Disease Management Programs

Editor's Note: Offer employees disease management programs to promote health.

Ashley ShawOverview: As part of their employee benefit programs, employers can offer disease management programs as a way to reduce health care costs. The programs target specific chronic illnesses (such as diabetes or cancer) that might be affecting a big chunk of the workforce. Enrolled employees might be offered wellness tips, counseling, appointment reminders or informational hotlines aimed at controlling their disease.

Employers who are considering a disease management program will not be given medical information on particular individuals, but information can be collected in the aggregate. Through this collective portrait, employers can get an idea of what chronic diseases the population is suffering from the most.

When a disease management program is offered, it is important to continuously evaluate the program to measure its success. This includes the employees' perception of the program, the effect it has on health care costs and the overall rate of the disease's prevalence in the workplace. A lot of the effects of the program will only be realized after years of effort so employers should not expect results overnight.

Trends: With the ever-rising cost of health care and the confusion of health care reform, managing diseases and keeping them from taking over lives are advisable preventative measures. Disease management programs are a useful tool for employers to achieve these goals.

Ashley Shaw, J.D., Legal Editor

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HR guidance on creating and running disease management programs.