Top 10 Scary Health Cost Stats that Employers Must Know for 2017

Posted by Abena Osei-Kwabena

 

From insurance coverage to increasing the productivity, good health of employees gives good returns to you in the long run. In order to get a high ROI here are the top 10 health cost stats that every employer must know in 2017…

 

1. Rising cost of biologics

Biological pharmaceuticals currently account for less than 3.5% of a corporation’s total healthcare expenditure. However, many new biologics are entering the marketplace and will soon represent 70% of the total medications. With it, the therapy costs can be $25,000 to $75,000, making the average cost of a biologic in the US about $45 compared to just $2 for chemical or molecule-based medicines.

 

2. Oral medication cost vs. injectable costs

Oral medication costs are generally charged to corporate benefits plans, whereas injectable medications and infused drugs are often covered by provincial health plans in Canada.

 

3. Smoking and lifestyle habits

There has been a considerable rise in chronic illness and obesity in the past decade. Smoking habits cost employers $570 million, whereas employees combating obesity cost about $73.1 billion per year.

 

4. Specialty Drugs vs. Transplantation costs

Spending on specialty medicines (medication for cancer, Hepatitis C, etc.) is expected to rise from $187 billion in 2016 to about $402 billion by 2020. Regular spending on specialty drugs can sometimes be higher than even transplant costs. For example, a person with mild liver disease can incur an average annual cost of $17,000 with specialty drugs—which will continue for 10 years, at least! However, compared to liver transplantation costs, the latter can be ten times cheaper.

 

5. The excessive rise in usage of prescription drugs in developed countries

Seventy percent of North Americans are on at least one prescription drug, while 5% of the world’s total population consumes 95% of the world’s prescription drugs. Lack of cost transparency and inaccurate information can result in unnecessarily costly medical bills.

 

6. Inappropriate usage of specialty drugs

There is a significant premature and overuse of specialty drugs. On an average, there is an annual waste of about $3,000 per patient due to inappropriate and unrequired usage of drugs.

 

7. Increase in cost of health insurance premiums

A recent study by National Group on Health, Washington, showed that there will be about a 6% rise in health insurance premiums in the year 2017. The major contributors to it will be specialty pharmacy (31%), high cost claimants (32%) and specific disease on conditions (17%). There will be an overall inflation of 11%.

 

8. Employers Shifting Costs to Workers

Currently, 36% of employers are considering a shared contribution strategy. About 12% of them have already adopted such strategy and this has helped them save over 4% of their expenditure on healthcare programs.

 

9. Medical cost trends needs to be recalibrated

With an 11.9% growth rate in 2007, the numbers for medical costs have steadily declined from from 6.8% in 2015 to 6.5% in 2017. While 50% is spent on outpatient and inpatient costs, there has been a considerable rise in share of pharmaceuticals from 17% to 20%, this year. Offering high deductible health insurance plans can be a savior for employers, yet a burden on employees if not utilized properly.

 

10. Hospitals demand higher prices

According to KHN, hospitals can directly employ physicians and create large and costly medical systems. Additionally, malpractices of premiums and unnecessary tests can cost employers more than $1,400 per person.
Follow us on Twitter to stay current on the top cost-containment wellness strategies.  To learn more about cessation programs for smoking and their impact on your ROI, check out this link: Corporate smoking cessation programs and ROI.

 

Abena is a Client Services Associate at Optimity. She graduated from the University of Toronto with a BSc in Global Health. She is passionate about human rights and health education, and hopes to develop tailored interventions to combat health inequities around the globe. Her interests include story writing, camping and exploring different cultures on her travels.

 

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Corporate Smoking Cessation Programs and ROI

Corporate Wellness is a $6 billion industry in countries like the US, and there is no doubt that the good health of employees boosts their company’s performance. However, the conventional method of directing the resources exclusively to the unwell doesn’t turn out to be too economical for a company. Each organization must gauge their corporate wellness requirements and choose a tailored wellness program to suit – that is, to gain maximum cost vs. savings benefits, without compromising on the health of the employees.  Corporate wellness programs, if done correctly, actually help in revenue gain in the long run.

smoking cessation-1.jpgTalking about the Return on Investment (ROI), apart from all other wellness programs, Smoking Cessation programs give earnings of about $3.50 for every $1 spent by the company. If we calculate the difference between the cost of average lost work days and expenditure on wellness programs, an overall profit of about 64% is usually recorded and the rate of insurance claims also decline by about 50% every year.

