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wellness digest — week of june 20

June 27, 2011

in wellness digest

a recap of last week’s news that caught my interest.

1. mckinsey releases insurance-survey data; more controversy ensues

it ain’t over until 2014. maybe that’s the way to talk about the future of employer-provided insurance. this article pulls together reactions to mckinsey’s recent survey.

“Perhaps you recall that McKinsey report a few weeks back saying that nearly a third of employers might drop healthcare benefits when the healthcare overhaul takes effect. The report itself was the subject of many headlines. Then came the reaction from the White House and other supporters of the overhaul. That garnered more headlines—and a demand for McKinsey to explain its methodology.”

2. workplace health programs get $10 million

workplace wellness is getting quite the boost from the government. companies can offer greater financial incentives, thanks to the new health care reform legislation. now the U.S. department of health & human services has announced the availability of $10 million for companies that provide evidence-based workplace wellness programs.

“Funds will be awarded through a competitive contract to an organization with the expertise and capacity to work with groups of employers across the nation to develop and expand workplace health programs in small and large worksites. Participating companies will educate employees about good health practices and establish work environments that promote physical activity and proper nutrition and discourage tobacco use—the key lifestyle behaviors that reduce employees’ risk for chronic disease.”

3. why health care works better than disease care

dean ornish, MD, writes about our persistent (and often misguided) faith in medical intervention over lifestyle changes in this atlantic article.

“Yet studies have shown that comprehensive lifestyle changes work better than drugs, for preventing type 2 diabetes as well as for treating it. The complications of diabetes—heart disease, eye damage, nerve damage, kidney damage, impotence, gangrene—are preventable when people can control their blood sugar by making lifestyle changes without medications.”

4. apps let patients view insurance on smartphones

this article from american medical news brings you up to speed on current and future mhealth developments in the insurers’ world. these are meant to serve both employee/patient and provider.

“Kling gave a few examples of things Humana would like to accomplish. They include: helping physicians communicate in a secure environment as an alternative to sending text messages, suggesting appropriate coding to ensure physicians are paid what they’re entitled to, and perhaps sending physicians messages alerting them to ‘gaps in care,’ such as when a patient is due for a mammogram.”

5. mhealth: aetna pushes ahead with new SMS texting service to help members with diabetes management

aetna already offers some interesting mhealth tools. with this new service, it adds a proven text-based health intervention to disease management services.

“Participants will receive short text-based messages on their mobile devices over a three-month period. These individuals will then be subsequently evaluated on how well they follow several best-practice measures of diabetes management.”

6. keeping score on how you take your medicine

prescription medicine is costly, beyond the fulfillment cost. far too many people skip their medications, don’t take them as prescribed or stop too soon, and that derails or negates health improvements. now FICO offers a score, similar to a credit score, that could change all that.

“But which patients are likely to take their prescription medications correctly and which ones are likely to deviate from the plan? FICO, a company whose credit score is widely used to assess the credit worthiness of millions of consumers, is planning to answer that question. It has developed a new FICO Medication Adherence Score that it says can predict which patients are at highest risk for skipping or incorrectly using prescription medications.”

bonus: the pursuit of happy

i defy you to visit “the pursuit of happy” and not leave a bit cheerier. i personally find this low-cost, low-tech site addictive. i keep coming back for a joy refill.

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