Everyday, there are health related time bombs ticking in people we know and care about. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that:
- 25% of people with diabetes do not know they have it (1) yet 11.5 million people visited the ER for a diabetes related condition (2).
- 50% of the people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) are undiagnosed; (3) and still COPD is the 3rd leading cause of death in 45-65 year olds (4).
- 70 % of people in a nationwide survey did not know all 5 symptoms of a heart attack, (5) but every 44 seconds someone in the US has a heart attack (6).
These statistics are sad but true; however, a lot can be done to change them.
One of my favorite Stephen Covey quotes is “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” Certainly, the main thing for all of us is staying alive. Employers are uniquely positioned to help employees and their families do just that.
The Importance of Healthcare Rooted In Relationship
As an employer, all 3 things that you can do to save lives are rooted in relationships. It is essential to cultivate meaningful, long lasting relationships. Employers that underestimate the impact they have on employees through providing access to, information about, and delivery of healthcare are missing a lifesaving opportunity.
The 3 things an employer can do are:
1. Cultivate amazing relationships with employees, their families and healthcare providers.
On an average weekday, residents of Hawaii spend approximately 7 ½ hours at work, 8 ½ hours sleeping and 2 ½ hours grooming, commuting, doing chores and praying (6). This leaves a whopping 5 ½ hours for family and social relationships, and healthcare needs to fit in there as well.
Bringing healthcare providers into the community and out of the traditional doctor’s office makes healthcare accessible and relevant to employees. Providers that know their patients, their patient’s families, work setting and community activities are the first step in revitalizing the employee’s relationship with his/her own health and healthcare. Most people don’t wake up on Sunday morning and decide to change their lifestyle to include healthy eating, exercise and proactive health awareness. Rather, change happens over time, when consistently reinforced and encouraged through relationships with care providers. When delivery is in step with the needs of the consumer, relevant to their lifestyle, in connection to providers and community based, healthcare is kept top of mind.
The Center for Health Futures surveyed physicians who rated highest in professional satisfaction to find out what fulfilled them. The results found the top three indicators for high professional satisfaction were relationships with patients, relationships with colleagues, and quality of life with their family (7). High provider satisfaction translates into high consumer satisfaction. Clearly, relationships are paramount for all parties involved in health.
Leveraging longstanding and trusted relationships between healthcare providers, employers, employees and the community strengthens those relationships and facilitates the integration of meaningful and lasting lifestyle changes – changes that can be life saving.
2. Create opportunities that make healthcare delivery relevant and fun.
Making healthcare fun may seem unimaginable given what most have come to know as the typical healthcare experience. Healthcare works when it is accessible, convenient, and top of mind. Five and a half hours for quality time with family, friends, personal alone time, and a few guilty pleasures renders healthcare to the corners of one’s life to be sought only when illness strikes. Healthcare can be made fun and relevant through partnerships between employers, schools, sports teams, local venders, and healthcare providers. By engaging all these groups, we find innovative ways to weave early detection, screening, educational opportunities, and care delivery into the tapestry of one’s life.
Here’s how: employers are uniquely positioned to facilitate a new and improved relationship with healthcare for their workforce. US Med works with employers to assess the lifestyles of employees then design unique interventions to reach the employees and their families where they are, in activities that are relevant to their lives and important to them and their loved ones.
Now comes the fun part – engaging participants to improve their health status with activities and incentives:
- Group competitions that measure and document health improvements, lifestyle changes and a thorough understanding of educational initiatives, while incentivizing participation with grand prizes.
- Parties at a local entertainment venues, water parks, beach parks, hotels, etc.
- Healthcare screenings held at private theme parties; casino night, Mexican fiesta party with a Mariachi band, and college or state champion sports events.
- Social media posts to share the healthcare experience, get the word out and fire up the competition
These are some of the entertaining and engaging ways we integrate healthcare into the lives of employees.
3. Mine vital healthcare claims data for golden nuggets of the hidden truth and take action on it.
Mining and analyzing claims data makes health programs actionable and saves lives. The self-insured employer and Health and Welfare Trust are uniquely positioned to analyze claims data, getting a 50,000-foot view of the employees’ behavior regarding healthcare consumption and the status of workforce health. This information provides guidance on educational needs, targeted outreach initiatives and areas of wasteful spending.
The federal government’s Meaningful Use initiative has accelerated the move towards transparency by making data usable, searchable and actionable. Claims data from utilization reveals opportunities for active engagement of consumers in their own healthcare needs. Data analysis also identifies providers who practice evidence based care – care that is proven to deliver needed outcomes. Evidence based care providers ensure safety and provide the best value by reducing waste and unnecessary costs.
Data analysis provides a stratification of the health status of the workforce. This information is vital in guiding health initiatives. The data highlights the hot spots to target with educational and outreach programs. It highlights the areas where healthcare may be failing to deliver or consumers are non-compliant with healthcare regimens. Transparent information is one of the most under-utilized health tools available today.
Saving Lives is Not as Costly as Many Believe
For less than the cost of basic cable, US Med Care Club provides deep returns for employees and their family’s health and quality of life. Relationships between employer, community, consumer, and healthcare provider all work together to identify life-threatening conditions, arrest the progression of these diseases and manage the care of individuals in the late stages of chronic illness.
Meaningful relationships are key in encouraging individuals to be engaged with their own health status and that of their loved ones. The primary relationship between an individual and the health care providers is renewed when healthcare delivery is relevant to one’s life, fun and memorable; and leveraging the power of data analytics is vital to guide the initiatives that will save lives.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Diabetes Statistics Report: Estimates of Diabetes and Its Burden in the United States, 2014. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2014.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Death and Mortality. NCHS FastStats Web site. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/deaths.htm. Accessed December 3, 2014
- Restrepo RD, Alvarez MT, Wittenbel LD et al. Medication adherence issues in patients treated for COPD. International Journal of COPD/ 2008; 3:371-381.
- American Lung Association. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Fact Sheet. May 2014. Chicago, IL. http://www.lung.org/lung-disease/copd/resources/facts-figures/COPD-Fact-Sheet.html Accessed December 3, 2014
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Morbidity and Mortality: 2009 Cart Book. Cardiovascular, Lung and Blood Diseases Accessed December 3, 2014
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heart Disease and Stroke: Consequences and Costs Million Hearts 2014. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2014.
- Bogue, RJ PhD. Guarneri JG MD. Reed M MD. Bradley K. Hughes J. MD. Special Report: Discouraged Doctors – Secrets of Physician Satisfaction The Physician Executive November December 2006