The Near Fatal Heart Attack blog post by Dr. David Bernstein

The Heart (Attack) Matters

In my blog earlier this month, I wrote about my consultant Thomas who had a near fatal heart attack. He had multiple risk factors which were not being treated. The reasons his imminent heart attack presented as a surprise might be because Thomas did not take advantage of preventive medical care or the wellness program his employers offered. Other considerations include the employers not publicizing the program, not making it convenient and easy to use, or not providing any incentive to use it.

Thankfully, Thomas has responded well to the medical intervention and is back to work. He has also adjusted his eating and exercise lifestyle.

His health scare was unnecessary.

With good preventive care, physicians and other care healthcare providers diagnose conditions and provide treatment options.

Let’s not forget the cost involved by not taking a preventive approach. I have estimated health system charges of $100,000. His health insurance will not pay this entire amount. Thomas will be responsible for a portion. He will miss time from work too. Both of these expenses are often overlooked. One must also consider the emotional stress on family members and the time they could not work because of the desire to support Thomas in the hospital.

Here is some information about the benefits of wellness programs for both employers and employees. Wellness programs can help to reduce health care costs, improve employee productivity, and boost morale.

Wellness programs make a difference.

Here are some specific studies that support these claims:

  • Harvard School of Public Health study: Published in the journal The Lancet, this study found that employees who participated in a wellness program were 15% less likely to have a heart attack or stroke. The program also saved the employer an average of $2,600 per employee per year in healthcare costs.
  • Kaiser Family Foundation study: In the journal Health Affairs, this study found that employers who offer wellness programs save an average of $250 per employee per year in healthcare costs. The programs can lead to a 3% reduction in absenteeism and a 2% increase in productivity.
  • Society for Human Resource Management study: This study found that employees who participate in wellness programs are more likely to be loyal to their employer and engaged in their work. Having surveyed over 2,000 employees, they found that those who participated in wellness programs were more likely to say that they were satisfied with their job, stay with their employer, and were productive at work.
  • University of Pennsylvania study: Published in the journal Human Resource Management, this study found that employees who participated in a wellness program were 30% more likely to be engaged in their work. In addition, it saved the employer an average of $1,200 per employee per year in turnover costs.

Wellness incentives make a difference too.

Another idea is for employers to develop incentives for better health and wellness.

  • Incentivize employees to utilize wellness benefits by making them easy to access and understand. They can also offer discounts on health insurance premiums or gift cards for employees who participate in wellness programs.
  • Create a culture of wellness in the workplace by providing resources and support for employees who want to make healthy lifestyle changes. This could include offering on-site fitness classes, providing healthy snacks in the break room, or sponsoring health fairs.

Being proactive works!

Employees participation in corporate-offered wellness programs reap tremendous benefits!

  • Wellness programs can help to improve their health and well-being. Benefits may include reduction in stress levels, improve sleep, and increase energy levels.
  • Wellness programs can also help to prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. This can save employees and employers money on health care costs in the long run.

Employers: If you have a wellness program reaching a satisfactory engagement by employees, congratulations! But if you have not established wellness programming, consider offering one.

Employees: I urge you to take advantage of the wellness programs that you are entitled to … it’s for your benefit. If none exists, have a conversation with leadership to explore possibilities for integrating wellness programs in the company for the health of it!

Together, as a team you can gain a greater understanding of what can be done to promote a healthier work environment for all employees and especially for you!

I would love to hear from you about your journey into wellness.

To a long and healthy life,

David Bernstein, MD

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