Hospital employees less healthy than other workers

Good thing they already spend most of their time in the hospital: Health care spending is 9 percent higher for hospital employees than the general employee population, according to study results released today by Truven Health Analytics.

That’s because hospital employees are more likely to be diagnosed with asthma, obesity and depression, and those with chronic conditions are more likely to be in the “at risk” or “struggling” categories, researchers found. Hospital workers and their dependents also are 5 percent more likely to be hospitalized than the overall U.S. workforce.

The study also found that health benefits costs consume 4 percent of hospital operating revenue. For the average medium-size community hospital, health care benefits for employees and their families consumed 68 percent of operating profit, or all operating profit generated from Jan. 1 until the end of August each year.

“Hospitals and health systems have a compelling opportunity to improve the health of their workforce,” said Michael Taylor, vice president and national business medical leader for Truven Health Analytics and co-author of the paper. “In doing so, they will strengthen their business performance and set the standard for the broader community.”

The study analyzed the health risk and health care utilization of 740,000 hospital workers and their dependents and compared them with 25 million employees and their dependents across industries for 2010. It found that a hospital or health system with 16,000 employees stands to save an estimated $1.59 million annually in medical and pharmacy costs for each 1 percent reduction in health risk.

The report also suggested best practices for developing a “culture of health and reducing health risk” in hospital settings.

Those include: analyzing the health risk of the specific population; defining clear goals and quality objectives; getting buy-in from senior management; establishing a measurement strategy; and measuring progress while adjusting programs accordingly.

“The current approach of paying for volume of services delivered, not health outcomes, is unsustainable,” says William Bithoney, national business medical leader at Truven Health Analytics and co-author of the paper. “New models of care, such as accountable care organizations, are designed to improve the health of entire populations rather than care only for sick patients who come through the doors of a facility. These models offer both a tremendous challenge and opportunity for hospitals and health systems.”


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