Gaps in Care

It’s the beginning of a new year and you and your Wellness Committee have strategized your company’s health improvement plan. You are feeling confident that you will address the main health risks in your employee demographics. Of course, we know it is impossible to hit all the topics needed within a wellness program, but are you covering some topics that could be very detrimental to their health and your claims? I am referring to gaps in care for preventative, age appropriate, screenings such as mammograms, colonoscopies, PSA screenings, skin cancer screenings, dental and vision exams.

Some employers have gone above and beyond to address this situation, such as giving employees a chance to “call in well”.  This program gave the employee 4 hours PTO to use for a preventative visit (with verification required).  Another program would incentivize the employee with points or gift cards when they show proof of screenings and immunizations completed.

As the workforce is showing a significant number of older workers, are they being proactive about their health? One of the best programs that I ran across in my years in workplace wellness was at a local school system. They started a “Mention Prevention” Campaign and reminded the employees about the services available to them for free and celebrated success stories. Not only did they post the educational materials on their intranet, they send out postcards with the information. They had pictures of breast cancer survivors holding a very large number, that number represented the number of years they have been a survivor and told their story of early detection and the importance of screenings. They invested in posters and worked with their carrier to make it easy for the employees to find what screenings they should be doing and what was covered and the in-network providers.

To give another example of closing the gap on prevention, I was at a client’s biometric event. After a few years of the biometric screenings they decided, because they had an older workforce population, to offer PSA screenings and thyroid screenings to employees over 50. (This is an option with most on-site biometrics vendors.) The next year a gentleman came up to us and thanked us. He said he was 57 and never went to the doctor because he thought he was healthy. Last year at the biometrics event he took advantage of the free PSA screenings and the results showed an elevated PSA. He followed up with a doctor and was told he had early stage prostate cancer. It was caught it in time to be treatable and he was grateful to his employer for offering this service.

It is stories like these that make employee wellness such an important part of today’s workplace culture.

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New Year, New Logo

I know what you are thinking; we don’t need a new logo. Our company has had the same logo for generations and we have built a reputation around it and our customers relate to our logo. And yes you would be correct, but that is not the logo I was referring to in the title. I was referring to a branded logo for your wellness program.

Related imageImagine if you had a Wellness Logo that your employees could identify with and know that your company is committed to their health improvement. A logo that shows what you are trying to accomplish through the wellness program and to create a sustainable culture of healthy lifestyles and healthy employees. The employees will relate more to future communications branded with the logo and it will help distinguish your wellness program communications from the multiple emails and flyers they receive regarding benefit, compliance, payroll, etc.

To take it one step further, you can order branded merchandise that the employees can use on a daily basis and as an additional benefit this will add exposure to your wellness program. Examples of these branded items could be shirts, hats, water bottles, lunch bags, resistance bands, etc. You can either distribute these items to each employee, give to employees when they participate in an activity, or use as prizes for wellness champs. The more they see the wellness logo, the more they will accept the new healthy culture that you are working towards.

Your logo should represent your goals for your company and for your employee wellness program. Putting a jpeg of an apple with your company name is not an effective wellness logo but a car dealership that uses “Driving to good health” would be a good example. If you need assistance with designing or ideas, please feel free to contact me at tblocker@w3ins.com.

Happy New Year and happy new logo!

Lighten Up Your Holiday Office Party

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With the holiday season approaching, you and your employees are probably going to consume extra calories, fat grams, and alcohol that your body doesn’t need or want. Many catered dishes served at Holiday Office Parties are loaded with fat, sodium, and preservatives that can add weight on quickly. Since you strive for a healthier employee population ten months of the year don’t give in to unhealthy options now.

Start new healthy holiday traditions for your office:

  1. If you want to take your employees out for a holiday dinner celebration, look for healthy restaurants that specialize in organic cooking or ask for a limited menu with healthy options. You can limit the alcohol consumption by giving limited drink tickets instead of an open bar.
  1. If you are planning the party during office hours, host a “Healthy Holidays” Pot-Luck instead. The employees can bring in healthy dishes along with their recipes to share. A prize incentive for the healthiest dish can always add a little competition.
  1. Instead of a formal party, host an event that involves more activity and less consumption of fatting foods and alcohol. Activities such as a team bowling night at a local bowling alley, or a family picnic with fun tailgating-like events (lawn darts, corn hole game, bocce ball, Cam Jam Frisbee game, scavenger hunt), or plan a coed kick ball tournament where all the teams dress festive for the event.
  1. In lieu of the traditional office Christmas party, plan a “Give Back to the Community” day and teams of employees can volunteer. Have healthy snacks for their breaks and celebrate their accomplishments. There are website that will help you locate corporate volunteer opportunities: Points of Light or Habitat for Humanity.

