Using technology and web-based tools allows employees to be more engaged and proactive in their wellness programs, leading to lower health risks.
That's according to a new study, "The Association of Technology in a Workplace Wellness Program with Health Risk Factor Reduction."
Dr. Ronald Loeppke, president and vice chairman of U.S. Preventive Medicine and lead author of the study, said wellness programs are increasingy important because the "current sick care model in the U.S. is not designed to meet real health and wellness needs."
Worse yet, "employers fund the majority of the economic burden of this broken system. They pay increasing costs of medical care while the health care system spends less than $.05 of every health care dollar on prevention,” he said.
To create major changes in health behaviors throughout an organization, companies need to adopt a widespread, multilayered approach to maintain interest and encourage engagement in wellness, the study said.
Among 15 employer groups studied, 7,804 employees participated in health risk appraisals and laboratory testing to create a baseline and followed up after two years of engaging in their personalized prevention plan.
The result? Forty-six percent of participants who had been in the high-risk category at baseline dropped to medium risk, while 19 percent fell to low risk.
According to a previous study, even one year on a prevention plan can lead to health risk reductions. The new study’s two-year analysis finds that high-risk participants fell from 11 percent to 6 percent, while medium-risk participants declined from 29 percent to 23 percent. Low-risk participants rose from 60 percent to 71 percent.
“The study yields more evidence for the business case for employers that prevention is an investment to be leveraged rather than a cost to be justified,” Loeppke said.