Staying well in winter isn’t just about getting a flu shot. There are many reasons for employers to approach flu/illness prevention holistically. Many viruses, not just influenza, can cause workplace illness during the cooler months. Because the flu vaccine has variable effectiveness, even in the best of times, encourage your employees to do more and have a plan with a provider if they get sick despite getting vaccinated. Here are some ways you can help your employees take charge of their health.

Spotlight/facilitate hygiene:  A single cough or sneeze spreads infectious droplets several feet into the air in all directions.[1]

  • Consider posting reminders and strategic signage to help everyone remember hygiene basics, such as “Cover your cough” Or “Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after blowing your nose or coughing.”[2]
  • Provide easy access to soap and hand sanitizer at work—this encourages employees to wash and sanitize.
  • Viruses can be picked up from surfaces too, so recommend that employees disinfect/clean shared objects, such as phones, that may be contaminated.

Keep a distance: It’s wise to stay away from people who are sick. Policies allowing sick time can encourage employees to take needed time to get healthy, discourage disease transmission, and reduce presenteeism. Influenza can be spread from a day before symptoms arrive to 5-7 days after getting sick; other viruses are usually contagious for approximately a week. If an employee is sick, expect them to stay home until 24 hours after fever is gone or as a doctor directs.

Take antiviral medicine when appropriate: Most respiratory illnesses don’t respond to antibiotics or antiviral medication.[3] Flu diagnosis and taking anti-viral medication (Oseltamivir or Zanamivir) especially within 2 days of getting the flu can shorten illness and prevent serious complications or a hospital stay for people who are very sick or at risk of complications.  Encouraging health literacy around common illnesses and the proper role of antibiotics helps improve health and control costs.

Know when to get care:  If your organization offers our Health Advocacy service to your employees or members, Health Advocate can connect them to providers, support those with chronic conditions to plan for care, as well as provide flu vaccine (for clients who purchase flu shots). Encourage your employees to call Health Advocate to find a primary care provider, if they don’t already have one. It’s wise for employees to be proactive and plan with their provider about the flu ahead of time whenever possible.

[1] https://www.livescience.com/3686-gross-science-cough-sneeze.html

[2]  https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/hygiene/etiquette/coughing_sneezing.html

[3] https://www.cdc.gov/antibiotic-use/community/for-patients/common-illnesses/index.html

Continue reading: “Our Wellness Program has always been great, but we’ve been working out”

As the wellness market evolves and improves, so does our Wellness Program – allowing your organization to be prepared for what’s next!

We are excited to share with you the recent enhancements we’ve made. We added more technology and tools to help boost engagement, inspire behavior change and encourage your employees to become active participants in their health and well-being.

Recent enhancements include:

Enhanced Member Website and Mobile App

Easily engage your employees with our new online experience that connects all of their Health Advocate services and benefits in one place. Our app puts a Wellness Coach in the palm of your employees’ hand so they can get healthy on the go.

Incentive Management

We added new ways for you to customize your incentive program and award points for activities such as self-reporting the completion of wellness commitments.

Wellness Challenges

Make it fun and easy for employees to earn incentive points and meet their health goals with over 25 pre-designed and customizable activity-based challenges, as well as nutrition, hydration and well-being options. Use our online tool, ClientConnect, to create, manage and track the success of company-sponsored challenges with our step-by-step wizard. You can even run challenges across multiple organizations.

Healthy Change

Give employees what they really want: an opportunity to pick their own incentive reward. Employees can choose from gift cards, fitness devices and exercise gear.

Goal-Oriented Trackers

Push your employees a little bit more to meet healthy standards by awarding points for new trackers. Employees can sync their fitness devices or favorite apps for easy tracking.

New Workshops and Online Programs

We expanded our library to include hot topics like resilience, sleep, and pregnancy, as well as an intensive weight loss program.

If you currently have our Wellness Program, contact your Wellness Program Consultant or Account Manager to learn more about these enhancements and how you can utilize them to engage your employees in their well-being. If you don’t, contact our Sales Team to learn about how our Wellness Program can take your wellness strategy to the next level.

866.799.2655 | info@HealthAdvocate.com

Continue reading: “Fighting the Flu Requires More Than a Flu Shot”

Episode 11: Making Sense of Financial Wellness

Financial issues can create stress and negatively impact productivity among employees. In this episode of Health Advocate’s Ask the Expert series, Jessy Paull, Vice President and Product Specialist with Health Advocate’s EAP+Work/Life division, discusses how organizations can implement an effective financial wellness program.

Upcoming webinar explores how integrating technology and concierge services
makes healthcare easier

Plymouth Meeting, PA, January 24, 2018 — West’s Health Advocate Solutions, a leading health concierge and benefits solutions company, announced today the launch of its new engagement-driven product packages. By offering these industry-changing bundled solutions, Health Advocate eliminates fragmentation in healthcare by integrating key services into seamless solutions designed to drive increased employee engagement in employer-provided benefits, improving outcomes and reducing costs.

The bundles combine data-driven medical decision support, second opinions and access to an interactive online platform, complemented by Health Advocate’s high-touch, 24/7 concierge services to simplify the member experience.

Marking the launch of the product bundles, Abbie Leibowitz, M.D., F.A.A.P., Chief Medical Officer, Founder and President Emeritus of Health Advocate noted, “As the health benefits and medical care systems continue to evolve, we saw the opportunity to adjust how we position our services. Building upon our legacy of innovation and customer service, these new engagement-driven packages signal a pivotal shift for Health Advocate, enabling us to provide our clients with the right set of resources to take control of their medical benefits and empowering members to take charge of their health.”

