Report gives credence to wellness, preventive healthcare measures
The report, Synergies at Work: Realizing the Full Value of Health Investments, says a holistic approach to workforce health management that emphasizes both direct medical costs and productivity health care can lead to improvements in workforce productivity, lost time and medical costs. It was produced by the Integrated Benefits Institute and the University of Michigan Center for Value-Based Insurance Design and funded by the National Pharmaceutical Council.
For a 10,000-life sample employer, only 30 percent of its health-related costs for workers is spent on medical care -- including occupational injuries, according to the report. The rest goes to wage replacement payments and lost productivity that result from absence or reduced job performance related to ill health.
Employers can learn the true value of a healthy workforce through better data analysis. In addition to looking at medical offsets, the report says it's imperative to also measure the effects in increased productivity that accompanies improvements in health.
"Some companies only collect PTO [data] and don't know why employees are absent," said Kim Jinnet, IBI research director. "Being able to see what occurs is a critical component. Job performance is rarely measured in terms of its health-related component."
The authors say that looking at direct medical costs as well as productivity costs will paint a more accurate picture of the economic impact of an intervention, such as a return-to-work program. "Integrated data, health related absence information, such as sick leave, family medical leave and whether the absence is due to the employee or a family member, workers' comp information, short-term disability, job performance and other health related information -- that's ideal," Jinnet said.
While some companies are beginning to build integrated databases, many employers don't have the resources to do so. One way to start is by adding onto existing resources.
"We think there is a lot of value in employers seriously considering self-reporting tools," Jinnet said. "Many have health risk assessments they may use during open enrollment. By simply adding a few items that get at absence and job performance, that can go a lot further in trying to understand the connection [between medical offsets and productivity gains.]"
Jinnet said several leading instruments are also available such as the HPQ/HPQ-Select, Work Limitations Questionnaire, Stanford Presenteeism Scale and the Worker Productivity and Activity Impairment.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
April 14, 2011
Copyright 2011© LRP Publications