Besides the usual measurement of body mass index, cholesterol, blood pressure and sugar, lifestyle choices such as smoking, alcohol consumption, diet and stress affect the productivity of an employee.  Smoking cessation programs can help a company identify the actual age of an employee who is a regular smoker and then personalize a program for these people.

Corporate Smoking Cessation programs should be designed after a detailed examination of all employees in the corporation, and lifestyle and disease management training should be provided accordingly. An employee who exercises regularly and is fit produces more endorphins, which naturally reduces the stress level. The return for disease management and fitness through corporate wellness program is usually $6, whereas the ROI for lifestyle management is  about $0.5 per person per dollar spent by the company. The profit numbers are drastically increased if there is reduced number of absenteeism and organizational commitment that is fully dedicated to the wellbeing of each employee.

What is really required for an effective corporate smoking cessation and other corporate wellness programs is investment of time and effort. And if we talk about the money, then upon successful implementation of the program, the benefits are generally much higher than the pre-calculated ROI. There is an approximate loss of about 16% in productivity due to ill health every year. Not only can companies make huge savings by reduction on expenditure on health insurance, but a fit employee helps to increase productivity and bring in profits for the company.

 

Follow us on twitter to stay current on the top cost-containment wellness strategies.
For more information on Optimity, evidence-based wellness strategies, or to schedule a demonstration, visit www.myoptimity.com

 

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Trista Chan is a Wellness Strategy Advisor at Optimity.  She leverages her education in nutrition and experience in corpoate health to guide organizations in building healthy, engaged employees.  Her “me-time” activities include yoga, reading health blogs, cooking….did she mention she likes wellness?  Her passion for all things health-related shines through in both her work and personal life.  

 

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Get the Most from Your Corporate HRA Programs

If you need to maximise the ROI from your corporate healthcare program, then it’s wise to adopt a step by step approach. Before anything else, an extensive and complete Health Risk Appraisal/ Assessment of your organization is an absolute must for any such program to be successful.

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 What an HRA must include?

 If you need to maximise the ROI from your corporate healthcare program, then it’s wise to adopt a step by step approach. Before anything else, an extensive and complete Health Risk Appraisal/ Assessment of your organization is an absolute must for any such program to be successful.

What an HRA must include?

Typically a HRA gives you a complete rundown about demographic characteristics, lifestyle information, personal and family medical history, height and weight, body composition analysis and blood pressure, sugar and cholesterol levels of your workforce. Specific and individual chronic conditions need to be elaborative.

 

What you must consider before designing and implementing an HRA program?

An effective HRA is one which maintains ethics, is technically sound and able to provide feedback and give space for follow ups. Providing incentives for participation and healthy mode of administration keeps the enthusiasm and eases the task. In every way, ROIs need to be calculated accurately before designing the final blueprint of the program.

What are the benefits of HRA?

HRAs give you comprehensive information about your workforce’s real age. For example, if your company have 60% of employees as obese and only 5% of are smokers, then fitness and diet programs need to have a larger focus. It also gives indications about what work or psychological conditions may be contributing to the problem.

 

How can HRAs go wrong?

If HRAs are not analysed properly, it can give you low or absolutely no ROI. HRAs can go wrong when you haven’t prepared your questionnaire properly (especially when assessing mental health related problems), by not maintaining ethics and secrecy, by making it a lengthy and time consuming process and by not explaining the process well or being unable to provide immediate, true and technical feedbacks.

 

Why you should create a momentum?

Studies show that 90% of employees say yes to the conduction of HRAs, but only 62% of them actually turn up. Most of them are disinterested and take corporate healthcare programs as an irrelevant process. Unless you are making it compulsory, corporate HRA programs need to be promoted, well explained and encouraged. You must explain how these programs can actually help each individual in maximizing their performance in both the workplace and in their personal life.

 

How you can ease the process of HRAs?

A recent study shows that more than 23% of respondents feel hesitant to open up to a corporate associated healthcare professional. However, if they are provided an online platform, they feel much more comfortable. Online HRA is also faster and the employer gets easy and immediate access to the contents and functionality. The more employees participate in the process, the better your data analysis and hence the more accurate your ROI calculations are.

