Vadim LibermanI recently received the Spring Issue of “The Conference Board” Magazine” and was very impressed with an article that the senior editor Vadim Liberman wrote entitled ” In Sickness and In Health-Do Companies Care About Their Peoples“.   Over the last many years my interestes have been focused on wellness in the workplace, and Vadim’s feature article hit the nail on the head as far as I was concerned.

As Vadim states in the article ” As the world get flatter, its’s getting fatter and sicker.  Heart disease, diabetes, cancer and a host of other conditions afflict more of us than ever. But it’s not only our ballooning bodies that are ailing.  Companies are suffering from ill health, exhibiting symptoms that include lower productivity, engagement, and morale, as well as higher medical costs.”

In my interview with Vadim we speak about not only the issues of developing wellness program for organization to improve the overall health of the organization, but just as importantly we discuss the important issues of the necessary cultural changes necessary to sustain organizational vitality and health.

The main purpose of wellness programs–trimming medical expenses–is obvious.  Except that it’s obvious to no one outside the United States.  You see our focus is on reducing medical costs and it is our number one priority, but in other countries such as Canada, Europe, and Latin America productivity is companies’ top wellness-program objective.   According to Vadim’s research US businesses may be swallowing the wrong pill to slash overall expenses.  Productivity has a greater financial impact than medical costs, explains Barry Hall, a principal in the clinical-health-consulting and global technology-solutions practices of Buck Consultants.

According to the recent Buck Consultants global-wellness survey, two thirds of organizations currently have a formal wellness strategy, up from 49% in 2007.  However, few companies say they have fully implemented their plans, especially across borders, and 28% of those with no strategy admit they don’t know how to get started.  One thing for certain is that companies should seriously consider implementing a wellness strategy, and it needs to include a focus on the cultural issues of wellness as well as the metrics of creating a well and vital organization.

One connection seems clear: between worker heath and productivity.  “People who have poor health report lower levels of productivity” In fact one study indicates an 18 percent difference in productivity between healthy and unhealthy worker.  If you would like to read the entire article please click here to be directed to the Conference Board article.

 

I hope you enjoy my interview with Vadim Liberman the senior editor for ” The Conference Board Magazine

Dee Edington, Ph.D.If you are interested at all about the future of wellness and healthcare, then you need go no further than our guest for this podcast Dee Edington Ph.D.  Dee is the author of over 500 articles on the subject, and his new book entitled “Zero Trends: Health as a Serious Economic Strategy” certainly is a must read for anyone involved in the delivery of wellness and healthcare solution.

In my interview with Dee we discuss the two major problems that need to be solved: the rising cost of healthcare in America, which is eroding profits at an accelerating rate and leading toward disaster for businesses.  As well as the do-nothing approach which is not a solution at all.

Dee suggest that we need to move from a sickness orientated culture to a culture of health, a culture in which we not only care for the sick but also enable the healthy to stay healthy.   This is an approach that lowers healthcare costs and as the same time increases productivity and human satisfaction.

Edington quotes  Albert Einstein “the world we have made as a result of the level of thinking we have done thus far creates problems we cannot solve at the same level of thinking at which we created them.”    It is clear that after all of these years of the same medical approaches to managing health, more doctors, nurses, hospitals, procedures and devices will not solve the problems.  Edington disagrees with those in the medical profession and some of the health economists and politicians who argue that prevention and healthy lifestyles will not lower the total costs of sickness or lead to a better way of life for individuals and businesses.  The information and data presented in “Zero Trends”  will support the argument that improved health status will not only reduce healthcare costs for companies but also increase performance and productivity in the workplace.

The bottom line is that we need to focus on bringing back vitality to our businesses and the people that work in them. The new model for healthcare in America redefines healthcare as a combination of illness and wellness strategies.  It is designed to help employers enable employees to become self-leaders in maintaining their energy, vitality and overall performance.
If you are interested in learning more about “Zero Trends” then I highly recommend that you visit the Health Management Research Center at the University of Michigan by clicking here.  You can also purchase Dee’s book at this website by clicking this link to take you directly to the book’s landing page.

I hope you enjoy this wonderful interview with a man who has dedicated his career to helping us better understand the challenges we are facing in healthcare.