Corporate Wellness Programs: Do They Work?

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<p>More employers are launching wellness programs to encourge healthy behaviors among their workers and control health care spending. But can these initiatives deliver on their promise? </p><p>In the new issue of <em>Health Affairs,</em> Commonwealth Fund–supported researchers led by Gautam Gowrisankaran, Ph.D., report on their study of <a href="/publications/journal-article/2013/mar/hospital-systems-wellness-program-linked-health-plan">one wellness program</a> begun in 2005 by a St. Louis hospital system. Their findings show a substantial decrease in hospitalizations for targeted conditions, but they also reveal that the associated cost-savings were counterbalanced by increased spending for prescription drugs and outpatient care, not to mention the costs of the program and incentives themselves. At least in the short term, it appears that while wellness programs may improve employee health and productivity, they're unlikely to lead to substantial reductions in health care spending. </p>
<p>Also in <em>Health Affairs</em>, Geoffrey Lamb, M.D., and his team discuss how <a href="/publications/journal-article/2013/mar/publicly-reported-quality-care-measures-influenced-wisconsin">public reporting</a> on ambulatory care measures spurred physician groups participating in the Wisconsin Health Care Quality Collaborative to implement targeted interventions that led to better performance. And in another Commonwealth Fund–supported study, Valerie A. Lewis, Ph.D., and colleagues investigate the best approach for <a href="/publications/journal-article/2013/mar/attributing-patients-accountable-care-organizations">assigning patients to accountable care organizations</a>—so that their performance in controlling costs and delivering quality care can be accurately assessed.</p>
<p>Visit <a href="/publications/journal-article/2013/mar/hospital-systems-wellness-program-linked-health-plan"></a> to learn more. </p>