Traditional wellness programs – focused mainly on physical health and fitness – are very popular and here to stay. But a shift is underway toward new approaches and initiatives that are intended to have a direct impact on health outcomes and costs.
Several factors are driving an expansion of what wellness can be for employee health and well-being efforts:
A recent independent evaluation of MIIA’s wellness programs found that the most effective programs were those that had strong support from the top levels of management within an organization. MIIA’s programs were generally found to be successful at improving overall employee morale and productivity, while reducing turnover and lost time.
These benefits can be quite significant for any employer, but the study was not able to identify a clear connection between MIIA’s wellness activities and an improvement in health outcomes or a reduction in health care costs.
Expanding definition of wellness
MIIA’s wellness programs are now moving beyond a focus on physical fitness, weight loss and nutrition to a focus on creating better outcomes for medical care, increasing employee education regarding the health care system, and creating better financial value for employees, retirees, and municipal employers.
MIIA will be keeping a majority of its traditional and popular wellness programs, while working to redefine and expand the focus of wellness offerings to include programs that more directly impact medical outcomes for employees and retirees as well as the cost of claims. As part of this effort, MIIA has increased its investment in wellness programming and has added staff.
The following are some examples of MIIA initiatives and approaches that can provide employees with relevant and actionable information – data and analytics that can be used to refine programs and mitigate health care costs:
MIIA is partnering with Integrated Mechanical Care to offer clinical services based on a multidisciplinary team approach for most musculoskeletal solutions. The goal is to reduce the prevalence and cost of musculoskeletal conditions. For every 300 musculoskeletal disorder cases, MIIA anticipates a 25 percent savings over traditional treatments.
Wellness is fundamental
Employers will continue to invest in well-being programs because they can improve the lives of employees and their families, support a positive workplace culture, and enhance productivity and loyalty.
But new and evolving wellness programs hold the promise of truly engaging employees to actively manage their own health, and they provide data and analytics that can lead to better program development and measurement, and, in the long-term, help to mitigate rising health care costs.