- A third of those who initially tested as diabetic or pre-diabetic achieved normal blood levels after participating in an employer-sponsored wellness program offered by Omada Health, as well as a digital intervention regimen, according to new research from Quest Diagnostics.
- Quest Diagnostic's study looked at data collected over three years from a cohort of 107 people — employees and their spouses and partners. More than a quarter of participants (29%) also lost 5% or more of their body weight. Other participants reported reductions in fasting glucose levels and dwindling numbers for their hemoglobin A1c, two indicators of diabetes.
- Each participant worked with a full-time health coach who kept them working toward healthy goals, Quest Diagnostics Chief Marketing Officer Jay Wohlgemuth told HR Dive in an email. Participants received smart technology that tracked their progress and differentiated the tactics that helped them from the strategies that weren't so successful. Participants were given weekly guidance for nutrition, fitness, sleep and stress management, which had an immediate impact on the choices they made, Wohlgemuth noted.
Diabetes treatment can rack up major costs for both the diabetic and his or her insurer. Research indicates that employers might want to consider whether to institute creative initiatives like wellness groups, awareness and education efforts, and nutritious in-office snack and meal options to combat rising numbers and expenses.
More than 30 million Americans live with the disease — 4% have Type 1 diabetes and the remaining 96% have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that a third of Americans over the age of 18 and half of adults older than 65 have prediabetes. The American Diabetes Association calculated that a company boasting 1,000 employees insures 120 diabetic employees and 370 prediabetic employees. The average annual insurance cost for diabetic and prediabetic employees comes out to $4 million, the same study found. And that number increases by more than $750,000 every year if just a quarter of prediabetic employees become diabetic.
"Employers continue to confront annual increases in the cost of health benefits, with expenditures projected to rise as much as 6.5 percent in 2018 alone. In 2017, average employee healthcare cost was $13,482 — with employers paying 69 percent of the bill," Wohlgemuth said. "Meaningful wellness programs are one of the most effective ways to bend the healthcare cost curve."
As wellness programs continue to prove themselves helpful in mitigating the costs driven by chronic diseases and other illnesses, employers may need to brainstorm and implement other measures to promote health in the workplace. Wohlgemuth, for example, said he developed a six-point plan to better manage wellness at Quest. It includes partnering with healthcare leaders, identifying population risks with data, and providing employees with tools for health improvement in the office.