 

What you must consider before designing and implementing an HRA program?

An effective HRA is one which maintains ethics, is technically sound and able to provide feedback and give space for follow ups. Providing incentives for participation and healthy mode of administration keeps the enthusiasm and eases the task. In every way, ROIs need to be calculated accurately before designing the final blueprint of the program.

 

What are the benefits of HRA?

HRAs give you comprehensive information about your workforce’s real age. For example, if your company have 60% of employees as obese and only 5% of are smokers, then fitness and diet programs need to have a larger focus. It also gives indications about what work or psychological conditions may be contributing to the problem.

 

How can HRAs go wrong?

If HRAs are not analysed properly, it can give you low or absolutely no ROI. HRAs can go wrong when you haven’t prepared your questionnaire properly (especially when assessing mental health related problems), by not maintaining ethics and secrecy, by making it a lengthy and time consuming process and by not explaining the process well or being unable to provide immediate, true and technical feedbacks.

 

Why you should create a momentum?

Studies show that 90% of employees say yes to the conduction of HRAs, but only 62% of them actually turn up. Most of them are disinterested and take corporate healthcare programs as an irrelevant process. Unless you are making it compulsory, corporate HRA programs need to be promoted, well explained and encouraged. You must explain how these programs can actually help each individual in maximizing their performance in both the workplace and in their personal life.

 

How you can ease the process of HRAs?

A recent study shows that more than 23% of respondents feel hesitant to open up to a corporate associated healthcare professional. However, if they are provided an online platform, they feel much more comfortable. Online HRA is also faster and the employer gets easy and immediate access to the contents and functionality. The more employees participate in the process, the better your data analysis and hence the more accurate your ROI calculations are.

 

 

Hilary is a Wellness Advisor at Optimity. She graduated from the University of Guelph with a B.Sc. in Human Kinetics. She aims to empower others to live their healthiest and happiest lives. Her interests are swimming, hiking and hanging out with friends and family. Wellness is a big part of her life and she hopes to make it a part of others.

 

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How Moving Helps You Avoid Downtime and Feeling Exhausted

Do you feel that despite sitting all day, you are left feeling exhausted and tired before the clock strikes 7?  Most of us are guilty of a sedentary lifestyle. A lifestyle where we wake up, drive to work, sit for 8 hours in front of our computer screens, go home and doze off to sleep while watching TV or reading a book.

One might wonder how all the energy burns out without consciously doing any physically challenging activity.  Well apparently, less physical activity is the reason behind being unusually tired and exhausted.  It may sound counter-intuitive, but over the past years, numerous research has proven that physical activity is vital for us to stay healthy. Moving is important to stay active and energetic all day long.

Here are a few reasons why staying active is important:

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Stimulate your mind

Researchers suggest that there are unexpected links between our mental and physical fitness. When we are mentally stressed, we automatically feel dull and exhausted. Taking a break from work and moving around for a bit can help your brain function better. You will be surprised how a few minutes of physical activity like a walk in the park or Yoga can have a positive effect on your mood.

 

Get rid of sleepiness

We all go through that 3 P.M slump every day where no amount of caffeine can help us stay awake. Try switching your coffee with a walk around your office building and you will instantly get an energy boost. Moving around helps take the edge off sleepiness and avoid down time.

 

Give your eyes a break

While we’re hard at work our eyes are constantly glued to our computer screen, which causes eye strain and fatigue. As most of us tend to work for long hours in front of computers, it is bound to result in exhaustion at the end of the day. Moving around gives your eyes some time to relax and help reduce tiredness.

Periodically taking a break from your work and computer screen by being up on your feet has a lot of benefits for our physical as well as mental health.

 

 

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Trista Chan is a Wellness Strategy Advisor at Optimity.  She leverages her education in nutrition and experience in corpoate health to guide organizations in building healthy, engaged employees.  Her “me-time” activities include yoga, reading health blogs, cooking….did she mention she likes wellness?  Her passion for all things health-related shines through in both her work and personal life.  

 

Sign up for Optimity to start leading a healthier life and claiming rewards!

