As all PEO companies can tell you, chronic diseases among your employees can cost your business a lot of money in terms of health care. These expenses can be further compounded by non-adherence to treatment guidelines, which can lead to a deterioration in workers' conditions and require more extensive care. Your best bet in staying on top of these costs is to make sure that your workers are managing their conditions as best as they can.
Among the most common and expensive illnesses is diabetes. According to an article published by Workforce magazine, employers across the U.S. are turning to innovative strategies to help their workers manage the disease.
What is the burden of diabetes?
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 9.3 percent of individuals in the U.S. are living with diabetes, totaling 29.1 million people. That includes 8.1 million people who haven't even been diagnosed yet. If not controlled properly, diabetes can lead to several serious health complications, including heart disease, kidney failure, blindness and limb amputations.
Employers across the U.S. know how expensive diabetes is. According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes cost the nation $245 billion in 2012 alone, including $69 billion in lost productivity. This underscores the importance of effective disease management.
Bring help onsite
Many employers have explored onsite disease management and education for diabetic workers. However, there's been anecdotal trouble with lack of employee engagement, suggesting that new strategies are needed. Laurel Pickering, executive director of the Northeast Business Group on Health, told Workforce that employers can leverage their programs with technology. An example of such a step is using smartphones to send employees personal messages and allow them to track diet, activity and glucose levels.
Jennie Pao, manager of health care planning at Pitney Bowes, told the news source that making care more personal can also improve engagement.
"The health care system and employers both recognize that the most effective programs are face to face, which is why we encourage this care happening in the physician's office," said Pao, quoted by Workforce. "But employers are also bringing physicians, nurses and diabetes care managers on-site. There's quite a bit happening now around reimbursing providers to manage people with chronic disease. We're moving from fee-for-service to fee-for-value. We recommend exploring new payment models so that the physician is thinking about how the patient is doing after they leave the office."
Data from the Northeast Business Group on Health, cited by Workforce, estimated that for every $1 companies invest in diabetes management, there is a $4 return.