Is Worksite Health Promotion Scary?
The current healthcare model in this country is scary.
It’s scary from a cost standpoint, to be sure. We spend more than $2 trillion annually on healthcare, and according to the American Medical Association, 75 percent of U.S. medical care dollars are spent on preventable illnesses like cardiovascular disease and diabetes. U.S. healthcare can be scary from a user standpoint, too.
A Frightening ER Adventure
I recently had an experience with strep throat while I was out of town. Unfortunately, my best Jedi mind tricks couldn’t beat his bug, so one raging fever and a wicked sore throat later, I found myself at the hotel lobby at 11:30 p.m. asking for help finding an emergency room.
The ER waiting room was an adventure in itself. After having to weave through a maze of men who appeared to be “sleeping it off,” I noticed that the waiting room smelled like urine. One of the would-be patients was vomiting in the most gut-wrenching way possible every two or three minutes. And there was this weird guy sitting in front of me who wasn’t wearing a shirt, had a gaping wound on his forehead, and (of course) he felt it was acceptable to take off his shoes and socks to lay down on the lounge chair. In a creepy (but I think well-meaning paternal) way, he repeately asked me, “Honey, are you OK?”
There’s nothing like a scary ER waiting room in a strange town to make you think twice about just how sick you really are!
Can Worksite Wellness Be the Place to Start?
Forgive me this sweeping generalization, but I think promoting better health really is the answer to this country’s scary sick-care model. If we can keep more people well, it will take some of the burden off of our overworked system (and hopefully help keep our emergency rooms from looking like something out of a horror film).
Worksites really do have a captive audience to target for worksite health promotion. Unfortunately, it seems that building a healthier workforce is getting scary, too. There are legal landmines to navigate, value-based benefits design to decode, communication strategies to build, and leadership to get on board. And if that isn’t a scary enough to-do list, many worksites are embarking on these healthier strategies with an army of one (or sometimes half of one) person.
“It’s scary” isn’t a reason to not get to work incentivizing better health in your workforce (it’s never wrong to do the right thing), but it certainly has stalled the best-laid plans.
What is your worksite doing to bravely improve employee health?