As global competition continues to rise, employers are increasingly finding the importance in a healthy and productive work force. Employees’ health has both a direct and indirect impact on an employer’s bottom line, and to battle these costs, more employers are focusing on wellness programs, according to Change Agent Work Group.
In fact, in a recent CAWG webinar on wellness, Kate Kohn-Parrott, president and CEO of Greater Detroit Area Health Council, noted that employees’ lifestyles made a huge impact on an employer’s financial situation because many of the diseases suffered by the population, such as diabetes, are directly related to poor health decisions.
Develop and embrace an organizational vision of health
The first element is developing and embracing an organizational vision of health. Many employers first focus on the importance of employee health by reducing short-term medical costs; however, research shows that a short-term focus on medical costs – instead of a strategic vision of employee health – only provides limited results. Rather, employers should focus on making employee health a central part of the organizational vision.
Senior management commitment and participation
Employers should then secure senior management commitment and participation. When it comes to implementation, senior leadership is responsible for ensuring that all managers recognize their own responsibilities in the culture of health because they lead the way for establishing the programs and policies designed to encourage healthier lifestyles for employees. Often it takes evidence and research to show these senior leaders the financial correlation between productivity and healthy employees.
Address workplace policies and the work environment
Workplace policies as well as the work environment should completely support the health goals of an organization. For example, many employers now have smoke-free workplace policies. There is already precedence for this as many employers already have policies that guide employee behavior, such as safety policies, in place.
Identify diagnostics, informatics and metrics
Set health goals and program elements
When setting goals, it is better to tie them to improvements than fixed endpoints. To do so, employers should focus on treating high-risk employees by putting them on the road to better health and helping healthy employees maintain their good habits. Health programs should be implemented because of their abilities to push trends in the right direction and accelerate the pace of improvement.
Create a value-based plan design
As more employers are considering cost-sharing approaches, they should look at a model that is based on the value of particular benefits to individual patients. Most of today’s cost-sharing models take a one-size-fits-all approach, but employers can better control costs by implementing a value-based plan design, which tailors co-payments to the evidence-based value of specific services for targeted groups of patients.
Integrate patient-centered medical home and chronic care management
To provide comprehensive primary care and attain better health outcomes, a patient-centered medical home model is recommended. With a PCMH, each patient has a continuing relationship with a personal physician trained to provide ongoing, comprehensive care.
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