Thursday, July 17, 2008

What Are the Top Ten Features of Cost-Saving Employer Sponsored Wellness Programs?

In the second day and concluding day of the WRG Conference, we heard from WebMD’s Larry Chapman. He echoed yesterday’s comments from Emory University: there is no doubt that employer sponsored wellness programs (many of which resemble classic disease management) have a return on investment (ROI). There are multiple positive studies from disparate settings including NORTEL, Duke University, the City of Birmingham and DuPont.

What are the lessons from such successful wellness programs you ask? Good thing the Disease Management Care Blog kept notes:

1. Don’t limit ROI economic measures to just claims expense. Include turnover, absenteeism, disability, workman’s compensation and presenteeism. That may inflate the ROI, but these domains are also important to employers and they want to know,

2. Enhance risk reduction and mitigation by promoting employee awareness, increasing motivation and helping them develop new skills,

3. Use a total population health model that is ‘results oriented,’

4. Include employees’ spouses,

5. Require employee participation in an annual health risk assessment (HRA). Think about making it part of open enrollment,

6. Let the employees fund most if not all of wellness incentives through premium differential. Don’t be shy about ‘play or pay’ and ‘getting everyone on the wellness bus,’

7. Coordinate wellness with the insurance benefit, particularly with consumer directed health plans (CDHPs) and any other cost sharing approaches,

8. Promote self care. An example is promoting WebMD’s ‘symptom checker,’

9. Promote consumer education that includes not only condition but benefit management. In fact, consider requiring CDHP participants attend a ‘how to’ workshop. Furthermore, emphasize injury prevention (an example is seat belts) and provide aggressive intervention programs for enrollees with multiple health risks,

10. Offer a tiered wellness incentive with real money based on explicitly defined criteria.

No comments: