The Business Value of Integrating Health and Safety
Dr. Ronald Loeppke
(U.S. Preventive Medicine)
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This Keynote presentation reviews the results of recent published research as well case studies regarding the impact of the health and safety of the workforce on business and industry. It also provides an overview of the business case leading employers to invest in integrated health, safety and productivity improvement strategies and successful examples workplace health and safety initiatives. Poor health has cost consequences to business, industry and our economy that have largely lurked beneath the surface and not been recognized until the damage is done. Medical and pharmaceutical expenses are just the tip of the iceberg that is threatening to sink many corporate ships. There is a growing recognition that health-related productivity loss such as substandard performance on the job (presenteeism) as well as employee absences due to illness, injury and other factors (absenteeism) add compelling cost burdens to employers. In fact, a study by the Milken Institute concluded that Prevention, early detection, and more effective chronic condition management could save the U.S. $1 trillion annually. (The Milken Institute “An Unhealthy America” 2007) Research published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (Loeppke, et al.; Health and Productivity as a Business Strategy: A Multi-Employer Study); JOEM, April, 2009), showed that workforce health conditions caused an average monetized productivity loss of 2.3 times the medical and pharmacy expenditures for chronic health conditions ($2.3:$1). Medical and pharmacy claims were matched with the health-related presenteeism and absenteeism data obtained from the Dr. Ron Kessler (Harvard)/WHO Health and Work Performance Questionnaire (HPQ) to identify the top health conditions driving total cost for employers. As health risks go, so go health costs. In a clinical study following 7,804 individuals from a variety of employer groups who followed a high tech and high touch personalized preventive health program for two years, individual health risks were significantly reduced. Further, there was a migration from higher overall risk to lower overall health risk. In fact, Harvard Medical School researchers published a study in the journal of Health Affairs in 2010, a critical meta-analysis of 22 research studies in the scientific literature demonstrating that medical and pharmacy costs fall by about $3.27 and absenteeism costs fall by about $2.73 for every $1 invested in a comprehensive wellness program—which results in a return on investment (ROI) of 6 to 1. (Baicker K, Cutler D, Song Z. Workplace Wellness Programs Can Generate Savings. Health Affairs (Millwood). 2010; 29(2). To bring about real change to the corporate bottom line, employers must look beyond healthcare benefits as a cost to be managed and rather to the benefits of good health and safety as investments to be leveraged. The bottom line is that good health and safety is good business! Learning Objectives: (a.) Identifying the key trends that are advancing the Value of Health and the Power of Prevention in integrating Health and Safety initiatives. (b.) Recognizing the total cost (medical/pharmacy and absenteeism/presenteeism costs) impact of poor health on employers. (c.) Understanding the business case to present to the C-Suite for integrating health, safety and productivity strategies as an investment to be leveraged by employers. (d.) Defining key elements of integrated workplace health, safety and productivity enhancement strategies. (e.) Reviewing published studies and case studies of the outcome results of effective workplace health and safety initiatives.