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Employee Benefits

Attacking the Real Enemy in Healthcare – Disease

Leia Spoor
Leia Spoor
Clinical Director, Employee Benefits

Coronavirus, COVID-19 — yes, it’s June and yes we are STILL talking about this. But, stay with me…there’s a little twist to this one. You see, no matter what the newly named virus is of our time, there’s one thing that’s been bubbling under the surface for years and years. It’s this ugly thing we call DISEASE.

Even though we may still be learning about how this virus will impact us long term, one very clear fact we do know is the impact it has had on those with chronic disease.

You’ve all probably heard just how the devastating the impact has been. The CDC tells us that over 70 percent of those requiring hospitalization and almost 80 percent of those requiring ICU care had at least one underlying disease, health condition, or risk factor​.

What this tells us is that the real enemy is disease. We’ve actually had this phrase at Holmes Murphy and have talked about this many years – long before President Trump started saying it in his daily briefings!

COVID-19 is the enemy. It’s the virus you have to figure out how to battle. And it’s not only impacting the healthy, but it is what I would say “actively recruiting” those with chronic disease – those with hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and others.

What we now are faced with is not only figuring out how to control this virus, but how do we help those who are being so heavily targeted by it? How can we get a handle on chronic disease? How can we work to both avoid AND reduce disease? Is it possible?

How Can Employers Avoid and Reduce Disease?

During a recent webinar, several questions arose about whose responsibility it was to impact disease. My response was that it’s everyone’s responsibility. Those who are going to be the most successful at improving the game of health (which, by the way, is an infinite game) will be those who take on the mindset of this being an organizational responsibility coupled with an individual response.

You see, an organization can only do so much on its own. It takes the Individuals who make up an organization to actually respond if the outcome is going to change.

So, how do you get individuals to respond? You come up with a strong battle plan and help them believe they can succeed at attacking this enemy.

This plan involves many phases, and the approach is unique for each workplace and each individual. We know some are more aggressive and can move faster, and some need a more drawn-out attack.

What is important is that you have this in place! A good battle plan involves data and understanding your population’s health, knowing your culture, and identifying goals. ​Some of it will involve vendor solutions, like digital therapeutics that have really been brought to light during this time using telehealth, remote monitoring, and expert medical opinions.​ Some of it will involve various plan design and cost considerations.

All of it is focusing on one outcome — attacking the enemy of disease and avoiding and reducing its impact on individuals.

We’ve seen these battle plans placed into action and producing results. Metabolic risk has been lowered and, in turn, reduced the risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Musculoskeletal care pathways have been deployed, eliminating both pain and unnecessary surgeries. Care coordination has shown that getting to the right care at the right time can reduce cost for both the individual and employers.

We at Holmes Murphy have been on this battle ground for many years and will continue to be — we believe it’s our responsibility! For those employers that share our same battle cry — shout out to us! We believe you should surround yourself with an army to help attack this enemy, and we’ll sign up to help.

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