Six Reasons Your Company Needs a Corporate Wellness Program Today


What does “wellness”mean to you? It means eating well and being fit to many people, but wellness can mean so much more. It can include other aspects of well-being, such as maintaining or improving mental and emotional health, engaging in other healthy behaviors such as getting enough sleep and managing stress, and taking a long-term approach. 

Wellness can also refer to the absence of disease. Since care for chronic conditions is by far the most expensive component covered by your company’s healthcare plan, that may be the initial attention-grabber as your company considers a corporate wellness program. As you continue to investigate, you are sure to come across many reasons to get a program started. Here are six reasons your company needs a corporate wellness program today.

 

1 . Attract and Keep the Best Talent


Corporate wellness programs may make the difference between being able to hire the candidate you want versus being left with your second or third choice. When two companies offer similar jobs with similar salaries, the savvy recruit will go with the company with better programs, and workplace wellness programs are among the most sought-after perks for serious candidates.

Today’s workforce often looks beyond the dollar signs, and some potential employees may choose a nominally lower-paying job with better perks. Why? Some people want to be happy, healthy, and productive. Also, they may hear by word of mouth how great the company is.

Along with making recruiting easier, offering a corporate wellness program can increase employee retention, which is important for many reasons. High employee turnover has costs almost everywhere you look.

  • Cost of advertising, interviewing, and hiring.

  • Lost productivity during onboarding.

  • Loss in sales or other work while the position remains vacant.

  • Increased stress on other employees during the vacancy and subsequent training period.

  • Increased doubt among employees who wonder why so many of their colleagues are leaving.

  • Reduced sense of commonality and teamwork.

Employees tend to be loyal to and stay with the organization that they perceive takes good care of them, and a corporate wellness program is something that can make them happy.

 

2. Improve Employee Health and Wellbeing


A corporate wellness program can improve employee health and wellbeing. Programs such as Lark that target both physical and mental health can have far-reaching effects. Various Lark coaches can manage chronic conditions to lower the risk for complications, assist with tobacco cessation, and reduce chronic disease risk factors, such as obesity and physical inactivity. Targeted behaviors include eating healthier foods, increasing activity, and, as appropriate, adhering to medications and monitoring blood pressure or blood sugar at home. These simple actions can significantly lower risk for chronic diseases including diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and certain cancers. Self-management behaviors can prevent complications and improve quality of life.

 

3. Increase Productivity


Employees who are healthier and have an increased sense of wellbeing, which can be some of the results of a wellness program, have the ability to perform better. First, workers may miss fewer days of work when chronic conditions are prevented or managed. Lark has coaching for some of the most common chronic and costly conditions that cause absenteeism, including the following [1].

  • Tobacco cessation (smoking causes 0.6 missed work days per employee per year).

  • Weight loss (obesity causes causes 1 missed work day per employee per year).

  • Increasing physical activity (physical inactivity causes 0.6 missed work days per employee per year).

  • Hypertension (causes 1.1 missed work days per employee per year).

  • Diabetes (causes 1 missed work day per employee per year).

Each of these missed days can cost hundreds of dollars, making a low-cost, highly-effective corporate wellness program such as Lark a practical no-brainer. 

Improved health can reduce stress and improve morale, allowing employees to focus on their jobs and increase productivity. They can be more engaged when not focused on health problems, and also feel more dedication to the company that supports their health.

 

4. Cut Healthcare Costs


Do you know how much you may be spending on healthcare for your employees? Do you know how much of that may be completely avoidable? The first value may be shocking, and the second may be embarrassing - or tempting - enough to spur you to action. 

For the first value, care for chronic conditions costs the country about $3 trillion annually. Looking at the second value, what if you were to learn that 80% of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke were not genetic, but linked to preventable causes?

When looking at the amount you may save by adopting corporate wellness programs, take diabetes as an example. Diabetes costs the country over $200 billion annually in medical expenses. It affects 1 in 8 adults, and another 1 in 3 have prediabetes and are likely to develop diabetes. However, a Diabetes Prevention Program such as Lark DPP is based on simple changes that can lower diabetes risk by over 50%, with an estimated per-person 3-year return on investment around $3,000.

