Health Affairs is the leading peer-reviewed journal addressing health, health policy and health care - including cost, quality and access. Since the early 1980s, health research published in the journal has been used to shape policy nationally. To my fellow health wonks and I, Health Affairs is a must read. I am proud that Sedgwick sponsored the February 2017 issue of Health Affairs. This special issue is meaningful to Sedgwick and our clients, as it is dedicated to shedding light on The Work/Health Relationship.
As Health Affairs wrote in their February 7 blog, “Work conditions can affect employees’ physical and mental health, and worker productivity can be affected by the demands employees face after returning home from the office.” The collection of papers included in the issue explores the evolving and complex relationship between employers and employee health and specifically the impact of health on work. During the February 7, 2017 briefing at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., it was refreshing to hear researchers share their interests and insights into health, absence and workplace accommodations - all subjects deeply important to today’s business.
Some of the findings mirror issues we identified in our Insights for 2017 blog:
- Employers are offering expansive benefit solutions. Health and benefit managers understand the link between member/patient experience and engagement in health. This issue advances thinking around the impact of health on work and importance of a productive, functional life at work and home as part of healing and general health. Jean Abraham, Wegmiller Professor in the Division of Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota presented her paper “Tracking The Changing Landscape of Corporate Wellness Companies.” It describes the business case for wellness and how improvements in worker productivity and engagement translates to business performance.
- Ron Z. Goetzel, vice president of health and productivity research at Truven Health Analytics, senior scientist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Chris Calitz, director of the Center for Workplace Health Research and Evaluation at the American Heart Association, provide a fascinating look at workplace programs, policies and environmental supports to prevent cardiovascular disease. Their research relates efforts to address comprehensive cardiovascular health risks with disease prevalence and medical expenditures.
- An intriguing study by Robert K. McLellan, section chief of the Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and professor of medicine at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, analyzes “Work, Health, and Worker Well-being: Roles and Opportunities for Employers.” The research appropriately acknowledges occupational hazards while addressing the costs of poor workforce health are collectively shared across workers and business. A road map to work, health and well-being is included in the paper.
The depth of the papers is impressive and the topics cross a broad spectrum including the relationship between work and health, wellness programs, worker productivity, workers’ use of health services, work effects on health, job retention and health, insurance and ACA. The February issue of Health Affairs, The Work/Health Relationship, challenges us to think beyond work, productivity and health in silos and begin to evolve our thinking around integration of work and health and ultimately their impact on business performance. I encourage you to learn more about the February issue and Health Affairs at www.healthaffairs.org.
Next Wednesday, February 22, 2017, a similar issue briefing will take place in San Francisco. Those interested in attending in person or via webcast can register here.
Thank you, Sedgwick, for supporting The Work/Health Relationship issue alongside our co-sponsors, Integrated Benefits Institute and UnitedHealth Group.
Kimberly George, SVP, Corporate Development, M&A, and Healthcare