Next year I’ll be speaking for the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) on helping employers and employees manage the “Bermuda Triangle” (the intersection of Workers Comp Return to Work, the ADA, and FMLA). The ACOEM website has this to say about the concept of Health and Productivity Management (HPM):
“The American workplace continues to be at a crossroads. Global economic competition demands increased productivity; technology is rapidly influencing the dynamics of industries and marketplaces; and major demographic shifts are changing the face of the American workforce.
“At the same time, work-related illness and injuries continue to impose a tremendous burden. Each day, an average of 137 Americans die from work-related illness and an additional 17 die from work-related injuries. According to the National Safety Council, work injuries cost Americans more than $132 billion a year — or $970 per worker — in lost wages, lower productivity, higher health care expenses and other costs.
“Now a new factor — chronic disease — has entered the picture. As the percentage of older workers in the United States grows, it’s expected that chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer will cost employers heavily, as they provide medical benefits for employees and absorb the costs of long and short-term disability claims. One study found that of the nation’s $2 trillion in medical spending, 75% goes toward care for chronic conditions.
“Caught in the middle of this continuously evolving workplace, employers grapple with a growing issue: The impact of worker health on company productivity. As the link between health and productivity has been studied a new discipline has emerged, known as Health and Productivity Management.
“Simply defined, Health and Productivity Management, or HPM, is a concept which directs corporate investment into interventions that improve employee health and business performance. It can also be described as the integrated management of health risks, chronic illness, and disability to reduce employees’ total health-related costs, including direct medical expenditures, unnecessary absence from work, and poor performance at work — also known as “presenteeism.”
“A growing body of evidence suggests that worker health can be measured and managed more effectively for increased profitability and organizational effectiveness. More and more employers have begun to embrace this concept, as the relationship between the health of workers and the bottom line of American business has become increasingly clear.
“Proponents of HPM view the workforce as human capital, which should be managed with the same level of focus and interest applied in the management of financial capital. They recognize the value of managing human capital by focusing on health in the workplace environment. With healthier employees, companies perform better.
“At the heart of the HPM process lies the measurement of workplace health costs, accurate evaluation of the factors that are driving those costs, and the creation of health enhancement programs and strategies for workers. Occupational and environmental physicians can play a pivotal role in helping the workplace understand these concepts and the relationship between health and productivity.
“HPM promotes better individual health, which in the long term improves the overall health of our nation and the stability of our health care system. HPM becomes a win-win, benefiting both the employee and the employer.
“The bottom line: good health is good business, and HPM helps achieve both.”
Just as you need to use lawyers to help prevent HR risks at the front end, you want to use doctors to help prevent Workers Comp and other risks. My longtime friend, Dr. Russ Dunnum in San Diego, has shown companies how to save millions in health and Workers Comp-related overhead. He has also helped many employees in the process.
I would encourage you to go to the http://www.acoem.org/ website to learn more about how to use doctors more effectively in the front end of your business.