Heart disease presents another compelling for a corporate wellness program. While it is the leading cause of death in the U.S., it is also considered highly preventable. In fact, 80% of heart disease - 4 in 5 cases - are linked to lifestyle choices, especially related to weight, diet, physical inactivity, and tobacco use [2]. Modifiable risk factors for heart disease include hypertension, prediabetes, and diabetes. Lark addresses all of these. 

Do the math, weighing the cost of chronic conditions against the cost of prevention and management, and the answer may be clear. Corporate wellness may be too valuable to ignore.

 

5. Increase Health Awareness


The most prevalent, devastating, and expensive chronic conditions in the U.S. are largely preventable through healthy lifestyle choices. A corporate wellness program can raise awareness of this fact. As part of its coaching, Lark, for example, provides education on chronic conditions, wellness, and how users can make choices to promote mental and physical health. 

Lark coaches around healthy behaviors such as:

  • Achieving or maintaining a healthy weight.

  • Increasing physical activity and reducing sedentary time.

  • Improving diet quality.

  • Getting adequate sleep.

  • Managing stress in healthy ways.

  • Quitting smoking or tobacco use.

Additional education to raise health awareness may be on:

  • How to recognize certain conditions and what to do if necessary.

  • Where to go for additional information and support.

  • Self-management of conditions such as diabetes or hypertension.

This increased awareness of why healthy choices are important and how to make them may inspire employees to make lifestyle choices leading to better health. A coach that is available 24/7 without limits, such as Lark, can further enable employees to take charge of their health.

 

6. Make Employees Happy


What makes people happy? Enough money to live on, to be sure, but money is not everything. Aside from strong personal family and/or friend relationships, factors that can contribute to happiness include having physical health and a positive work environment, especially since you may spend nearly half your waking hours at work. Another factor in happiness may be your own ability to manage stress.

A workplace wellness program may address one or many of these factors. Lark provides coaching on behaviors that improve physical health, and also addresses stress management. A corporate wellness program can normalize healthy behaviors, creating a culture of health and even a sense of community at work.

Happy people are more productive. This makes sense intuitively, as you might expect, or know from personal experience, that it is easier to focus and you may be more motivated when you are happy. The link between happiness and productivity has also been proven through science. In one set of experiments, happy participants were 12 percent more productive than those who were not happy [3]. Sad participants, including those who had experienced a negative event in their lives recently, were 10 percent less productive. 

How much is 12% greater productivity worth to you? It is almost certainly less than the cost of a wellness program!

Workplace wellness improves overall employee health, and corporate wellness programs can be investments that provide good returns. Lark is an all-in-one digital platform providing clinically-validated corporate wellness programs in the pocket of your employees. Options include personalized lifestyle coaching options for chronic disease management and chronic disease prevention.

A corporate wellness program is essential for companies who want to offer the best packages. It can improve productivity and reduce costs, but does not need to be hard to design or implement. A health coach such as Lark, offered via smartphone app, can promote wellness with demonstrated results. Companies can expect seamless integration and administration with this non-invasive foundation for a wellness program.

 

Learn More

Name *
Name
Preventing Diabetes is an important long-term goal of my organization
Preventing Diabetes is an important long-term goal of my organization
Answer
Do you currently offer a Diabetes Prevention Program to members?
 

Reference

  1.  Asay GRB, Roy K, Lang J, Payne RL, Howard DH. Absenteeism and employer costs associated with chronic diseases and health risk factors in the US workforce. Prev Chronic Dis. 2016;13:150503. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5888/pcd13.150503

  2.  https://www.who.int/chp/chronic_disease_report/part1/en/index11.html

  3.  Sgroi D. Are happy workers more productive? Global Perspectives Series: Paper 4. Social Market Foundation. October 2015.  http://www.smf.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Social-Market-Foundation-Publication-Briefing-CAGE-4-Are-happy-workers-more-productive-281015.pdf

Natalie Stein

Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Assistant Professor of Public Health

