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Lifestyle changes for the workforce

Includes excerpts from The Self Insurer, January 2019

The numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are staggering: nearly half of U.S. adults have at least one chronic disease such as diabetes, heart disease or obesity and 25 percent have two or more.

And while most employers are aware of the prevalence of chronic health conditions among employee populations and the high cost of treating them, what may not be clear is a way to move forward toward a healthier future. Fortunately, there is momentum to engage patients in their own health without the use of medications or surgery, using an approach called Lifestyle Medicine (LM). It’s a model of care that every employer, insurer and health system should be interested in—one that is both evidence-based and proven to prevent, delay and even reverse many chronic diseases.

Participant outcomes have been impressive. For Diabetes Prevention Programs (such as Johns Hopkins’ act2), participants were 34 percent less likely to progress from prediabetes to diabetes over a 10-year period. The outcomes from such programs continue to confirm that lifestyle changes can be implemented successfully and can positively impact participant health as well as lower health care costs. And the good news is that self-insured employers are among those organizations most likely to benefit from using a LM approach to health care, because costs go down when a defined population stays healthy.

In addition to diabetes prevention, employers might consider following Johns Hopkins Medicine’s lead in launching initiatives for its own employees such as:

  • Building employee health into the business plan and holding executives accountable for meaningful improvements
  • Lowering health insurance premiums for employees who don’t smoke
  • Offering onsite employee health clinics that serve as a resource to address individual health and wellness needs
  • Making healthy food and beverages more readily accessible
  • Sponsoring walking events during work hours
  • Making lactation rooms more readily available for nursing mothers

Johns Hopkins offers employers a variety of programs that can improve employee health.  Visit www.Healthy.Works to learn more.

To read the complete article in The Self Insurer, click here. The author, Richard Safeer, M.D. is the medical director of Employee Health, Wellness and Innovation for Johns Hopkins HealthCare.