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Optimity and Excellence Canada

Posted by Jane Wang

Optimity is delighted to announce that it is working with Excellence Canada to provide followers of Canada’s Healthy Workplace Month® with first-hand experience using our rewards-based wellness initiative through a free trial.

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Excellence Canada is an independent, not-for-profit corporation that is dedicated to advancing organizational performance across Canada. They provide training, coaching, and tools to implement, validate, and certify organizational excellence.

One of the goals of Canada’s Healthy Workplace Month® is to increase awareness of workplace health in Canada, including fostering healthy lifestyles, supportive workplace culture, mental health, safety, and corporate social responsibility.

A lack of employee well-being can lead to an unmotivated and unwell team, which can have a negative effect on any business. Our mission at Optimity is to help you create healthy habits that will greatly improve your quality of life and reduce stress levels. Our mobile-first wellness program provides personalized coaching that is accessible at the swipe of a finger. It also has a social component that allows your like-minded colleagues to support you every step of the way on your health and wellness journey.

Together with Excellence Canada, Optimity would like to invite you to explore our rewards program initiative by trying a LITE version of our app so that you can see how incorporating more wellness into your day can help you to become healthier and happier.

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By signing up to this free LITE version, you will receive daily office-friendly health activities while you earn points to bid on exciting rewards such as Amazfit bands, VIA Rail vouchers, Starbucks gift cards, and more! You can even sign up your whole department to encourage your colleagues to join in and follow you on your new health journey.

FRENCH version is also available here. Please contact: engage@myoptimity.com for any questions, as we are happy to help support you in wellness.

Sign up here to start leading a healthier life and claiming FREE rewards!

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(Optimity apps are available in English, French and Chinese)

7 Benefits of Technology in Wellness Programs

Posted by Jane Wang

Technology surrounds us in our everyday life – it’s always changing, and workplace wellness is soon to be revolutionized by this. Where programs that are only in-person or web-based with no mobile access, or rely on substandard self-reported tracking methods, will never be able to truly impact the work-life habits of most of their employees.

Employees these days are using smartphones, wearable devices and mobile apps and it’s fair to say that almost every one of those smartphone users has downloaded at least one health or wellness related app, so why not one that has incentives and connects them to their company culture?

Accessibility and personalization is the key to designing a highly engaging program. Technology and daily wellness practices can complement each other greatly. For a workplace wellness program to be successful, and to have a real ROI, it needs to incorporate up-to-date technology. 

With Machine Learning and advance data analytics, a next-generation digital corporate wellness program like Optimity can give ubiquitous support to your people 24 / 7, and also predictively find the high-risk population to preventively give additional support and coaching to help them on their journey.

 

Here are 7 ways that incorporating technology can improve your workplace wellness program.

  1. Increased Productivity

According to a study by Rackspace, The Human Cloud at Work, employees wearing wearables at work became 8.5 percent more productive and 3.5 percent more satisfied with their jobs. Multiple studies have proven that employees who use wearable technology, such as the Apple Watch, Fitbit or Amazfit, are more productive in the workplace and tend to live a healthier lifestyle that has a positive impact on their work life.

  1.  Gathering Data

Data gathered from the wearables mentioned above can help your company fine tune the wellness program that is already in place. Wearables can provide employers with a great amount of data to help evaluate the return on investment of the wellness program. Obviously your employees will need to consent to sharing this information first!

Because the trends for health apps and wearables are a great social wave of self-quantification, having a corporate wellness platform that accepts different wearables and their unique set of data outputs becomes increasingly important. These multiple data sets should be automatically cleaned, standardized, and aggregated so that it is ready for regular strategic analysis in your corporate platform.

Gathering data for the sake of having it isn’t enough. You must add-value to each employee’s wellness experience through insights from their data. Platforms and services like Optimity, help you with exactly that: to analyze wearable data and turn the activitiy statistics into useful insights and recommendations that is helpful for each employee.

  1.   Reduce Sick days

Using these wearable technologies and using wellness apps can help reduce employee sick days, as well as increase work-life balance. Employees can become more aware of their physical activity, sleep patterns and stress levels which, if this aggregated set of data is given to Employers, can help companies to evaluate the health risks to their employees and potentially prevent long term sick leave due to illness.