How Healthcare Mobile Apps Can Improve Patient Care

The country is in a healthcare crisis, and mobile technology may be part of the solution. The crisis is the burden of chronic conditions. A report from the Rand Corporation found that 3 in 5 Americans have at least 1 chronic condition, and 2 of 5 Americans have at least two.[1] Chronic conditions cause the majority of mortality and morbidity in the country, and the economic costs are heft, too. Medical care for chronic diseases accounts for 9 of 10 healthcare dollars spent, or nearly $3 trillion annually,[2] and lost productivity costs the economy over $1 billion more each year. However, these devastating health outcomes and overwhelming costs are considered largely preventable, since most chronic conditions can be prevented or managed to reduce their effects.

Currently, healthcare systems tend to treat the sickest few with expensive treatments, while falling short on primary, secondary, and tertiary preventive measures for those with chronic conditions who could benefit. At the same time, there is a shortage in healthcare providers which is expected to grow in coming years[3].

Until recently, all of healthcare took place via face-to-face interactions, such as in hospitals and clinics or in patients’ homes. Natural limitations with this model include cost of healthcare providers and facilities as well as delays when expanding coverage. From the patient’s perspective, problems include delayed care due to shortages in providers, the need to make appointments in advance according to the providers’ schedules, and the need for often-lengthy commutes.

Mobile technology has the potential to transform the healthcare industry. Mobile apps are a branch of mobile health that can potentially complement the role of providers by improving patients’ ability to manage their conditions in an infinitely scalable fashion. The bottom line is that mobile apps can improve health and lower costs, so everyone wins.

 

Use of Mobile Technology in Patient Care


Mobile technology has become nearly ubiquitous in healthcare. Patients, providers, and payers all use mobile technology, often involving mobile phones, computers and tablets, wearable devices, and, in hospitals, radio frequency identification. Doctors may be able to diagnose diseases and monitor patients remotely, access information via the internet from databases and colleagues, communicate with patients using patient care portals, and collaborate with specialists anywhere in the world synchronously or asynchronously. Many patients can email their providers and have access to appointments via telephone or video chat. 

Artificial intelligence (AI), or automatically-generated analysis and conclusions as an approximation of human thought, has been used for decades in healthcare and already has many applications in health technology. In radiology, for example, AI can assist in detecting differences in images that a human eye might miss. It is common in guiding surgeries as well. As part of telehealth, AI may tell providers when a patient may need care based on patient input. Lark AI includes this application, and many others, of AI.

Smartphones can be used for many aspects of health, and healthcare mobile apps are gaining popularity. Patients may text message their providers, or opt to receive text messages from providers or as a part of other programs, as in the well-known Text4Baby program from the Department of Health and Human Services that provides pregnant women and new mothers with health information.[4] Top healthcare mobile apps among providers may improve workflows, coordinate patient care, assist with patient triage, and, together with wearable monitors or sensors, alert hospital staff to urgent patient situations.

Smartphone health applications are available for everything from counting steps and logging meals to managing medications and contacting healthcare providers. Apps are available for tracking health conditions, educating patients, reminding users to drink more water or take medications, and almost anything else. 

Lark is a mobile healthcare application and health coach. Powered by AI, this healthcare app for patients offers unlimited education, goal-setting, and real-time feedback on behaviors related to wellness or chronic disease management. Without live involvement, patients receive coaching on health behaviors such as lifestyle changes and monitoring conditions. Patients can log and track diet, weight, physical activity, medications, and blood pressure (in Lark Hypertenion Care) or blood glucose (in Lark Diabetes Care).

 

Benefits of Healthcare Mobile Apps in Patient Care


Smartphone apps in healthcare can benefit patients, doctors, caregivers, health coaches, and payors. In fact, everyone involved in the system can benefit. Healthcare apps have the potential to improve health outcomes, reduce costs, increase access to healthcare, and save time.

Well-designed and properly used mobile apps in healthcare industry may have the following effects, each presented with an example.

  • Better quality of care. Doctors may use apps that offer quick access to information so they can make a more informed decision about diagnosis or treatment.

  • Fewer mistakes. Mobile healthcare apps may alert providers who are about to prescribe a medication that could interact with a medication that a patient is already on.

