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Safeway Proves the ROI of Preventative Health Care

Published on July 7th, 2012 by in Uncategorized

Most corporations are spinning around in dismay about how to control the cost of health care benefits.  At the same time Safeway reports that their per capita health-care costs have remained constant.  They also report higher employee productivity and lower absenteeism.

In an innovative program called “Healthy Measures”, employees are offered lower healthcare premiums based on four criteria: tobacco usage, blood pressure, cholesterol levels and a healthy weight.  They credit this program and other preventative health measures for making a huge difference in employee morale and health.

Recently, Safeway has added a Diabetes Control Program as a trial for store customers in Tucson, Arizona.  Coordinated with the Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance (DPCA) this program offers diabetes education and trained pharmacists to assist the patient.  The goal is to reduce the risk of complications such as cardiovascular, kidney and eye disease.  In the participating stores, the pharmacist will test blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol and give instant results.  The immediate feedback makes it easier for customers to manage their condition.

This program is partnered with UnitedHealth Group as a part of their effort to provide better access to preventative resources and allow people to have better control of their own health.  With the pharmacist and nurse practitioners serving as personalized health coaches, the goal is to improve blood glucose levels.  For every point of percentage drop in a blood glucose marker (HbA1c), patients can expect a 40% risk reduction for complications such as heart disease, blindness, amputations and nerve damage.

Another program is being offered with the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program.  The initiative includes 16 core group sessions for those with a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  The core program is followed up with monthly sessions for up to one year.  This program is part of the National Diabetes Prevention Program led by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  This department of the CDC has the task of finding evidence-based interventions that can be brought into the community to improve health.

Law makers are noticing the initiatives taken by such individuals, companies like Safeway and non-profit organizations like the YMCA.  It seems hard to imagine that prior to 1998 Medicare didn’t cover basic preventative health screenings for cancer.  Now the department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been given the authority to expand the list of covered preventative services.  Some people on the hill say that we need to establish a national strategy for prevention that would include both educational and outreach programs.

In the meantime, companies like DECIDE Mobility offer an app to support preventative health behavior.  With a few taps, individuals will have access to the latest information about what can be done to stay healthy.

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