  1.  Reduced Stress Levels

Technology that helps to support employee’s mental health and physical activity levels can help to decrease employee stress through interactive mind games and get-active programs. There are also additional content categories such as financial wellness and resilience training, taking care of employee life stress holistically. This leads to a more productive employee and a healthier team!

  1.  Supportive Culture

Many companies now leverage wellness platforms, such as Optimity, to also serve as a mobile-first company content hub where news, articles and experiences are shared with employees daily. Since mobile is where most employees are interacting with news forums, it seems habitual for them to also use it for connect to your workplace culture and receive encouragement for healthy living. If all of your employees use the same program or app to track their diet and lifestyle choices, it can create a stronger bond amongs peers. It boosts team morale and assist in motivating less enthusiastic employees to be a part of the company wellness culture.

  1.  Increased Motivation

We are creatures of habit who love to collect things along the way: badges, rewards, achievements. So using wellness apps that is designed with a gamifiedexperience can motivate employees to live a healthier lifestyle. By doing micro-workouts, mind games and healthy eating recipes, they are collecting lots of digital and real-life goodies that give them that dopamine hit for making good choices. Now employees know where to go to get the motivation and formed a habit to track their overall state of health, which increases their sustained ability to continue with your program.

  1.  Company Savings

Encouraging employees to use technology to track their workplace health and fitness can decrease employer healthcare costs, especially in the face of rising premiums. Having a well-run digital program significantly reduces the admin costs that come with in person programs or ad-hoc fragmented initiatives. Optimity offers training sessions and automated programming administered by dedicated client success managers who take care of the customization, coordination, internal marketing and also continuously injects “love” into a successful program. These services save HR managers about 250 hours per year and also achieves on average 10% higher annual participation rate than those ran internally!

The ultimate goal for any employer in implementing a workplace health and wellness plan is to shift the mindset from acute care to preventative care. If employees are focused on their health and take measures to prevent illness or disease, this is a win-win situation for both employees and the employer. Encouraging employees to lead a healthier lifestyle such as incorporating exercise can assist in lowering stress levels, which can ultimately lead to a more productive team.

Want to get started?

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4 Principles for Creating a Wellness Program

Today’s most successful companies know that creating a healthy environment for employees is the most direct way to achieve an increase in productivity and encourage employee loyalty.

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With so much time spent at work, it goes without saying that a healthy work environment is vital to your employee’s health. Creating a successful wellness program can ensure that your employees are happy and healthy, and therefore more productive at work.

The following are 4 principles to consider when looking to implement a successful wellness program for your company.

1)   Educate

The most important factor in moving towards a healthier workplace is educating your employees. Choose an educational approach that encourages open communication between employees and management and ensure that the management team are strong leaders who make their employees feel safe and supported. Consider the group diversity and design activities that cater to all employees. Some employees may have prior knowledge or experience, so ask them to share their ideas with the rest of their peers to help motivate and engage the group.

2) Engage

Engaging employees in a workplace wellness program can be difficult without the correct leadership. Make it known to your employees that you are dedicated to the program by showing your appreciation at every level and ensuring that employees clearly understand expectations by management. Relating the program’s goals to your employee’s personal goals can also help the program succeed, along with a strong social presence.

3) Empower

Shifting authority and responsibility from management to employees gives the employees power over their own jobs and entrusts them to take charge of their own wellness program.  Empower your employees by asking questions and carefully listening to their answers and suggestions. Frustration occurs when employee thoughts and suggestions are not accompanied by an action.

 

4) Evaluate

Evaluating wellness programs is an ongoing process, so obtain statistics wherever possible to create comparisons on how the program is working and what can be improved. Use a range of techniques to get an understanding of how well employees are receiving the program and try to use alternative evaluation methods to suit everyone’s needs.

 

Optimity provides a highly-engaging adaptive coaching program to connect all of your company initiatives and assist with boosting employee engagement. Our App lets you see results and gain insights to make smarter, data-driven decisions. Join the community, sign up here to start leading a healthier life and claiming rewards!

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Trista Chan is a Client Services Associate at Optimity.  She leverages her education in nutrition and experience in corpoate health to guide organizations in building healthy, engaged employees.  Her “me-time” activities include yoga, reading health blogs, cooking….did she mention she likes wellness?  Her passion for all things health-related shines through in both her work and personal life.