Health Management Programs: Three Ways to Increase Participation

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Brian Kost

Many employers struggle with educating employees about the array of health management programs in their benefits package. In many cases, employees either don’t know about the programs, such as health coaching, employee assistance and disease management programs, or feel uncomfortable using them. It’s in an employer’s best interest to encourage participation, as it can help decrease costs that result from employee illness and disability.

Your disability insurance provider is in a unique position to guide employees through the maze of health management program offerings. Consultants from the Workplace Possibilities program regularly help employees coping with illness, or working through a disability, return to or stay at work. Connecting your health management and disability programs can put the focus on prevention and increase employee participation. Following are some things to consider when making the leap.

Elevate the Value of Your Health Management Programs

Do you want better utilization of your health management programs but are left scratching your head when few employees use them?Frequency is your friend. Periodic health fairs, free webinars and lunch-and-learn sessions hosted by your health benefit partners can help communicate available benefits and how employees can take advantage of them.

Mitigate Privacy Concerns

Some employees fear that participating in an employer-sponsored health management program will raise a red flag with human resources on a condition they’re working through and will result in their demotion or termination. A consultant from your disability insurance provider can provide support and refer employees to appropriate programs. This can alleviate worries and increase participation.

Integrate Your Providers

Connecting your health management and absence management programs is an integral piece in the employee participation puzzle. If your providers are familiar with what the other offers, they will be better able to identify programs that can help employees get healthy and be more productive.

For example, a young employee in a rural area was referred to Workplace Possibilities due to his weight and a cardiac condition that resulted in frequent absences. One of our consultants helped the employee enroll in a weightloss program. Because of our relationship with the employer’s health care provider, we also were able to refer him to a disease management program. Through his participation in the disease management program, it was discovered that he wasn’t seeing the correct specialist for his heart condition. He changed doctors, received the correct care and lost more than 80 pounds. He remained at work and is now healthier and more productive.

Providing a different chair to an obese employee through your disability program could make him or her more comfortable, but at the end of the day, he or she is still obese. Extending the reach of your disability program by integrating it with your health care provider’s health management programs can improve outcomes, increase employee productivity and reduce health care costs.