Disease Management Update
Volume V, No. 24
October 9, 2008
Dear Healthcare Intelligence Network Client,
Disease management is as much about promoting wellness and preventing disease as it is about treating existing conditions. This week's DM Update looks at North Carolina's latest smoking cessation program, as well as the American Heart Association's focus on health and fitness in the workplace.
Your colleague in the business of healthcare,
Editor, Disease Management Update
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Table of Contents
- Smoking Cessation Program Targets Mentally Ill
- Disease Management Q&A: Measuring a Champion's Success
- HealthSounds Podcast: Wellness Communication Strategy That Motivates and Engages Employees
- AHA Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Focus on Worksite Walking
- Survey of the Month: Healthcare Trends in 2009
- Telehealth Improves Access to Clinicians for Every American
Smoking Cessation Program Targets Mentally Ill
Approximately 70 percent of individuals with serious mental illness smoke cigarettes, and individuals with mental illness or addiction consume nearly half of all cigarettes purchased in the United States. In an effort to cut these numbers, North Carolina created a new statewide tobacco cessation program for mental health consumers called “Breathe Easy, Live Well.” The program, which will be implemented in psychosocial treatment centers across the state, aims to reduce the harmful effects that tobacco has on individuals with mental illness by providing them with equal access to smoke-free environments and cessation programs, in addition to increasing their awareness about overall wellness.
The project is funded by the North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust Fund (HWTF) as part of its overall tobacco cessation initiative. To date, NC HWTF has spent $54.3 million to address tobacco use in the state since its efforts began in 2003.
“The NC Health and Wellness Trust Fund is committed to reducing the health effects of tobacco use in our state for all populations,” said Lt. Governor Bev Perdue, HWTF chair. “Through this initiative, the Commission is intensifying its efforts to reach out to this particularly vulnerable population with specialized services designed to better meet their unique needs.”
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2. Disease Management Q&A: Measuring a Champion's Success
Each week, a healthcare professional responds to a reader's query on an industry issue. This week's expert is William B. Baun, manager of wellness programs at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
Question: How do you measure the success of wellness champion programs?
Response: Participation is very important. We can't belittle just counting heads. That's really important. But then you've got to move down to the behavior change that's taking place. You've got to have different measures for the different things that you're going after, be it stress reduction, improved nutrition or increased physical activity. That could be collected via an HRA or another survey — true outcome data where you're measuring cholesterol or blood pressure, diabetic measures or efforts where you're just trying to get people to better manage their chronic diseases.
It depends on the programs you're running and the focus of your goals and objectives for that year. We find in our programs that we have a variety of different measures. You're trying to keep up with that officially and cost-effectively. There are some things that we would love to be able to measure, but we just can't do it cost-effectively.
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3. HealthSounds Podcast: Wellness Communication Strategy That Motivates and Engages Employees
When Nashville healthcare firm Healthways decided to offer internally all the health and wellness programs it develops for customers, it provided an opportunity to improve the user experience externally, explains Heath Shackleford, senior director of marketing and communications. In communicating the wellness programs to its own employees, Healthways amplified the message around privacy, underscoring that the company held employees' privacy in the highest regard. In tandem with its internal communications team, Healthways tied its wellness message to the corporate mission: "Creating a healthier world, one person at a time." Healthways senior leadership then went to marathon lengths to support the effort.
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AHA Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Focus on Worksite Walking
More than 900 businesses across the nation have been recognized by the American Heart Association's (AHA) Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Program for promoting physical activity and health in the workplace — a 20 percent increase over last year.
The biggest obstacles preventing employees from getting enough physical activity are the time constraints and responsibilities of their jobs. The AHA answer to this is Start! Fit-Friendly Companies Program, which aims to develop a corporate culture of physical activity by motivating employees to walk during their workday. Start! targets both individuals and companies and focuses on walking because it has the lowest dropout rate of any form of physical activity. The AHA provides free toolkits to companies who want to implement a worksite walking program.
Program participants implement various options to encourage physical activity, nutrition and culture enhancements such as on-site walking routes, healthy food options in cafeterias and vending machines, annual employee HRAs and online tracking tools. Wellness programs have increased in popularity in recent years because they are economical and efficient ways to help offset increasing employee healthcare costs, according to an AHA survey. The survey also showed that fewer than one in five employees evaluate their employer as encouraging participation in their company wellness program extremely or very well. However, employees in these highly encouraging environments are more likely to participate in and value these programs.
"Employees participating in wellness programs experience fewer sick days, improved quality of life and higher job satisfaction," said Dave Josserand, chairman of the AHA. "Wellness programs will continue to play an important role in the health of Americans in years to come. The evidence that participating employees realize health benefits is key; research shows that businesses can save as much as $16 for every $1 they spend on health and wellness."
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5. Survey of the Month: Depression and DM in 2008
Depression affects over 20 million Americans and billions of dollars are spent on treatment, medication and other therapies. Most cases of depression are still unrecognized or treated inappropriately, which leads to immeasurable costs in employee absenteeism, lost productivity and spiraling healthcare costs. Complete HIN's survey of the month on depression in DM programs in 2008 by October 31 and get a FREE executive summary of the compiled results.
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6. Telehealth Improves Access to Clinicians for Every American
A newly released white paper entitled “Telephone Connectivity Supports Medical Home Model and Removes Barriers to Care,” authored by Kenneth P. Moritsugu, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.P.M., articulates the value of telehealth — using the telephone to provide physician or consumer-directed cross coverage 24/7 — as an emerging and effective application in tackling issues related to episodic care as well as chronic care management for diseases such as diabetes, cancer and cardiac disease.
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