Health and Productivity Management Strategies on the Rise

June 27, 2006 ( - Integrated Benefit Institute's (IBI) most-recent report of the 2004 experience of 624 benefits professionals shows that 56% of respondents either have a health and productivity management (HPM) strategy or plan to have one in place in the next year.

According to a report brief, 85% of large employers have or plan to have an HPM strategy, and 45% of small employers are adopting a strategy to manage their employees’ health and productivity.

An additional 30% of respondents say that even without an HPM strategy they adopt at least one of three significant HPM practices, including:

  • An integrated return-to-work program,
  • The same medical guidelines across benefits programs, or
  • The same medical management for return to work goals whether in workers’ compensation or group health.

For those employers with an HPM strategy, top practices adopted are a mix of pre-condition prevention, post-condition management and education. Most, 76%, have adopted employee assistance programs (EAPs) that may serve all three roles, the brief said.

Other top practices adopted include:

  • Employee benefits education – 70%,
  • Wellness prevention – 63%,
  • Nurse case management and disease management – 58% each.

On average small employers adopt almost six practices in their HPM strategy, and large employers have eight practices in place.

Two-thirds of IBI’s respondents believe there is a strong link between employee health, productivity and the bottom line, according to the report brief. Respondents who are more likely to assert a strong relationship between health and the bottom line also adopt an HPM strategy. However, the top driver of having an HPM strategy (chosen by 83% of respondents) is the reduction in health care costs. Reducing the growth in overall benefits payments (including absence and disability along with medical) was the second highest rated driver, chosen by 67% of respondents.

The most common reason for not adopting an HPM strategy given by survey respondents was inadequate information about the costs and benefits of adopting one.

The full research report can be downloaded from here .