  • Increased patient engagement. Healthcare apps for patients may remind patients, via notifications, to take care of their condition, whether the goal is to lose weight, lower blood pressure, or lower risk for diabetes.

  • Improved interaction. An app such as Lark may suggest when, according to AI, patients should contact a provider based on a potentially dangerous blood sugar or blood pressure reading, rather than patients avoiding contacting a provider or contacting providers needlessly.

  • More efficient workflows. Apps can offer care management and billing workflow solutions that are quicker and lower in cost.

  • Personalized approach. Digital technology such as AI can allow mobile healthcare apps to serve many people without losing personalization, and Lark increases personalization the more the patient uses the app.

  • Increased access. Remote patients may be able to attend appointments remotely rather than driving hours to the nearest clinic or hospital.

Together, these effects can lead to lower costs.

 

Most Popular Types of Healthcare Apps


Categories of healthcare apps include wellness apps and chronic disease management apps apps. The most popular types of mobile health applications may reflect the greatest current needs in healthcare.

Types of wellness lifestyle coaching apps are as wide as the term “wellness” is vague. Apps can promote meditation, hydration, physical activity, and healthy eating. Many of the wellness apps are a response to the current obesity crisis. Obesity affects one-third of the adult US population and another third of adults are overweight. At an estimated annual cost of $150 billion, obesity is a risk factor for many of the most common and expensive chronic diseases, including hypertension, stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Diabetes costs the U.S. nearly $300 billion annually and affects 1 in 10 adults.

Wellness apps for weight loss and chronic disease prevention may:

  • Provide education and assist patients in making healthier food choices, losing weight, and increasing physical activity, while offering 24/7 personalized support.

  • Complement efforts and relieve shortages of healthcare providers and wellness coaches.

  • Offer payers seamless deployment and enrollment, scalability, and ease of use.

While wellness is a focus for some, chronic disease management is a necessity for many others. Nearly two-thirds of American adults have at least 1 chronic condition, and 90% of healthcare spending is on chronic conditions. With healthcare providers in short supply and patients receiving the most care when they get to critical situations rather than in preventive cases, chronic disease management apps may have a role. 

Chronic disease management apps may:

  • Support patients in important lifestyle changes that can help manage conditions.

  • Promote monitoring and medication adherence.

  • Facilitate data storage and transmission.

 

Mobile Health Apps Are the Future


Healthcare should continue to adopt technology and use apps such as Lark to allow for the provision of high levels of patient support. Such apps make chronic illnesses prevention easier on a national scale by introducing prevention programs that everyone can enroll in from a smartphone 

When choosing an app for covered populations, decision-makers should dig deeper than reading a list of the advertised features and investigate the app’s quality. Demonstrated results, such as weight loss in a wellness or diabetes prevention app, or blood pressure reduction in a hypertension app, are crucial. Healthcare apps should be fully HIPAA-compliant and backed by experienced experts in health. Finally, if it is to be used in a large population, the app needs to be scalable while continuing to provide personalized care to each patient.

 

Learn More

Name *
Name
Preventing Diabetes is an important long-term goal of my organization
Preventing Diabetes is an important long-term goal of my organization
Answer
Do you currently offer a Diabetes Prevention Program to members?
 

Reference

  1.  Buttorff C, Ruder T, Bauman M. Multiple Chronic Conditions in the United States. Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corp.; 2017. https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/tools/TL200/TL221/RAND_TL221.pdf.

  2.  National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Health and Economic Costs of Chronic Diseases. https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/about/costs/index.htm. Reviewed February 2, 2017. Accessed February 4, 2019.

  3.  IHS Markit Ltd. The Complexities of Physician Supply and Demand: Projections from 2016 to 2030. Association of American Medical Colleges. March 2018. https://aamc-black.global.ssl.fastly.net/production/media/filer_public/85/d7/85d7b689-f417-4ef0-97fb-ecc129836829/aamc_2018_workforc+e_projections_update_april_11_2018.pdf

  4.  https://www.text4baby.org/

Natalie Stein

Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Assistant Professor of Public Health