These options will help make wellness part of the culture twelve months a year.  On behalf of W3 Insurance, we hope you and your employees have a safe and happy holiday season. If you need assistance with ideas for a healthy holiday planning, please feel free to contact me at tblocker@w3ins.com.

Help your employees manage their holiday stress, Promote your EAP!

With the stress of the holidays, your employees may need some assistance with a variety of life challenges. This is a good time to promote your company’s Employee Assistance Program and let the employees know that they have an employer that cares for them. Most EAPs are designed to help with many facets of stress management, including mental health, substance abuse, work-life balance, marriage, family and relationship issues, and legal or financial concerns.

The services through your company’s EAP are confidential and the employees can access them in the comfort of their own home through a website or a phone call. It is a win, win for everyone. Once the employee reaches out for help managing their concerns it will mean they are not missing time away from work, their productivity will not decline due to stress, the chance of a possible workplace accident due lack of concentration will decrease, and the employee will be more likely to stay with your company and therefore decreasing turnover rates.

Since we can all agree that this service is vitally important to the health of your business, the next phase is to plan your marketing campaign. A multi-media approach is the best strategy which entails digital, print, and personal promotion. The personal promotion from a manager or fellow coworker, also known as word-of-mouth advertising, is the best promotion because they can explain the concept and handle the concerns and questions about the EAP’s offerings. I have listed several promotional examples below:


Digital

Print Personal Promotion

Email

Posters/flyers Promote at staff meetings, have managers promoting within their own departments.
Intranet promotion Table tents in breakrooms

Be aware of any changes in behavior in your employees and remind them of the services available.

Employee facebook page Payroll stuffers

Health Fairs- invite EAP representative

Webinars

Wallet cards

Share success stories
(Confidentially of course)

 

presentsAfter reviewing several studies of EAP utilization, statistics have shown that a very small percentage of employees and families are using this service. With education about EAPs and proper promotion you can increase awareness of the offerings and decrease the skeptic’s concerns about confidentiality and stigmas associated with mental health.

 
Let’s plan to make this a stress free holiday for your employees and your workplace. If you need assistance with your EAP promotion, please feel free to contact me, tblocker@w3ins.com. If your company does not offer an EAP your WWW representative can obtain plan details and cost for your review.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

ribbonThis is the month you start to see a lot of pink; pink shoes, pink ribbons, pink hats and shirts with pink ribbons embossed into the fabric. No matter how commercialized the message has become please use these subtle reminders as inspiration.  Be inspired to spread the message of breast cancer awareness and early prevention within your organization. There are many ways you can promote and incentivize these cancer screenings.

Promote prevention:

  • Encourage employees to wear pink for awareness. Have a competition for the best pink outfit.
  • Have pink promotional materials available for the employees to wear- pink boas, ribbons, bracelets, shirts, hats, ties, etc.
  • Offer PTO for doctor’s appointments or screenings.
  • Celebrate survivors and their stories.
  • Host a lunch and learn about breast cancer detection, screenings, prevention, and advocacy.
  • Educate your employees on the participating providers and facilities in their area where they can go for well women exams, mammograms, ultrasounds, etc.
  • Distribute educational materials about self-exams and age appropriate screenings.
  • Incentivize employees for completing an age appropriate screening.
  • Post a link to a CDC podcast on your intranet about Breast Cancer.

Another factor that could affect your employees is the stress, either the stress of being a cancer patient or the stress of caring for a family member that is a cancer patient. These employees may benefit from resources that they do not know about.

Promote support and comfort:

  • Promote your EAP.
  • Find services that can assist with them; for example carrier resources, community resources, or advocacy groups.
  • American Cancer Society’s Reach to Recover program helps people and caregivers cope with a breast cancer diagnosis.
  • Offer a quiet room for them to go during breaks or lunches.

