More than 40% of hospitals and health care systems will be on the wellness bandwagon by 2010, a new survey from Meritain Health reports. Additionally, 75% are considering adding wellness programs for employees if they do not already have one in place.

At present, a mere 7% have wellness programs in place.

"These survey results reflect a significant opportunity for helping health care workers become healthier and more productive, but unfortunately also illustrate the challenges HR managers face in making wellness programs an integral part of the benefits offered to employees at our nation´s hospitals and physician´s offices," said Laura Smith, vice president of healthcare systems accounts for Meritain Health. "In perhaps no other industry could it be more important to have employees modeling healthy behavior, while at the same time producing significant cost savings for their employers."

Employers report barriers like overall program appeal (30%), cost (27%) and convincing C-suite executives (15%) as reasons why they have not yet gotten wellness initiatives off the ground.

"In these lean economic times, it is tempting for healthcare executives to eschew offering new employee benefits in the interest of prudent budgetary policy," said Dr. Larry Luter, Chief Medical Officer for Meritain Health. "With the cost of healthcare continuing to rise every year, and national data regarding the number of Americans who are overweight, obese or living with diabetes doing the same, an investment in employee health is one of the most important things any company can do to secure its long-term financial future."

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