A smart strategy for managing the cost of healthcare, and to boost employee productivity, it is important to have a strong focus on preventive care. This makes sense on a national level, where one of the key strategies of healthcare reform is removing cost and access barriers to preventive services. It makes particular sense for employee populations, where the improved health of individuals pays off not only in the avoided cost of sick care, but also in improved productivity.
Boost Employee Productivity by Following These Steps
How can employers implement a strategy to promote preventive care at their organizations?
- Offering interventions at the worksite such as biometric screenings and immunizations. While the big pay-off may be in early detection of a potentially serious condition, there are also immediate and short-term health benefits for both at-risk and healthy populations.
- Ensuring that employees and their families have access to primary and preventive care. This may include resources to help them identify a primary care physician (PCP). In areas where access to primary care is difficult due to high demand or low supply, employers might consider an onsite health center with dedicated healthcare providers for their population.
- Promote an environment that’s conducive to individual well-being, encouraging activity during the work day, making nutritious foods available in the lunch room, and offering resources to help employees take control of their health.
What are the most clinically important and cost-effective preventative services for employee productivity?
According to recommendations from the Partnership for Prevention, along with other organizations such as U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, they include screening for hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity, certain cancers (e.g. breast, colorectal), childhood and adult immunizations, smoking-cessation counseling, and the use of daily aspirin for individuals at risk for cardiovascular disease.
As with other investments, employers can use net present value or future cost avoided to calculate how the value of their investment will go up over time. But that may be too linear a way to think about it. How about considering the value gained for each dollar spent today? How about asking the same question we would for any other purchase: what am I getting for my money?
Preventative health success story
Recently, a man named John walked into the newly-opened employee health center operated by Marathon Health at the insurance company where he worked. He thought it might be a convenient place to get his medications refilled. But John’s routine health screening was a wake-up call: he was the heaviest he had ever been, and his blood glucose had risen into diabetic range. He hadn’t played hockey in years, and his gym membership had lapsed. It was time for a change.
With the help of his healthcare provider, appropriate medication, a better diet, and a healthy obsession with his activity tracker, he turned his life around. His health stats are all within normal range now, and he has more energy for work. And he’s back to doing what he loves—playing hockey, this time with his 20-year old son.
Imagine stories like John’s emerging all around an organization. Imagine if each of those employees inspired a few others to do something about their health now, rather than later. The investment value of has gone up, and also out in many directions.