The workplace can be an important intervention point to improve individual health outcomes. From providing improved health benefits to helping reduce work-related stress, employers play a powerful role in supporting the health of their employees. However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to health needs, and there is no one right way to help all employees’ health. To have the greatest possible impact across the greatest number of employees, it is vital that employers have a strong understanding of what tools they can implement to support all their employees, especially those navigating hard-to-manage chronic conditions.
Chronic conditions, like obesity and diabetes, can significantly affect people at work, resulting in fatigue, physical/cognitive limitations, and productivity loss. Your employees living with these chronic conditions may be interested in exploring new options and possibilities. GLP-1 medications that promise a new way forward for those living with cardiometabolic disease are growing in popularity and demand. There is no doubt that GLP-1s can be a critical tool in the management of these diseases, but they work best as an addition to altering long-term habits and must be viewed as a tool in a much larger toolkit of overall health plans.
As an employer, you can provide the tools and resources your employees need to responsibly navigate this new era of medications. Here are three things you should consider to support your employees:
#1: Offer access to integrated, personalized healthcare
Offering access to personalized care has never been more important, especially as weight loss drugs like Wegovy are gaining traction. People may not understand the full extent of these types of medications, including the long-term effects, implications and costs for them.
While these new medications may look promising, they should not be taken in a silo. Stress, sleep, nutrition, and physical activity must also be taken into account. Ensure that your health benefits plans include offerings that encourage connected, whole-person care. If your employees have access to an integrated care team – including a provider, a health coach, a nutritionist, and a mental health coach – they can better understand all of the factors that impact their personal health.
Before starting any new health regimen, plan, or medication, individuals must understand how it will impact and be impacted by other aspects of their unique health risks and conditions. More than 40% of adults in the US live with two or more chronic conditions, which underscores the need for an integrated, whole-person care approach to healthcare. Utilizing personalized care plans lead to better health outcomes across cardiometabolic health risk factors associated with obesity, prediabetes, diabetes, and hypertension.
#2: Encourage building relationships with their care team
Appointments with physicians, nutritionists, and mental health professionals may seem time consuming and nearly impossible to juggle for your employees. Not everyone will have the luxury of taking the time to meet with a care team as often as they should. As a result, they may jump into these medications as a “quick fix.”
As an employer, consider offering virtual care solutions that can provide convenient and accessible touchpoints with the healthcare system, all from one place. The easier it is for your employees to access appointment scheduling and their health information, the higher the chance is that they meet their care team more frequently and ultimately establish vital relationships. Plus, they won’t need to take so much time away from their work and their families to commute to doctor’s offices. Your employees will thrive, and so will your organization.
#3: Understand the value of data for a personalized health experience
Every person is unique – what works for one person may not work for another. When individuals are considering or starting new treatments, no two people will react to medications and health plans in the same way. Using technologies that help bring all your health data to one place for your care team enables them to understand how the individual’s overall health is being affected by these medicines.
Find a partner that understands the importance of data and how it can drive personalized engagement. For example, our approach at Teladoc Health is relying on our data science engine to deliver an individualized experience – through member journeys, engagement options, and human-based interactions with our coaches and provider-based teams. We can then send our members in-the-moment nudges to keep them on track of their health goals. That personalized approach, coupled with our large repository of data that we’ve built over time, has allowed us to deliver effective engagement, with a 90% retention rate after 12 months and reduced A1C levels sustained for 5+ years.
Many of your employees are grappling with chronic disease, as nearly half of the population in the US suffers from at least one chronic condition1. The good news is there is more promise and potential to treat it – but it will take support, time, and education. Employers have a unique opportunity to step up, empowering employees to make key lifestyle changes to improve their lives.