Wellness programs should build “culture of health”

It’s unsurprising a study of PepsiCo’s wellness program published this month in the journal Health Affairs found the program’s efforts to help employees adopt healthy lifestyles didn’t achieve savings on a par with participants using the program to help them manage disease. Since the study measured healthcare utilization costs, naturally those employees not using the program to manage costly, chronic conditions were likely to be incurring lower health care costs in the first instance, thus producing less opportunity for savings. For these employees, the goal should be to avoid the occurrence of chronic conditions in the first place – a factor not within the scope of the study.

Commenting on the study in The New York Times, Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health, pointed to potential longer term savings if wellness programs can foster a culture of health. “It sends a message that this company cares about people,” Darling told The Times. “It will attract people who want to work for a company that demonstrates a culture of health.”

That culture of health, however, is absent from many information-based organizations that still conform to an outmoded Industrial Age management model that requires much of the day be wasted on commuting in order to be physically present sitting in an office cube farm – hardly a health promoting environment. That lack of schedule control makes it more difficult for many to devote sufficient time to health promoting behaviors including sufficient exercise, sleep and healthy diet. Click here for more on this point.


Need a speaker or webinar presenter on the Affordable Care Act and the outlook for health care reform? Contact Pilot Healthcare Strategies Principal Fred Pilot by email fpilot@pilothealthstrategies.com or call 530-295-1473. 

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Frederick Pilot

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