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Preventive care for a healthier workforce is vital to a successful business

Encouraging employees to get their recommended screenings, check-ups and lifestyle counseling can mean more productivity and fewer sick days

John Brill, MD, Vice President of Population Health for Wisconsin, Advocate Aurora Health
John Brill, MD, is Vice President of Population Health for Wisconsin, Advocate Aurora Health. Dr. Brill is a Clinical Adjunct Professor of Family Medicine & Community Health for the University of Wisconsin School Of Medicine and Public Health as well as the Medical College of Wisconsin. He received his Medical Doctor and Master of Public Health degrees from the Medical College of Wisconsin in 1991 and 2001.

Savvy employers know that the wellness of their employees is key to their organizations’ performance. Employees who are healthy are more productive and less likely to take sick days. Receiving recommended preventive care and making healthy lifestyle choices are two key steps in maintaining good health.

Preventing disease saves lives

Preventive care can stop disease before it starts. An example is colorectal cancer screening. Colorectal cancer usually starts from small benign growths called polyps that over time can turn cancerous. A colonoscopy allows a physician to view the entire large intestine and remove any polyps and prevent colorectal cancer from developing.

Guiding appropriate care

An employee is more likely to stay current with their preventive care when under the guidance of a primary care provider. A primary care provider can recommend appropriate care for the employee’s age and health history, including:

  • Diagnostic tests to check blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol;
  • Cancer screenings such as mammograms, colonoscopies and lung cancer screening;
  • Screenings for sexually transmitted diseases;
  • Regular care to ensure healthy pregnancies, including counseling, screenings and vaccines;
  • Vaccinations for flu, pneumonia, measles, polio, meningitis and other diseases; and
  • Counseling for smoking cessation, weight loss, healthy eating, depression and substance abuse.

Tapping technology to support preventive care

Advanced technology and telehealth are emerging to support preventive care. One example is Advocate Aurora Health’s online patient portal that allows patients to easily message their primary care and other providers, schedule appointments and see their test results.

The portal also generates friendly reminders to patients about scheduling preventive care. Women may receive reminders about scheduling their annual mammogram or others may receive reminders about recommended screenings and vaccines based on their age and health history.

E-visits and virtual visits are a convenient, cost-effective way to treat common ailments before they morph into something more serious and expensive to treat. Advocate Aurora’s telehealth options allow people to access prompt consultations and care from a health care provider online 24/7.

What’s trending in the workplace

Employers are motivated to influence healthy behaviors to keep health care coverage affordable, while improving their employees’ health. Employers are adopting a wide range of strategies, from providing healthier food options in the cafeteria to more comprehensive interventions that encourage employees to adopt and sustain healthy lifestyles.

This may include partnering with a health organization that offers population health management and care management strategies — used to better engage patients and help control health costs — while improving the health of their employees.

One example is Kettle Moraine School District’s partnership with Advocate Aurora to make health care more affordable and accessible for its employees and their families. Through the health system’s Employer Solutions Well Priority insurance product, the district offers its teachers and other employees access to a near-site clinic to receive preventative care, vaccinations and screenings.

Incentivizing healthier behaviors

Using incentives that reward or penalize certain behaviors can encourage employee engagement in managing their health. Incentives can encourage employees to:

  • Complete health risk assessments to track weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and tobacco use;
  • Be more active or join a health club;
  • Join a weight-loss program; or
  • Complete a smoking cessation program.

Educating and encouraging preventive care

Especially during open enrollment, employers can help educate their employees so they fully understand their health insurance benefits and take advantage of their preventive care coverage.

Want to explore a proven way to improve your employees’ health and well-being and lower your medical costs? Visit Advocate Aurora’s Employer Solutions for a solution customized to your company’s culture that could include employer clinics, wellness, occupational health, employee assistance programs (EAP), executive health programs and more.

Advocate Aurora Health is one of the 10 largest not-for-profit, integrated health systems in the United States and a leading Midwest employer with more than 70,000 employees and the region’s largest employed medical staff and home health organization. The system serves nearly 3 million patients annually in Illinois and Wisconsin.

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