Employers – this post on the value of disease management programs is for you.
How do you help an employee who is coping with a serious illness or injury? Flowers? A supportive meeting or phone call? Time off from work? All of the above? While all of these things are important, employees can really benefit from information and tools to help them better manage their, or a loved one’s, healthcare. And as you know, doing right by your employees is not just the right thing to do – it’s also good for business.
Medical expenses are large as employees (and their family members) deal with serious illnesses and injuries. Additionally, productivity can suffer, as employees miss work and/or lose concentration when they are patients or caregivers. The good news? Disease management programs can help employees and employers.
A RAND Corporation study demonstrated the benefits of disease management programs. Their seven year study at PepsiCo of >67,000 employees found that efforts to help employees manage chronic illness saved $3.78 in healthcare costs for every $1 spent. The lifestyle management programs helped a bit with absenteeism, but had no significant effect on healthcare costs.
Your employees are struggling more than you, and they, think.
Clearly, everyone knows that dealing with a serious illness or injury will lead to feelings of stress. However, most people don’t realize how badly they are doing with the actual management of their medical condition. Without realizing it, patients and family caregivers struggle to be engaged, effective members of their medical teams. As a result, employees may not get the best outcomes possible.
Here are some interesting research results:
- 40-80% of medical information provided by healthcare professionals is forgotten almost immediately. As one would expect, the more information presented, the lower the proportion remembered. Of the information patients remember, almost 50% of the information is not accurate.
- Health literacy – the ability to understand, process and use health related information – is only about 12% for US adults.
- Without clear understanding of medical information, patients are more likely be hospitalized, take medications improperly, skip needed tests, go to the ER more often, and have poorer health outcomes.
- Over 50% of Americans don’t take their medications as prescribed. When patients do not take their medications as prescribed, such as skipping or delaying doses, or taking the wrong dosage, serious problems can develop. In fact, medication non-compliance leads to thousands of adverse health events or deaths every month in the U.S.
Patient engagement is important.
Patients engaged in their care fare better. Studies have shown that effective communication between the patient and doctor leads to more appropriate medical decisions, better adherence to treatment plans and better health outcomes. Conversely, research has found that patients less involved in their care are more likely to experience a medical error in diagnosis or treatment plans, and have poor care coordination.
The value of disease management programs. Is it time to reevaluate your offerings?
Providing employees with the information and tools they need to manage an illness or injury will empower employees. Additionally, it will help them engage with their medical teams. Disease management offerings, like the ZaggoCare System, may save money. Engaging patients may reduce the number of hospitalizations and ER visits, reduce the risk of diagnostic errors, and lead to other cost savings.
Disease management programs may also reduce missed work hours. Absenteeism and lost productivity cost employers billions of dollars each year. For example, a 2009 report estimates that lost economic output associated with seven common health problems (cancer, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, mental disorders, pulmonary conditions and strokes) costs U.S. businesses an estimated $1 trillion dollars per year in lost work days and lowered productivity from employees who are patients and/or family caregivers.
With 77% of workers coping with chronic illness and 55% dealing with more than one chronic disease – and 18% of U.S. adults acting as family caregivers – it only makes sense to make sure you are helping your employees better manage medical conditions. Now is a good time to evaluate your disease management programs and see what improvements you can make. It’s a win-win proposition.