Study Sheds New Light on the Impact of Medication Adherence, Multiple Chronic Diseases and Health Risks in the Workplace
CHICAGO, June 16, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — A new study suggests that while medication adherence is a critical element in reducing the impact of illness, employers should view it as just one of multiple components that are needed in strategic employee disease-management initiatives.
The study, published this week in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (JOEM), suggests that individual health risks and comorbidity – that is, the presence of more than one chronic disease – remain significant predictors of reduced workplace productivity, even in a population with a high rate of medication adherence. The study found significant links across the population studied between high health-risks and lower job performance, while comorbidity was a significant predictor of absenteeism in five of the study’s nine subsamples.
Researchers gathered data from more than 64,000 workers with chronic health conditions, spread over five employers, making it one of the largest studies of its kind. The analysis evaluated the impact of medication adherence, comorbidity, health risks and other factors on markers of workforce productivity such as absenteeism and job performance (also known as “presenteeism”). The research was coordinated by a team from the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM), Alere Health, and the Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI), and was funded by the National Pharmaceutical Council (NPC).
The study corroborates previous evidence linking the number of comorbidities in employees with their level of absence from work.
“Our analysis suggests that to be most effective, workforce health and productivity initiatives require integrated prevention strategies,” said Ron Loeppke, MD, MPH, FACOEM, vice president of ACOEM and lead investigator of the study. “These include primary and secondary prevention, such as wellness and screening services, as well as tertiary prevention, such as medication adherence and disease management.”
“Employers should understand that every individual presents a unique combination of health risks and comorbidities, and they should be wary of focusing on single diseases or one-dimensional approaches as they assess worker health,” he said.
The study is a follow-up to a 2009 study by the same group titled “Health and Productivity as a Business Strategy,” which suggested that employers’ health-related lost productivity costs for chronic diseases are significantly higher than their medical and pharmacy costs. The 2009 study recommended further research on the impact of medication adherence on lost productivity.
While more investigation is needed on the connection between health-risk status, comorbidity and medication adherence on productivity, the authors said the study strongly supports the need for employers to manage the growing impact of chronic disease on their workers.
“Our earlier study demonstrated that chronic health problems are costly for employers and must be taken into account,” said Vince Haufle, MPH, senior healthcare analyst for Alere. “This study offers further support of that finding, while demonstrating that comorbidities and health risks are a more important part of the equation than many employers may realize. The findings highlight that comprehensive services are needed to help improve worker health and manage costs.”
Thomas Parry, Ph.D., president of IBI, noted: “While the cost and impact on productivity from chronic disease continues to rise in the workplace, it’s important to remember that chronic health conditions, in many circumstances, are preventable. That’s why continued research and better understanding of chronic conditions are essential to workplace productivity, and why prevention should be a foundational underpinning of our national efforts aimed at this problem.”
To access the JOEM study, visit the JOEM website.
Note to editors/reporters: A complimentary copy of the study is available to credentialed reporters upon request. Please call 847-475-1283.
About Alere Health: Alere Health is the health management services business of Alere Inc. (previously Inverness Medical Innovations) Alere, a Latin verb, meaning “to care for” or “to support,” offers the most patient-centered health management services available from a single provider in the industry. Alere provides health interventions that cover an individual’s entire lifespan, from pre-cradle to end-of-life care, as well as the continuum from wellness and prevention, including total health management of individuals with chronic illnesses. Alere’s continuum of services begins with preconception, pregnancy, NICU and first year of life services; continues with lifelong programs focused on health, wellness and the management of chronic conditions such as heart failure, COPD, and asthma, up to the complex care management required at end-of-life. For more information regarding Alere, please visit www.alere.com.
About ACOEM: The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) represents the nation’s physicians specializing in occupational and environmental medicine. Founded in 1916, ACOEM is the nation’s largest medical society dedicated to promoting the health of workers through preventive medicine, clinical care, disability management, research, and education. First published in 1997, Occupational Medicine Practice Guidelines is leading source for evidence-based guidelines used by occupational physicians and other health care professionals. For more information, visit www.acoem.org.
About IBI: The Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI) provides employers and their supplier partners with resources for demonstrating the business value of health. As a pioneer, leader and nonprofit supplier of health and productivity research, measurement and benchmarking, IBI is a trusted source for benefits performance analysis, research-based approaches, and forums for information and education. IBI’s programs, resources and expert member networks advance understanding about the link between – and the impact of – health-related productivity on corporate America’s bottom line. For additional information visit: ibiweb.org.
About NPC: The National Pharmaceutical Council is a health policy research organization dedicated to the advancement of good evidence and science, and to fostering an environment in the United States that supports medical innovation. Founded in 1953 and supported by the nation’s major research-based pharmaceutical companies, NPC focuses on research development, information dissemination, and education on the critical issues of evidence, innovation and the value of medicines for patients. For more information, visit www.npcnow.org.
SOURCE Alere Health; ACOEM; IBI; NPC