Many workplace toolkits that can assist with promotion and education are available through your carrier, Susan G Komen workplace website, CDC resources, and American Cancer Society. If you need further assistance with a cancer prevention program, please contact me at tblocker@w3ins.com.

Make it your business to fight the flu!

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Even the healthiest person can get the flu. The best defense against your employees getting the flu is to promote flu vaccines.  One outbreak in your office can spread quickly causing a disruption to your business. The good news about the ACA is that insurance carriers will cover this vaccine as a preventive service. In accordance with the contractual obligations, employees need to go to a participating retail location for this to be processed correctly. The participating retail locations are listed on the carrier websites under Participating Pharmacy/vaccines.

Whether you schedule an on-site flu vaccine clinic or promote locations for the employees to get the vaccine, now is a good time to start planning. If you are not sure if your group qualifies for an on-site clinic or if you need assistance with promotional materials please contact me and I will be happy to assist you.

flu2Marketing is the next important piece to a successful flu vaccine season. The more forms of promotion that you utilize, the better participation you will get.  Suggestions include: texts, e-cards, flyers, stickers, table tents, posters, and even social media (facebook, twitter, linkedin). The CDC even has a twitter and you can follow them at @FluGov for the latest information about the flu.

How Healthy Employees Save You Money

America is one of the most obese countries in the world. As a result, many Americans suffer from chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. On average, two-thirds of all US medical spending goes toward combatting the complications associated with these two ailments. The majority of these expenses are related to health problems resulting from unhealthy, sedentary lifestyles that compound existing issues. For example, lack of exercise and poor diet exacerbates existing health issues and leads to employees visiting the doctor’s office rather than their workplace. To mitigate the prevalence of health problems and rising medical costs, employers offer workplace wellness programs.

What are workplace wellness programs?

Workplace wellness programs range from healthy lunch and snack options in the office break room to on-site fitness centers. The aim of wellness programs is to improve the health and well-being of employees, increase their productivity, reduce their risk of costly chronic disease, and improve control of chronic conditions. These programs consist of two components: a lifestyle management program and a disease management program. Lifestyle management programs promote the idea of health promotion, which according to the World Health Organization is the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health. The other aspect, disease management, represents a coordinated effort to help employees with an existing chronic disease to take better care of themselves to avoid serious complications associated with their disease. Workplace wellness programs have grown in popularity and now represent a $6 billion a year industry in the USA.

What saves employers money?

According to a study conducted by the Rand Corporation, the workplace wellness program itself reduces health care expenses for the employer by about $30 per member per month (PMPM). In layman’s terms, a company can save a boat load of money if they pay attention to the health needs of their employees. Of the two components, the disease management program generates the most savings PMPM because the measures implemented in this component cut the number and length of expensive hospital stays as a result of chronic disease. On the other hand, lifestyle management programs do not offer massive savings PMPM; however, one must not forget about their importance in contributing to healthy lifestyles. More employees partake in the lifestyle management programs than disease management programs and participation in lifestyle management increases productivity and reduces absenteeism, two metrics that contribute to elevated company revenues.

Benefits of workplace wellness programs.

Workplace wellness programs benefit both the employer and the employee. For the employer, these programs allow them to save money on health care costs. While statistically disease management programs ultimately save the employer more money than lifestyle management programs, there are significant benefits to both. The benefits of disease management programs are realized in a shorter term because they combat imminent health care costs. Lifestyle management programs’ benefits are more of a long-term benefit because they contribute to prevention of chronic disease down the road. Employers need to have clear-cut goals for their workplace wellness program that focus not only on disease management to mitigate health care costs but also on lifestyle management so that the people that they employ can enjoy a better quality of life that translates into increased productivity. Workplace wellness is a win for everyone involved!

May is Melanoma Awareness Month

May is Melanoma Awareness Month

May is Melanoma Awareness Month

How can one mole affect your employee population? According to the American Academy of Dermatologists, approximately one in every five Americans will develop some type of skin cancer throughout their life. That relates to almost 20% of your employees, spouses, or their dependents. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States.  These statistics show how an untreated mole could affect your insurance claims, employee productivity, time off work, and increased stress to your employees.

