treatment before undergoing unnecessary and expensive tests, procedures or treatments.
Encourage preventive care services: Even though employees understand that the benefits of preventive care services such as blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and cancer screenings can detect chronic and serious health problems before they are advanced or cause serious complications, too many do not take advantage of these services. Incentivize employees to undergo age-appropriate screenings. Consider providing on-site wellness events to make the screenings more accessible and to educate employees about simple changes they can make to take better care of themselves.
All these tools will improve productivity by keeping employees healthy and present at work. In the end, medical costs for both employer and employee will decrease -- a win-win for everyone.