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Harnessing Data for Health and Wellness: 4 Part Framework

The Impact of Comprehensive Health Programs on Employee Wellbeing

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The Imperative of Systematic Health Tracking in the Workplace

In today’s fast-paced corporate environment, the health and wellbeing of employees are often overlooked. Most companies focus on direct expenses or liability exposure, such as disability claims and on-the-job injuries, neglecting the broader spectrum of employee health.

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The Future of Corporate Health Management

This narrow focus leaves a significant gap in understanding and improving the overall health of the workforce.

To address this, a systematic approach to measuring employee wellbeing is essential.

Without comprehensive data, organizations cannot effectively design or evaluate the impact of their health strategies.

The Four-Part Framework for Effective Health Management

Harvard Business Review introduces a four-part framework designed by the Cleveland Clinic to systematically assess and improve employee wellbeing.

This framework developed  is crucial for organizations aiming to develop targeted health programs that cater to the specific needs of their employees. Initially implemented within its own organization and later extended through its Advisory Services, where Talia Varley contributes her expertise. This framework is structured as follows:

Summary Measures:

This phase is divided into two main categories. The first category provides an overview of how various health conditions, injuries, and risk factors impact the workforce’s health, which varies significantly across different organizations.

For instance, an accounting-consulting firm with younger, white-collar employees might face high instances of anxiety and computer-related injuries, while a manufacturing company with an older, blue-collar workforce might see prevalent issues like diabetes and musculoskeletal problems.

The second category focuses on the extent to which employees receive guideline-based care, such as regular mammograms or appropriate medication post-heart attack. This data can be gathered from employee health coverage claims or direct surveys, which can reveal insights into their mental state, exercise habits, and diet. An example of this is Lufthansa’s “Health Index,” which helped the company monitor and maintain employee health during challenging times like the pandemic.

Upstream Drivers:

This phase considers the social, economic, and environmental factors that significantly influence a population’s health. Factors like income level, language skills, and local pollution levels are examples. Data for these drivers can be sourced from various places, including government research. For instance, identifying food deserts through workers’ zip codes can guide companies in providing necessary resources like fresh produce or aiding in supermarket development.

Real-time Indicators:

Companies can track certain health issues as they occur. This can be done through simple screening tools for mental health, particularly useful during traumatic events like pandemics or corporate changes. The use of wearable technology like smartwatches or fitness trackers is also becoming increasingly popular. For example, PwC’s research indicated employees’ willingness to share data from wearables, especially if it helps employers understand stress levels due to work factors like excessive meetings. Cisco’s initiative in Australia and New Zealand, which involved distributing Fitbits and organizing step challenges, successfully increased physical activity among its employees.

Key Enablers:

This final phase assesses the accessibility of health benefits provided to employees. It’s important not to mistake low utilization rates for a lack of need, especially in areas with known provider shortages like mental and primary health care. Insights can be gained through employee surveys, market intelligence, and claims data. An instance of addressing accessibility issues is seen in Aetna’s analysis for United Airlines employees at Newark airport, where a significant number of non-emergency ER visits were recorded. To tackle this, United and Aetna launched a communication campaign to guide employees towards more appropriate care facilities, demonstrating how addressing access issues can reduce unnecessary healthcare costs and time.

By implementing this framework, companies can move beyond traditional health measures and create a more holistic approach to employee wellness.

The Role of Data in Shaping Health Strategies

Data plays a pivotal role in shaping effective health strategies. By systematically collecting and analyzing health-related data, organizations can gain insights into the general health of their workforce.

This information is invaluable in designing health programs that are not only effective but also tailored to the unique needs of the employee population. The use of data in health management is a game-changer, allowing companies to set clear priorities and measure the effectiveness of their health initiatives.

The Impact of Comprehensive Health Programs on Employee Wellbeing

Comprehensive health programs, informed by systematic data collection and analysis, have a profound impact on employee wellbeing. These programs go beyond addressing immediate health concerns, fostering a culture of wellness within the organization.

Employees benefit from tailored health strategies that cater to their specific needs, leading to improved overall health and productivity. Companies that invest in such programs not only enhance the wellbeing of their employees but also set a new standard in corporate health management.

The Future of Corporate Health Management

The future of corporate health management lies in the strategic use of data to design and implement comprehensive health programs.

By adopting a systematic approach to employee health, companies can create a healthier, more productive workforce. This shift towards data-driven health strategies represents a significant advancement in the way organizations approach employee wellbeing.

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