The Well-Being Journal

Nov. 15: Are you taking the day off? It’s the Great American Smokeout.

Jennifer Rudloff

On November 15, 2012, people across the nation will be taking the day off from smoking and other tobacco products by participating in the American Cancer Society’s 37th Annual Great American Smokeout. Healthways is here to help.

We’re here to educate and supply people with resources and support to quit successfully. Through our QuitNet® program, more than 1.4 million members worldwide have saved almost $5 billion by kicking the tobacco habit for good. And when people become healthier by quitting, they also become happier and more productive, which benefits not just the individual, but families, friends and employers, too.

Learn more amazing facts about the impact of tobacco use, and some of the resources we offer for quitting in the Healthways infographic below. And if you’re a tobacco user, remember to mark your calendar for Nov. 15—take the day off and then quit for good.

Topics: Healthy Living Financial Well-Being Well-Being Workplace Well-Being Engagement Physical Health Business Performance Health Competitive Advantage Productivity Social Well-Being Success Stories Smoking

Avoidable Cost Model Yields Big Savings

Jennifer Rudloff

When it comes to healthcare spending in the United States, there are some shocking facts:

  • By 2020 annual healthcare spending is estimated to reach $4.64 trillion dollars. (That’s a big chunk of change.)
  • In 2009, healthcare spending accounted for 17.6% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). And by 2019, it’s projected to reach 19.3% of GDP.
  • America’s healthcare spending is projected to grow at an annual average rate of 5.8% from 2010 to 2020. (That’s a growth rate 1.1% faster than the expected growth in GDP.)

But it doesn’t have to be that way. With the help of timely interventions, a significant portion of this burden could be avoided. By taking a holistic approach to health and well-being, monitoring the entire population (both diseased and non-diseased members) we can deliver impactful, personalized interventions to members in the greatest need. That’s the philosophy behind Total Population Health, but it hasn’t always worked out that way in practice.

Historically, organizations have relied on risk assessments, age/sex demographics, and pharmacy based models designed and used in disease management to identify members in the greatest need of these programs. But these models are flawed – they often rely on cost triggers to target individuals who exceed a certain cost threshold. But we know that low cost doesn’t necessarily mean low risk – they may be a “ticking time bomb” as a result of not maintaining their health.

There had to be a better way. Our Healthways Center for Health Research went to work developing a predictive model that would bridge the gap between the conception of the total population health approach and reality.

The result? The Avoidable Cost Model. Designed to identify the high-risk segments of the population who are likely to have near term, costly (but avoidable) in patient events, the avoidable cost model allows for proactive care management tailor fit to meet the needs of your population using member claim data.

And unlike standard, disease-specific models that are frequently used to predict future health risks, our model allows for early interventions for members with whom there is the greatest opportunity to have an impact and helps to optimize the use of intervention resources. It also produces greater healthcare savings; in fact, when compared with a model developed to predict high-cost members in a diseased population, the avoidable cost model captured an additional $15 million dollars in total savings.

To find out more about our research on the avoidable cost model and see how it compares to other models in the market, check out the paper below.

Predictive Modeling: The Application of a Consumer-Specific Avoidable Cost Model in a Commercial Population

Topics: Healthcare Save on Health Business Performance Prevention

Don’t Stress – Employee Well-Being Is Simple

Jennifer Rudloff

Whether it stems from work, family or finances, stress is a part of life that’s tough to fully escape. While external pressures will always come and go, there are steps that we can take to help to manage and eliminate stress in our daily lives, and they don’t have to be costly solutions.

There are many ways that employers can help reduce the stress of their employees, we’ve outlined a few stress-reducing ideas that could be executed in almost any workplace. On an organizational level, these activities are very inexpensive, or in many cases, free.

