Diabetes Management Programs for Employers

Employee wellness programs are all the rave these days. They represent an employer’s investment in the social, mental, and physical health of their employee population and can help to reduce absenteeism, improve presenteeism and generally create happier employees. Specific programs differ widely across employers and include both lifestyle and chronic disease management programs. It isn’t uncommon to see benefits such as on-site yoga classes, fitness center memberships, and diabetes or heart disease programs offered by the same employer. Technology not only elevates these services to employees, but also the employers can integrate existing services into online platforms to consolidate benefits, address health challenges, and give employees on-demand access to health-related information.

The Financial Benefit
Employers benefit financially from successful wellness programs. Engaging wellness programs can have a 3:1 return on investment (ROI) and can lead to a reduction in employee absenteeism, staff turnover, and employee stress. Johnson & Johnson estimates that its wellness programs have cumulatively saved the company over $250 million since their inception in 1995. Additionally, these programs can help companies attract and keep talented employees. Surveys have shown that employees factor benefits into career decisions: nearly 3 of 5 employees will consider a job opportunity with slightly lower pay if it offers better benefits and 1 of 6 employees have rejected a job offer or left an employer due to the benefits offered. Chronic disease management programs offer can higher financial benefit for the employer because these conditions are expensive to treat and typically account for most of an employer’s healthcare costs.

Diabetes – A Big Problem for Employers
Diabetes is a chronic disease that directly impacts over 29 million people in the US. An employee diagnosed with diabetes spends $13,700 annually on medical expenses, whereas an employee without diabetes spends only $5,800. Inpatient care and prescription medication to treat diabetes-related complications (hypoglycemia, comorbidities, etc.) account for 60% of these costs. Not only is this a financial burden for employees with diabetes, but employers pay indirect costs due to employee absenteeism and reduced productivity while at work.

Diabetes Management Programs
Studies have shown diabetes management programs have a significant impact on improving A1c and increasing patient-initiated preventative medical screenings for those enrolled. The most effective components of these programs were a high level of provider-to-patient interaction and the ability of coaches to be more proactive in diabetes management. In one study, 6,800 Medicare recipients with diabetes were given access to diabetes management programs and the results were clearly in favor of the programs: enrollees visited their primary care physicians more frequently, were more likely to receive eye, lipid, and kidney screenings, and had lower blood glucose levels compared to those who were not enrolled. Moreover, enrolled members visited the emergency room less than non-enrollees and consequently, the average monthly cost for enrollees was 20% lower.

Do Your Homework
Unfortunately, all diabetes management programs ARE NOT created equal. It is important to understand if each program you assess can integrate into the lives of your employees, identify risk within your employee population, provide personalized insight to motivate employees to make better lifestyle choices, and ensure that the coaches, care teams, and physicians that treat your employees aren’t in the dark about the program. Finally, the diabetes management program should be financially advantageous. Glooko created an ROI calculator to help potential customers understand the financial implication of adopting Glooko as their diabetes management program – check it out.

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