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World Heart Day: 3 ways employers can cut cardiovascular disease costs

By Accolade | September 29, 2022 | 4 min read

What can we do to look after our hearts and the hearts of others? This is the question the World Heart Federation brings to the spotlight every September 29 in recognition of World Heart Day. This global event unites the community to fight against cardiovascular diseases (CVD) — including heart disease and stroke. CVD are the world’s leading cause of death, claiming 18.6 million people per year[1] and are among the top three most expensive condition groups employers face.[2]

The cardiovascular health of U.S. employees costs $363 billion annually. This includes $216 billion in direct medical costs and nearly $147 billion in indirect costs such as lost productivity and absenteeism.[3] Fortunately, there are several ways employers can show their people they care about their heart health, while also showing some love to their company's bottom line. By offering virtual primary care with integrated mental health along with implementing advocacy and providing wellness programs, your employees’ health will improve and CVD healthcare spending will decrease.

Help your people get on the right path to prevent CVD through advocacy

Traditional advocacy solutions ignore access issues. They tend to focus on members who are already down a care path by engaging them after high-cost events, such as a stroke or heart attack. Our advocacy and navigation solution recognizes that it’s imperative to catch people in all the moments of their healthcare journey. By being mindful of initial health risks, it enables us to connect and keep people on the right care path early on.

Our personalized healthcare solution helps your people overcome common barriers to care — like not being able to find a doctor — and get the most out of their benefits, easily and effectively. Through an easy-to-navigate, personalized healthcare experience, Accolade provides the best possible care. Our engagement approach reaches employees of all risk levels and stays connected with them throughout their healthcare journey. A recent study showed that 91% of Accolade members stated it is easy for them to access a high-quality doctor or hospital. Just 73% of non-members said the same.

Preventative care is important for cardiovascular health

Preventative care is an important part of overall health, and it can help improve heart health as well. Risk factors for CVD include:

  • Cholesterol

  • Diabetes

  • COVID-19

  • Physical inactivity

  • Stress

  • Tobacco use

By visiting a primary care physician (PCP) on a regular basis, patients can control their risk of heart disease factors through screenings and other preventative services. They help identify these potential problems early on and allow for earlier treatment and prevention of heart disease and other cardiovascular issues.

However, not everyone has an established relationship with their doctor. Approximately 65 million Americans don’t have easy access to a PCP and delays in primary care can increase costs and impact outcomes. Those who lack a physician tend to use high-cost urgent care or specialists more frequently.

Accolade Care, our true virtual primary and integration mental health solution, bridges this gap by making these services accessible no matter where the individual lives, and no matter their scheduling constraints. Our collaborative model helps build long-term relationships between providers, specialists and the people they serve. Using innovative technology, we’ve eliminated silos to help share data between each provider and specialist — from diagnoses and treatment dates to prescriptions and follow-up requirements. Plus, we have an expansive network of mental health therapists, who work together with nationally recognized primary care physicians. The result is a complete view of a person’s healthcare needs and improved health outcomes.

Wellness programs help employees by promoting healthy habits and reducing stress levels

With people spending more of their waking hours working than any other activity, the workplace should be a prime place to help your people make positive changes to improve their cardiovascular health. By encouraging employees to take care of themselves both physically and emotionally, you can improve their productivity and reduce healthcare costs. Typical wellness programs include offerings such as:

  • On-site fitness centers

  • Smoking cessation programs

  • Weight loss support

  • Annual biometric screenings

Employers who offer wellness programs see reductions in healthcare costs and improvements in employee productivity. For example, one study found that employers saw an average reduction in healthcare costs of $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programs and absenteeism costs fall by about $2.73 for every dollar spent.[4]

Creating a healthier workforce can be done through small gestures like serving fresh fruit and water bottles at meetings rather than bagels and donuts — or they can be more complex like ensuring flexible schedules to give people the opportunity to exercise before, during or after work hours. Encouraging and making it easier for your employees to take care of themselves both physically and emotionally can help reduce stress levels.

While it is important to shine a light on CVD on World Heart Day, employers can show they care every day by implementing solutions and plans to improve employee health year-round. If you would like to learn how Accolade can help reduce healthcare costs, please contact a representative today. We also invite you to read more about our integrated virtual primary and mental healthcare solution, Accolade Care.

[1] https://world-heart-federation.org/world-heart-day/about-whd/

[2] https://www.businessgrouphealth.org/en/who%20we%20are/newsroom/press%20releases/2023%20lehcspds

[3] https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/about/costs/index.htm

[4] https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/10.1377/hlthaff.2009.0626

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