The future of the Wellness Industry should focus on Oxidative Stress, since it affects more than 2/3 of adult Americans and many more around the World. The primary source of Oxidative Stress is the blood. Long-term, elevated levels of Blood Oxidative Stress or BLOS is thought to be an Asymptomatic Disease responsible for multiple health problems including Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, Atherosclerosis, and a greater risk of Cancers. In the United States, Oxidative Stress is responsible for an estimated $800B in annual health care costs. The current Wellness Industry programs fail at delivering a return on investment (ROI), since they do not focus on the root cause of many modern health problems.
Wellness Industry Should Focus on Oxidative Stress
The Rand Corporation evaluated Wellness programs and identified two distinct offerings with different ROI.
1st Type: Make the Employee Feel Good
The traditional Wellness program offers employees a number of benefits that focus on improving morale with little if any ROI. Encouraging employees to make healthier choices with respect to diet and exercise is great, but the financial gain is difficult to measure. Does the employee’s Lifestyle Choices prevent major health care problems in the future? This is a difficult question to answer, since weight or BMI are risk factors and not causes of health care problems.
2nd Type: Avoid the Emergency Room!
The second type of Wellness program focuses on identifying employees at risk of a major health problem. For these employees, this wellness program is a disease management program that reduces the cost of intensive medical care (that means Emergency Room visit). These plans don’t manage a disease. Instead, they provide a strategy to avoid the high cost of a catastrophic event. Periodic testing may reveal a significant change in the employee’s physiological state, which may lead to a major medical event (e.g., heart attack). Immediate medical attention for this employee may prevent the medical event and reduce the overall health care costs.
Are There Only 2 Types of Wellness Programs?
Is this the best that we can do? Should we wait for the cumulative effect of long-term poor Lifestyle Choices for an Asymptomatic Disease like Cardiovascular Disease to manifest as a major medical event? Is there a better way to structure Wellness Programs? Could there first type of Wellness Program that focuses on Life Style Choices be better with a ROI? (of course, read on!)