May 27, 2019

What’s Wrong with Wellness?: A Response to JAMA’s Effect of a Workplace Wellness Program on Employee Health and Economic Outcomes: A Randomized Clinical Trial

What's Wrong with Wellness?: A Response to JAMA's Effect of a Workplace Wellness Program on Employee Health and Economic Outcomes: A Randomized Clinical Trial

JAMA, Harvard Medical School and University of Chicago studied antiquated wellness model

Applied Health Analytics, LLC, which provides best-in-class analytics, technology and services to health systems across the United States in support of population health and value-based care arrangements with employers, published a response to a recent Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) article that measures the impact of employer-sponsored wellness programs.

Applied Health Analytics examines how value-based care and government-sponsored innovation models focus on bundle payments for episodic care proliferate conversations on best practices in health care delivery. These movements validate the interaction of data, quality objectives, incentives and accountability. Unlike the antiquated wellness model JAMA and other recent outlets examine, Applied Health Analytics asserts that successful employer-sponsored wellbeing initiatives seek the same alignment of accountability, value and quality outcomes.

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“According to RAND’s study, “Multiple Chronic Conditions in the United States,” about 60 percent of U.S. adults live with at least one chronic condition, with 42 percent of adults suffering multiple conditions,” states Robert Chamberlain, chairman and CEO at Applied Health Analytics, LLC. “Unless a company primarily employs young invincibles, most companies resemble these statistics or worse. A wellness program not cognizant of this reality is akin to outfitting all employees with the same size shirt.”

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The company’s response states that direct-to-employer strategies are best delivered in partnership with local health systems applying innovative, value-based care techniques. Employer populations are risk stratified by disease or behavior state, and provided access to health professionals who guide employees through a prescribed care pathway. Successful employer-sponsored health initiatives are based on real-time data, where claims data is utilized throughout a program to detail utilization, identify gaps in care and measure the efficacy of the wellbeing program itself.

“In my 30-years of experience, I have seen the employer/health system relationship mature into a valued partnership,” continued Chamberlain. “Health systems are disrupting the traditional payer model and are entering risk-based contracts featuring narrow networks built upon clinically integrated providers and bundle payment arrangements, as methods to mitigate costs. Today, health systems deploy innovative technology to align the health interests of employers with the resources of community-based providers, services and partnerships.”

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