Is It Time to Rethink Your Wellness Strategy?

By Scott McDuffie, Senior Director with Willis Towers Watson

Scott McDuffie, Senior Director with Willis Towers Watson

When is the last time that you rethought your corporate wellness strategy? If you could start from square one and design a new program, would that new program look the same as your current program? As an employee benefits advisor to companies, my recommendations today are different than they were five years ago, primarily due to some exceptional products that are now available.

If you haven’t recently reviewed your existing wellness strategy, I’d recommend that you do so with these tips in mind:

Think in terms of Health Outcomes as opposed to Wellness – Health outcomes focus on impacting overall health as opposed to wellbeing.

1.In the past, many wellness experts focused specifically on the population that you would consider to be “well.” The thought process was that it was too late to impact those that had advanced to the chronic care situation, so the goal would be to keep your good employees from declining in health. Times have changed. Select vendors have shown great results in managing chronic care conditions, both from a financial as well as a quality of life standpoint.

"Whether your population is more prone to MSK, mental health, or other issues, there are many newer vendors that are effectively leveraging technology to achieve improved results"

2. Show Me the Money! – Think like a CFO. An investment in health outcomes is an investment in your employees. CFOs typically like to see ROI for significant investments. My clients do not have unlimited budgets for wellness programs. They typically implement them in phases. And these programs often require the approval of the CFO. Because of this, I recommend that you consider programs that have significant and fast returns on investment as the foundation of your health outcomes program. Why? Because if you can show savings, or return on investment, with these programs, then you can create a budget to expand your program. Additionally, you will earn the trust of your CFO, who will be more open to approving future programs, assuming approval is required. If you already have a program, but you’re not specifically addressing chronic care conditions in an intensive manner, consider doing so selectively, as the savings can be significant.

3. Not All Health Conditions Are Created Equal – It has often been said that diabetes management programs have very quick ROIs. At no point has that been truer than today. It costs more today to insure your average diabetic, partly due to drug costs. Due to this, it is easier to achieve savings with an effective program. There are a few diabetes-specific vendors that have dramatically changed the landscape, allowing many of our participants to discontinue these expensive medications and dramatically improve their quality of life. There is a huge disparity in some of the diabetes programs. If you’re not using one of the better ones, you should. Keep in mind that as diabetics develops other chronic conditions, their claims costs begin to increase exponentially. The sooner the person can be impacted, the better.

Obviously, you should tailor your program to meet the specific needs of your company. But whether your population is more prone to MSK, mental health, or other issues, there are many newer vendors that are effectively leveraging technology to achieve improved results. Achieving an ROI in a few major areas can create a budget that allows you to leverage some of these best-in-class programs.

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