Maintaining a healthy workforce is paramount to a business’s success. During the first day of the EBA's Workplace Benefits Summit, three experts took the stage to deliver healthy knowledge advisers can use to build a healthier staff for their clients.

Sam Patel, SVP of sales and revenue at Newtopia, Inc., shared how personalizing health programs in the workplace can help prevent disease and improve employee health and productivity.

Patel said the primary focus of disease prevention within Newtopia is around metabolic syndrome, which means that five risk factors or conditions come together within an individual.

Cort Olsen/EBA

“If we find two risk factors, you are at risk for metabolic syndrome,” Patel said. “If we find three or more risk factors within your system, you have metabolic syndrome.”

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Patel added that at least 50% of Americans have metabolic syndrome today and those diagnosed with metabolic syndrome are five times as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes, two times as likely to develop heart disease and three times as likely to have a stroke.

“This comes at a very big financial impact as well,” Patel said. “From a medical claims stand point alone, it’s about 60% more than a healthy individual, and without an intervention it is very likely the person will go down a predictable route to a chronic illness.”
To deter these numbers from rising and even reducing the numbers presented, Patel recommends behavioral change around exercise, eating habits and getting more sleep.

“It’s very easy for us to say we need to change our lifestyles and lose weight but the issue is how, Patel said. “The key to each person lies within themselves; we just have to take the time out to understand these individuals.”

Behavior change
In the second part of EBN Live, Matt Loper, CEO of Wellth, shared how to take wellness beyond the corporate boardroom and bring behavior change strategies for at-risk employees.

Loper said today’s technology is perfect for people in the healthcare industry because the connection of mobile devices has made it very easy to keep track of patients who may suffer from a chronic illness or require the need for the use of prescriptions.

“If you wanted to start a program for your two diabetics, you can have them snap a picture of their pill bottle, receive data off a blood pressure cuff and receive all this additional data,” Loper said. “But there is one problem, to have these products and technologies you are going to spend over $400.”

Loper said the easiest way around purchasing these additional devices to track data on patients or clients is by utilizing apps already in use on smart phones.

“About half of patients do not take the pills they are subscribed because of cost and people tend to forget,” Loper said. “To get people to take the medication they are prescribed they need to be given goals, such as giving them a cash incentive, and for every day they don’t take the pills you take away two dollars.”

Because the employee has this goal now they will participate in the challenge by taking a photo of the pills or the pill bottle and in return use technology to evaluate the medication they are using and add it to the data on other employees who suffer similar illnesses.

Healthier, happier and more productive
Finally, in the closing section of EBN Live, Ross Guttler, senior director of business development at Delos, informed the audience on how offices can deliver a healthier, happier and more productive workforce.

Guttler focused on the aspects of a work environment and how the changes in the light in the room or the quality of air can bring a stronger work ethic into the workplace environment.

Guttler said the gimmicks like having a game room or massage therapy do not need to be implemented in the workplace to see positive change, but might cause frustration amongst the employees.

“If there is an air hockey table in the office, how many people are actually going to use it,” Guttler said. “Maybe 10% of employees might use it and the other 90% are just going to be annoyed that you’re playing instead of working.”

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Having an open floor concept with natural light coming into the room and access to high quality nutrition could boost productivity within the work environment without employees becoming frustrated over who’s working and who is just playing around. “In the end, this is all about health and how it helps you be a less stressed and more productive worker,” Guttler said.

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