Improving Employee Health While Reducing Costs

Armen Hareyan's picture
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It is a true win-win situation. Crown Equipment Corporation has implemented a program to improve the health and productivity of its workforce. In just four years, its HealthWise Program has generated significant positive results. Today, more than one-half of Crown's workforce falls into the low health risk category - an improvement of 12 percent. Trends also indicate a significant reduction in the health care costs for employees who consistently participate in the HealthWise Program.

Crown Corporate Medical Director, James R. Heap, M.D., recently presented the results of the HealthWise Program at the Joint Forum on Health, Productivity and Absence Management sponsored by the National Business Group on Health. Heap's presentation was part of the "Health Management as a Serious Business Strategy" session of the conference.

"The HealthWise Program has done exactly what we had hoped. We significantly increased the number of low-risk employees and reduced the number at high risk," said Heap. "There are a number of benefits from having healthier employees including increased productivity, fewer injuries and lower medical costs. We feel HealthWise definitely gives us a competitive edge in our business."

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Crown partnered with the University of Michigan in its approach to developing its Next Generation Health Management Program. The concept, outlined by Dr. Dee W. Edington, director of the Health Management Research Center at the University of Michigan, supports educating regardless of risk levels, reaching out to families, partnering with professionals and measuring results.

Crown Next Generation Program

During the presentation, Dr. Edington addressed the risks and natural cost flow related to the "Do-Nothing" strategy. Wayne Burton, M.D., senior vice president and medical executive VP at JP Morgan Chase, discussed the business case for effective health and disease management programs.

Crown started HealthWise in 2004. Today, more than 92 percent of its employees participate in the program. Participation has an inverse relationship with company healthcare costs per employee.

The HealthWise Program provides health benchmarks and personal risk analysis. HealthWise is a voluntary program for employees and spouses. Each individual is placed into a category of health (low, medium or high risk) based on his/her health risk appraisal (HRA). The HRA looks at several risk factors such as blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, exercise level, smoking and diabetes status. Low risk is defined as no more than two risk factors. High-risk individuals display five or more risk factors. Depending on the results of the HRA, employees and spouses receive health advising to guide them to better health. Other components of the program include wellness screenings, healthier vending options and access to a fitness-focused website.

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