BELLEVUE, WA--(Marketwire - Jul 19, 2012) - Hospital employees spend 10% more on healthcare, consume more medical services, and are generally sicker than the rest of the U.S. workforce, according to a recent Thomson Reuters study. Assessing these results, Limeade CEO Henry Albrecht stated, "These results suggest that the pressure and stress of care-giving is taking a toll. However the healthiest hospitals are seeing a different trend -- healthier employees and lower healthcare costs." Limeade is a leading enterprise health, wellness, and performance engagement platform.
The Thomson Reuters study reveals that hospital employees see their doctors less often and are 22% more likely to visit an emergency room. The study, which was conducted by Thomson Reuters Healthcare, analyzed the health risk and utilization of 1.1 million hospital workers and compared them with 17.8 million health plan members across all industries around the country. The study did not include causes for these results.
"The average 2011 premium for employer-sponsored health insurance topped $5,000 for single coverage and $15,000 for family coverage, according to the 2011 annual Employer Health Benefits Survey conducted by Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research & Educational Trust. With healthcare costs growing nearly 10% per year, just holding healthcare costs flat for one year for a 10,000-employee hospital can create $10 million in annual cost savings. This amounts to a savings annuity if organizations can create and sustain changes that decrease healthcare costs," stated Henry.
Limeade identifies six actions America's healthiest hospitals are taking to help their employees become healthier and win the war on rising healthcare costs -- and transform their employees into models of good self-care for their communities.
CEO Support -- America's healthiest hospitals understand the importance of demonstrating their commitment to wellness from the CEO on down. For example, the CEO of one of the nation's leading Children's Hospital hosts a weekly challenge for employees to join him for a walk around the neighboring zoo. A CEO's visible support of well-being has far ranging positive impacts on the organization.
Smart Communications -- Those healthcare providers obtaining meaningful results -- high levels of ongoing engagement and flat to shrinking healthcare costs -- are smart communicators. They're sharing the importance of wellness using all the communications vehicles at their disposal, including social media tools such as Twitter and blogs, mobile devices, and videos. They're also involving all stakeholders -- including nurses, janitorial staff, physicians, and union leaders, where applicable. And, they're showcasing employee successes -- wins are contagious! -- to further inspire employees to continue working to achieve their wellness goals.
Walking the Talk -- The healthiest hospitals demonstrate their commitment to wellness with actions that incentivize healthy behaviors -- such as discounts on healthy meals and visits to doctors who are up-to-speed on their own preventive care -- and discourage unhealthy ones -- such as higher prices on sugary drinks. Their cafeterias and vending machines are stocked with healthy, nutritious offerings that send a clear message about healthful eating and their organization's commitment to helping them achieve their health and wellness goals.
Fit in Fitness -- There are a variety of ways America's healthiest organizations are helping their employees fit in fitness. One is using walking meetings. Group Health Cooperative encourages walking meetings through its Total Health wellness program. Walking meetings provide a change of scenery, a shift in energy, some fresh air, and they burn a few calories. Some hospitals have eliminated obstacles to utilizing staircases, repainting and improving lighting in stairwells to make them more inviting. In addition, activity trackers, such as Fitbit®, RunKeeper, and Nike+ products, are helping employees fit fitness into their daily life by giving them instant feedback on their steps, miles, stairs climbed, and calories burned. The ability to measure results enables a little friendly competition, which has been shown to be a behaviorally sound means of boosting desired behaviors.
Reward What Matters -- World-class organizations know what they want to achieve and what they need to do to achieve it. They tie their goals to their resources and they reward employees for taking actions in support of those goals, whether they're outcomes-based (e.g., reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, or BMI) or task-based (e.g., complete a well-being assessment, biometric screening, preventive exam, or exercise regimen). Employees are incentivized by instant feedback and rewarded with points that can be traded for whatever matters most to them, from technology gadgets and gift certificates to wellness days off and insurance premium discounts.
Tie it to the Mission -- Every organization has a mission. Smart organizations link their wellness program to that mission to achieve goals well beyond creating a culture of health. At Swedish Medical Center, for instance, the leaders encourage employees to give themselves the same quality of care they give their community. Healthcare providers that link their wellness program to their mission, culture, and "vibe" experience higher levels of ongoing participation because the program is experienced by employees as connected with the organization.
"The healthcare industry is evolving. President Obama's Affordable Healthcare Act will introduce new changes. In the face of all this change, the healthiest hospitals are focused on creating a workforce that's a model of preventive care and efficient use of resources," concluded Henry.
Limeade is an enterprise wellness platform that builds happy, healthy, high-performance workforces. Limeade provides a refreshing alternative to traditional, antagonistic wellness approaches, and connects all wellness programs in an integrated, cohesive user experience. Limeade clients include Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For, healthcare providers, and large, high-performance employers. Additional information about Limeade may be found at www.limeade.com.