Health Advocate works with organizations to create a comprehensive, integrated package of services that optimizes their existing health plan and maximizes employee participation in current benefit programs. These bundles take advantage of Health Advocate’s digital navigation capabilities, enabled by our sector-leading machine learning approach to segment and stratify the population’s health needs. The resulting bundle is specifically designed to address the unique engagement challenges facing both fully-insured and self-insured companies.

Targeted, multi-channel communications, including home mailings, email and mobile app notifications, built around a relationship with Health Advocate’s personal concierge assistance, are features of each package. They also incorporate a single point of contact through which members can access all of their benefits. Health Advocate’s data demonstrate that combining an integrated package of benefit support services with digital navigation and targeted outreach can increase engagement by 40 percent or more.

Health Advocate launched its new member website and app in April 2017 as an all-in-one, integrated hub for both Health Advocate programs as well as other health, wellness and benefits services. Recent updates include expanding the types of personalized advice and reminders sent to members via email and other channels, as well as the introduction of mobile push notifications to prompt members to better manage their health.

To learn more about these new product packages and how they are effectively engaging employees in their health, please join Health Advocate for an upcoming webinar on February 20 or 27 at 11 AM and 2PM ET. For more information and to register, please click here.

Integration overcomes challenges to drive engagement

By Arthur “Abbie” Leibowitz, M.D., F.A.A.P., Chief Medical Officer and Founder with West’s Health Advocate Solutions

As healthcare costs continue to rise, organizations are seeking strategies to help improve the health of their workforce as a means to better manage these costs. Further, surveys show that benefit leaders partner with an average of four to six different vendors in their benefits and well-being programs. Yet despite offering a number of programs, many employers still face challenges engaging employees to take steps toward better health.

Health Advocate has always been at the forefront of introducing solutions to make healthcare easier. As you know, ongoing changes in healthcare have further complicated how employees interact with and utilize their health and benefits, which can negatively impact costs and outcomes. In order to address these challenges, Health Advocate is embarking on a transformation toward a new, even more integrated approach that optimizes and streamlines existing benefits offerings to more effectively engage employees in their health.

With new product packages, Health Advocate is creating the framework to shift from a traditional standalone approach to an integrated matrix of services. This multifaceted model can improve employee health and well-being, enhance engagement, increase productivity, and tackle some of the primary issues that drive healthcare costs. And utilizing advocacy as the cornerstone of that strategy ensures employees have a single place to turn for help.

Integration Counteracts Fragmentation

When an issue arises, employees are often confused about whom or where to call for help, leading to frustration. Dealing with the healthcare system can mean spending hours on the phone during the work day, reducing productivity and costing employers time and money.

Interconnecting employee benefits with one number to call or one platform can make the process more seamless for the employee and ensure benefits are used more effectively, saving time and money for the employer.

For example, for an employee with a chronic condition like high cholesterol, regular screenings with a healthcare provider, good nutrition and exercise, and appropriate medical treatment are critical to effective care. However, many people do not cover all the bases necessary to care for their chronic conditions on their own. Integrating benefits enables organizations to identify at-risk employees and provide interventions such as personalized reminders, access to coaching, periodic health screenings and other strategies to address gaps in care and better engage people in their healthcare.

Data Addresses the Big Picture

As Health Advocate has introduced new solutions, integrating these programs with advocacy and incorporating data has been shown to increase engagement to an average of 40 percent and reduce the medical cost trend.

Leveraging data is the first step toward an integrated approach to benefits. Working with benefits providers like Health Advocate to implement a package that connects key components on the back-end, while creating a seamless experience for employers and employees on the front-end, can have a significant impact on satisfaction, costs, outcomes and engagement.

To help its clients achieve this goal, Health Advocate introduced its new member website and app in early 2017, which further streamlines this integrated approach by connecting many of the employees’ benefits in one easy-to-access place. We continue to evolve the platform to enhance the member experience, adding features like single sign-on with other providers, mobile push notifications and more.

Integrating benefits offers numerous advantages to organizations and their employees. By simplifying access, employees are able to maximize their use of benefits, which can increase workplace productivity and benefit their employer. Adopting an integrated model also ensures benefits services are used more efficiently, resulting in improved health outcomes and reduced costs for both employees and employers.

Continue to next story “New Hypertension Guidelines”

New Hypertension Guidelines

by: Raffi Terzian, MD, MPH, Senior Vice President of Clinical Operations, Senior Medical Director

Hypertension or high blood pressure is a significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease, including heart attack, heart failure and stroke as well as other conditions such as kidney disease. Factors such as family history, age, gender, and race or ethnicity may put someone at increased risk for developing hypertension. Lifestyle factors such as inactivity, a poor diet and being overweight can also contribute.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is estimated that nearly 1 in 3 American adults have high blood pressure and of those with high blood pressure, only about half have it under control.

The CDC also estimates that high blood pressure costs the nation around $48 billion each year related to the cost of health services, medications and missed days of work.

In November 2017, the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology published new guidelines recommending that the definition of high blood pressure be modified from starting at a systolic (top number) pressure of 140 or a diastolic pressure (bottom number) of 90 (stage 1) to starting at a systolic pressure of 130 or a diastolic pressure of 80. Normal blood pressure is defined as a systolic pressure less than 120 and a diastolic pressure less than 80. Based on the modified definition, it is anticipated that more Americans will be diagnosed with hypertension. The guidelines stress the importance of lifestyle management and provide direction with regard to who may benefit from treatment with medication.

For more information:

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/High-Blood-Pressure-or-Hypertension_UCM_002020_SubHomePage.jsp

https://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/index.htm

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/high-blood-pressure

 

Continue to next story: “Break through the barrier of benefits fragmentation”