  • Walking during lunch: Even if it’s just for 15 minutes each day, taking a brisk walk around your office can allow employees to clear their heads and return to work feeling refreshed and with more focus. Depending on the climate, organizations might consider creating indoor walking paths around the office or outdoor walking maps of the surrounding areas. To take it one step further, think about organizing walking moais for your colleagues, or consider providing pedometers to make walking a little more fun (they could even download an app like monumental to their phones.) Fun fact: pedometer users walked at least 2,000 more steps each day than nonusers, increasing their physical activity levels by 27%. Regardless of how they choose to move, there are many benefits to moving more at work.
  • Office pot lucks: Whether it’s company wide or with individual teams, organizing office pot luck lunches once a month will allow your employees to connect with each other over a nice meal. These could be themed for each month – but the company should always encourage healthy choices. Having regular “non-work” events like this breaks up the workday and provides an incentive that employees can look forward to, rather than stressing about current tasks at hand. It will also help to build a collaborative environment and provide a sense of belonging, which can help drive engagement.
  • Group athletic activities: Company stress-busting initiatives don’t have to require major financial investments. You can build a culture that supports fitness activities and add a little fun to the workday. It can be as simple as allowing employees flex time so that they can go visit a local yoga studio. Or it could mean encouraging employees to bring in their favorite fitness DVD’s (or providing them a library of choices) and allowing a space to gather together and sweat.
  • Organizing clubs: Clubs are a great way for employees to connect on a social level inside and outside the office. Organizations should communicate to their employees that clubs are welcome, and that these clubs can use the company setting (such as conference rooms) for gatherings or discussions if needed. Whether the group focuses on food, books, tea, or other interests, communicating the acceptance of non-work-related clubs to employees indicates that your organization supports the lifestyles of employees outside of the office. If possible, the company could also donate a few healthy snacks for club meetings.
  • Lunch breaks: This sounds like a no-brainer for stress reduction, but in a time when many companies are doing more with less, many employees have taken to eating lunches at their desks on a regular basis. In fact, some 70% of Americans report to eating at their desks several times a week. Encouraging your employees to take lunch breaks, even short ones, allows them to take the time to actually focus on enjoying their lunches (which can help to prevent mindless overeating), and connect with colleagues. Furthermore, desks dirty – in fact, on average; desks are 400 times dirtier than your toilet.

While some worry about the “loss” of productivity that comes with giving employees time for their own mental and physical health, improving the well-being of employees has actually been proven to increase workplace productivity. Think about it: taking an hour –or even half an hour – each day to clear your head allows you to return to work with a clean mental slate. When we feel fit and focused, we’re better workers.

If you’re looking for a point person to help set some of the above ideas in motion, try your company’s human resources director or manager. We bet they’ll be happy to work with you on investigating ways to improve the well-being of the people at your company, particularly those that can be done with minimal investment. For more ideas on decreasing stress while simultaneously increasing productivity, contact us about our solutions.

How does your company help decrease the stress of its employees?

Topics: Healthy Living Workplace Well-Being Business Performance Stress Social Well-Being Stress Management

The Science of Well-Being

Jennifer Rudloff

Why does Well-Being matter? Intrinsically, we all understand that higher well-being is better. That much is pretty straight forward. What you may not realize is the impact well-being has on key business metrics such as healthcare costs, productivity, performance, and employee engagement for your organization. In this white paper, The Science of Well-Being, we explore the evidence around why improving well-being is critical for elevating your businesses performance.

Key Points include:

  • Explanation and validation of the measures used in the Healthways Well-Being Assessment™ (WBA)
  • Discussion of the components included in the WBA and why they're important to business leaders
  • How our productivity measures can be used to diagnose areas of opportunity to improve performance
  • Examination of key findings regarding how well-being relates to:
    • Health care utilization and cost
    • Productivity (absenteeism and presenteeism)
    • Job performance
    • Employee engagement

White Paper: The Science of Well-Being

Topics: Healthy Living Well-Being Basic Access Work Environment Workplace Well-Being Physical Health Business Performance Health Emotional Health Well-Being Index HRA Wellness Measure Wellness wellbeing assessment Life Evaluation Productivity Healthways Health Risk Assessment