Supporting Employee’s Health: Chronic Conditions and Wellness Programs

In our previous article, we explored metrics for evaluating a successful employee wellness program to help ensure your existing program is measured by the right metrics. As a refresher, the metric to focus on is not ROI as many wellness programs were historically measured by, but instead to focus on Value on Investment, or VOI. 

VOI consists of a more holistic approach in measuring all of the ways that an effective employee wellness program can benefit your organization. Value on Investment can be measured across different areas of the business including but not limited to: 

  • Higher customer satisfaction ratings
  • Increased profitability for the company
  • Increased productivity from the employee
  • Lower turnover
  • Lower healthcare claims costs

Want to read the full guide to Evaluating the Success of Your Corporate Wellness Program? Get the comprehensive guide here.

Supporting Your Employee’s Health: Chronic Conditions and Wellness Programs

There is an ongoing health crisis that preceded the global pandemic. The number of Americans with chronic health conditions has been steadily rising for several decades:

  • An estimated 157 million people in the U.S. have one or more chronic health conditions
  • About 30% of people with these conditions report that it limits their daily activities
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 90% of $3.5 trillion in annual healthcare expenditures goes toward treating chronic and mental health conditions
  • The economic cost of chronic disease in terms of lost productivity was $1.24 trillion in 2016

These factors and more contribute to the trend of companies incorporating wellness programs into their benefits with a focus on lifestyle management. Many of these programs center entirely on efforts meant to encourage physical fitness, smoking cessation, healthy eating, and exercise. 

But what many companies fail to realize is this: focusing on lifestyle management alone is not enough to support all of your employees. 

Why Lifestyle Management Programs Aren’t Enough

Emphasizing lifestyle management really addresses only part of the overall problem. While initiatives centered around physical fitness or healthy eating can have long-term benefits, companies may not achieve much, if any, short term savings on healthcare claims and may not realize any significant long-term benefit either. Most importantly, lifestyle management programs often do not address the immediate downsides of chronic disease in employee wellness. 

Employees suffering from chronic conditions such  as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression are more are more likely to miss work and to incur costs in the healthcare system. Companies would better serve these employees by developing a comprehensive wellness program to help people:

  • Better manage their disease with personalized care management programs
  • Get appropriate care in the most cost-effective settings—for example, avoiding the emergency room or hospital admissions whenever possible 

These simple factors can generate significant savings, boosting the short-term value of a wellness program and dramatically lowering claims costs. They can also improve the long-term health and well-being of employees with chronic health conditions.

A Rand study examined 10 years of data from wellness programs at Fortune 100 companies and found that for those with both lifestyle and disease management components, only the latter contributed significantly to a reduction in healthcare claims costs. Disease management delivered an average of $136 in savings per member per month, and reduced hospital admissions by 30%. For a large company (2,000+ employees), this could realistically save hundreds of thousands in healthcare costs. 

Delivering Chronic Condition Support On-Demand

Many companies develop wellness programs with specific goals in mind, and focus their efforts on achieving goals that are measurable and attainable. For many companies, this means focusing on ROI and trying to reduce healthcare costs more than the cost of the wellness program. For most, that is enough.

However, the overwhelming increase in chronic conditions over the past decade combined with the global pandemic has exacerbated existing issues and created new ones. There is a new imperative for large organizations to focus on more than just the short-term ROI of reducing healthcare costs and look to broader approaches that will help support all their population’s needs.

Burnalong works to support employers and organizations of all sizes as they build an inclusive and effective wellness program that is designed to reach everyone – no matter their age, interest, level, or chronic condition. 

Burnalong features classes and expert content from hundreds of wellness professionals from around the country, producing 1000’s of classes in more than 45 categories – spanning from traditional fitness and yoga all the way to nutrition, stress management, prenatal and postnatal, and more. 

What’s more, Burnalong places a specific focus on supporting people with chronic conditions, with classes for people suffering from Diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, cancer management, Arthritis, as well as Adaptive Workouts. Support for these conditions comes from many different categories across the catalog, with nutrition classes for people with high blood sugar and type II diabetes as well as boxing and physical fitness classes for those living with Parkinson’s disease.

Want to learn more about how Burnalong can help bring holistic wellness to your organization? Speak with one of our wellness consultants for a free consultation to learn more about how you can help support all of your employees.

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