The Well-Being Journal

Infographic: More Americans Now Have Health Insurance, New Gallup Data Shows

Madison Agee

New data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index® demonstrates that, despite the many hiccups associated with rolling out provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), the healthcare law has led to a tremendous shift in health insurance coverage. In the third quarter of 2013, 18 percent of Americans were without health insurance; by the first quarter of 2014, that number was down to 13.5 percent, its lowest point in years.

Check out our newest infographic, which reveals some fascinating insights from Gallup-Healthways research, including which states are seeing the greatest percentage of their residents without insurance as well as how health insurance coverage affects well-being.

For a deep dive into the data, Dan Witters, research director at Gallup, extensively discussed trends associated with health insurance data in a Healthways-sponsored webinar last month.

To learn more about the Well-Being Index, visit http://info.healthways.com/wbi2013.

The ACA's Impact on Health Insurance Coverage Nationally, Regionally and Individually

 

Topics: In the News Healthcare Gallup ACA

Which Has a Greater Impact on Employee Productivity: Well-Being or Chronic Disease?

Madison Agee

Having a chronic condition no doubt has an impact on your productivity at work. Employers are well aware of this fact, and typically structure their wellness programs to focus on improving their employees’ physical health to prevent productivity loss. This approach is understandable, given that the existing body of scientific literature supports the idea that physical health (such as the presence or absence of chronic illnesses) is the primary contributor to worker productivity.

However, findings from a new study recently published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine has called this commonly held belief into question. The study showed that employees’ well-being is actually a more important contributor to on-the-job productivity than their chronic disease status. The study, “Comparing the Contributions of Well-Being and Disease Status to Employee Productivity,” is the first to challenge the common belief that physical health is the primary contributor to employee productivity levels. It’s also the first study to specifically show that well-being improvement can increase productivity in both healthy populations and those with disease.

Well-being is a more complex and holistic measure. Well-being considers not only the important role of physical health but also a person’s sense of purpose, social relationships, financial security and community attachment.

“As individuals, we intuitively know that we are not at our best when we are stressed about anything that is important to our well-being,” said James E. Pope M.D., chief science officer at Healthways and coauthor of the article. “What this research has shown is how these elements of well-being interact to drive decreased productivity. Equally exciting is the discovery that programs designed to help improve the overall well-being can improve the productivity of both healthy and chronically ill individuals alike.

“Measuring employee well-being and understanding the unique aspects of their populations will help employers achieve more successful outcomes with their programs. Higher well-being manifests in greater degrees of creativity, innovation and employee engagement, all of which can improve value for employers by shifting the focus from productivity loss to productivity gain.”

The two-year survey tracked the well-being of more than 2,600 employees at three different companies. Researchers divided the employees into two groups: those that had no chronic conditions and those with diabetes (these individuals may have had other health conditions). Diabetes was selected as the focus chronic condition due to its prevalence and demonstrated impact on productivity.

The study showed that employees with higher well-being demonstrated greater workplace productivity, regardless of whether they suffered from chronic conditions. In addition, well-being was more important than chronic disease or demographic factors in defining how productive a person would be in any given year. Over time, changes in well-being contributed significantly to shifts in productivity beyond what could be explained by any individual characteristic, such as disease status, age, gender or socioeconomic status.

To read more about improving on-the-job productivity, download a copy of Healthways’ eBook 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Improving Productivity in the Workplace.

Topics: Well-Being In the News Workplace Well-Being Healthcare Competitive Advantage Productivity Health Conditions Science and Research Health Status

"Population Well-Being" Capabilities Come to Independent Physicians in North Texas

Sandy Cummings

gty_dallas_kb_140321_16x9_992Imagine, for a minute, what it must be like to be a physician. You spent all those hard years in school because you wanted to help people live long, healthy, productive lives. And then you start practicing medicine, and probably fairly quickly come to realize that there is only so much you can do to fulfill your mission because you can't sustainably influence what is often the underlying cause of illness: lives lived short of their potential.

Physicians see the impacts of stress, loneliness and isolation. They understand that their patients don't need another lecture on losing weight or stopping smoking because they already know these things are bad for their health. They're well aware that once their patients leave their office, their attempts to change their lifestyles to improve their physical well-being will often fall short. Pressures at work, financial worries, lack of support and encouragement, and so many other concerns create barriers to change that physicians typically are powerless to address, particularly across their entire patient population.

Healthways has teamed up with the largest independent physicians association in North Texas, Genesis Physicians Group (GPG), to directly address this issue. You can read about it in HealthLeaders, or read our press release here. We just wanted to take a minute to share how excited we are about our new joint venture, GenHealth.

Ben R. Leedle, Jr., Healthways' president and chief executive officer, summed up the news:

“Not only are physicians the most trusted, credible influencers of individual health behaviors, but an individual’s bond with his or her physician is one of the most enduring. As healthcare continues to transform in response to untenable healthcare costs, poor overall health, and weaker competitive positions for American companies and communities, innovative healthcare providers such as GPG are assuming more financial and quality outcomes risk for their patient populations. In so doing, they are embracing a scientifically proven approach that has well-being – not sick care – at its core. We firmly believe that by directly supporting the patient-physician relationship with well-being improvement solutions, we will create faster, more sustained engagement in order to proactively reduce the causes and effects of disease and achieve significantly greater impacts on medical savings, productivity and performance.”

 

Topics: Healthy Living Well-Being In the News Healthcare Motivation Healthways Genhealth Population Well-Being Genesis Physicians Group

Dr. Dean Ornish on Sustaining Lifestyle Changes

Sandy Cummings

Dr. Dean Ornish has been a part of the Healthways family for not quite a year now. As he travels the world, discussing both the impact of positive lifestyle changes and the best ways to go about about making sure those changes can be sustained, I'm often struck by how consistent and powerful his messages are.

For example, in this HuffPost video, where he says, "Fear, shame and guilt are not sustainable."

Or in this Parade article, which leads off with his reassuring, "Your genes are not your fate."

And then, when comparing lifestyle change to traditional medical approaches: "These simple lifestyle changes work even better at a fraction of the cost, and the only side effects are good ones," which he shared recently in Everyday Health.

Dr. Ornish is at the forefront of a movement to change our nation's emphasis on "sick care" -- work so powerful, it's becoming the cornerstone of healthcare reform initiatives, as this article in USA Today describes.

Whether you're grappling with chronic disease or simply living a life that somehow feels like it's missing the mark, having a clear path to well-being improvement makes a big difference. I hope you'll spend a few minutes with Dr. Ornish via this coverage and start walking down that path.

Topics: Healthy Living Well-Being In the News Healthcare Health Community Prevention Wellness Healthways Chronic Disease Ornish Lifestyle Medicine