Companies can save money by practising preventive care


  • Wellness
  • Wednesday, 08 Jul 2020

Employers can help encourage healthy lifestyle changes in their employees by conducting campaigns like taking the stairs as part of preventive care. — Filepic

Everyone surely understands and agrees with the proverb "Prevention is better than cure".

However, how often do we truly practise this principle in real life, especially when it comes to our health?

As individuals, health is without doubt a crucial element in allowing us to have the best quality of life possible.

It is also an essential factor in enabling us to earn a living and support ourselves and our loved ones.

For companies, the health of their employees is, again without doubt, a crucial part of their productivity and bottom line.

After all, unwell employees don't get work done efficiently, if at all.

And for companies that provide medical benefits, the healthcare costs of sick employees – especially those with chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure – can potentially make up a big part of their expenses.

Digital health platform DoctorOnCall co-founder Hazwan Najib notes that preventing someone from falling ill is potentially one of the hardest problems in healthcare.

This is despite the fact that we all probably know the tenets of keeping healthy: eating a balanced diet, doing regular physical activity, and maintaining good mental and emotional health.

"Many employers, insurers, healthcare providers, policymakers and medical practitioners have been cracking their heads for decades to create sustainable healthcare programmes focusing on preventive care and keeping the healthy people healthy.

"Unfortunately, over the years, many healthcare stakeholders have fallen into the trap of managing ‘sick’ care.

"This basically means treating people only when they fall sick and ignoring the overall factors leading to their illness," he says.

Making the switch to preventive care, rather than curative care, could not only keep us as individuals healthy for longer, but also reduce healthcare costs and increase productivity for companies.

Overweight and obesity, for example, is not only a medical condition by itself, but also a risk factor for many other chronic conditions, like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis and certain cancers.

Half of Malaysians (50.1%) are either overweight or obese, according to the 2019 National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) – with most of them being working adults.

However, this condition can be managed or prevented through simple lifestyle changes, and preventive care measures instituted by employers can play an important role in helping their employees make these changes, says Hazwan.

In exchange, companies stand to save a lot on healthcare expenses and prevent loss of productivity due to illness.

He notes though that many people and companies are reluctant to part with money to invest in preventive care as it is not covered by most insurance and healthcare plans (although some insurers offer personal incentives like food or retail vouchers for hitting certain health targets).Hazwan (right in this filepic) notes that the reality in Malaysia is that many companies cover their employees if they fall ill or get into an accident, but not many focus on preventive care. Hazwan (right in this filepic) notes that the reality in Malaysia is that many companies cover their employees if they fall ill or get into an accident, but not many focus on preventive care.

He explains: "Personalised preventive care focuses on delivering individualised care through lifestyle behaviour change, disease prevention and close monitoring of health-outcome metrics.

"This model studies the overall lifestyle aspect and risk factors of a customer through an enhanced patient-doctor relationship, and monitoring of a personalised preventive and wellness programme.

"According to a study in the United States, this model can improve health outcomes and reduce healthcare utilisation and expenditure within populations of employees, their spouses and their children."

He adds: "Personalised preventive care may include more frequent doctors’ visits, preventive immunisations, screenings, continuous monitoring and many specific programmes such as mental health, quit smoking and so on.

"Even though this sounds like an arduous undertaking by both patients and doctors, we are lucky to live in a highly-connected digital world where physical limitations and geographical boundaries are no longer an issue."

As a digital health platform, Hazwan says that DoctorOnCall is investing in the development of a data-driven model that will help optimise healthcare spending among employees in large organisations.

"We will then use this model to work with the employers to set up a personalised programme supported by the network of doctors, specialists, and other healthcare practitioners and services," he says.

"With a personalised preventive healthcare programme empowered by technology, employers can safely curb their healthcare spending, while providing the utmost convenience and access to the best doctors to their employees."

Hazwan will be further exploring this topic during his session titled Sustainable Healthcare Benefit: Exploring the impossible Through Digital Health on Wednesday (July 15, 2020) at the #workXhealth: Work-Life Wellness in the 21st century live virtual forum.

The two-day virtual forum on July 14-15 (2020), organised by Star Media Group, will cover areas such as work-life balance, lifestyle and social wellness, and mental and emotional wellness, as well as physical wellness.

Register here to attend online for free.

For more information, email events@thestar.com.my or call 03-79671388 extension 1187 or 1240.

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Healthcare , employers

   

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