As an employer, you can be proactive instead of reactive. Reach out to me, Trish Blocker, or W3 representative to request educational information from your insurance carrier to present to your employees.

Awareness is vital to prevention. Contact a local dermatologist to schedule on-site skin cancer screenings. Many dermatology offices will not charge for this service as this is also a marketing opportunity for them. It is important to make sure that the office accepts your insurance plan in case employees need to schedule follow-up appointments. If you need assistance with coordinating skin screenings, please contact me and I would be to assist you.

If you have employees that work outside in the elements, provide them with the proper protection from the sun’s rays. For example, wide brim hats instead of baseball caps, long sleeve shirts with UV protection instead of short sleeve tee-shirts, sunglasses with UV protection, and access to sunscreen. Post flyers or reminders about sun protection in company vehicles and break rooms to communicate that this is a top priority for your company and part of your company culture going forward.

If you have any questions about starting a skin cancer prevention campaign in your workplace, please contact me. It is important to tailor these types of programs to fit with your employee population and to reinforce the importance of this topic. Consistency with these programs will begin the culture shift to a safer and healthier workplace.

Trish Blocker | W3 Wellness Coordinator

tblocker@w3ins.com | 727-522-7777 ext 173

Telemedicine and How it Will Change Your Claims

Telemedicine and Technology

Could a phone call change your claims?

Telemedicine is the next buzz word in the health care industry. What is Telemedicine you ask? It is a new service that carriers are offering that offers clinical health care via telecommunications. Mobile phones and computers can now help with simple medical services. More and more insurance carriers are offering this service to their members hoping to reduce the number of visits to the ER, Urgent Care Clinics, and some PCP visits. Although this service will not replace these types of visits, it is a great option for minor complaints such as cold, flu, allergies, ear infection, skin irritations, etc.

Picture this, you daughter comes home from school with a rash and slight fever. It is now 4:30 in the afternoon and you don’t want to wait until tomorrow to see the pediatrician so you set up a virtual visit with the Telemedicine vendor offered through your insurance plan. It requires you to register your insurance information, pharmacy information, symptoms, and the best time for a call back. These visits can be done on your phone or device through an app, or virtually on your computer. If the physician feels that a prescription is needed they will send the information to the pharmacy of your choice. Now, wasn’t that easier than going to the pediatrician’s office and taking time off work? The copay for virtual visits varies depending on the carrier and the plan, but the majority of copays are in the $40 range.

Currently telemedicine is a growing industry. I am hearing utilization rates of only 1.5-3.5% but this can increase with promotion. The major players in this industry are Teladoc, Doctor on Demand, and MDLive. Not sure if your carrier offers this service? Please contact me for more details and I will be happy to assist you.

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Do Activity Trackers Belong in Your Wellness Program?

Activity Trackers

Are activity trackers a step in the right direction?

Employers want healthier employees and some are willing to put money on it. Employers are buying, or subsidizing, activity trackers for their employees. This trend is showing momentum, but is it making an impact?

Of the many wellness articles on this subject, many companies are happy with their decision to provide fitness trackers to their employees. Some employers use it as tool for employees to take responsibility for their health and this is an avenue to assist them, while others use it for tracking and “friendly” competitions throughout the workplace. The end result is more active employees. For example the wellness vendor, beBetter, states that only 20% of their business uses some type of device or activity tracker. This number jumps to an 80% participation rate if the employer subsidizes the cost of an activity tracker.

A study done by the American College of Sports Medicine shows people who wore Fitness Trackers spent less time sitting, more time being active, and lost more weight. One of the many benefits of the devices is the social aspects which help motivate employees. Most devices allow the user to start or join competitions with coworkers and friends. This type of communication and reminders are great motivational tools that can spark more physical activity.

Fitbit seems to have the market on corporate wellness, but there are other products hitting the market. Here is an article from Wearable listing the best fitness trackers in 2016. They offer a quick review along with price points. The cost to implement is anywhere from $60 to $120 per employee, depending on the device.

When there are so many benefits to a healthy workplace, allocating money to a well-rounded wellness plan pays off in more way than one. Happy and healthy employees are more productive, engaged and may reduce your employee benefits costs in the long run. Please contact Trish Blocker, W3’s On-Site Wellness Coordinator, if you have any questions about instituting activity trackers into your wellness programs.