Simple Measures of Employees’ Subjective Wellbeing and its Potential Impact on Employers’ ROI from their Health Investments

by

Mitchell R. Weisberg, MD

Board Certified Internist

Clinical Psychopharmacologist

Chief Medical Officer, ViMedicus

 

Executive Summary

Somewhere in the labyrinth of our healthcare system, the simple question “How do you feel?” has gotten lost. Today, we are paying the price for this in unrealized human potential and corporate earnings. Increasing evidence in the literature shows a correlation between employees’ wellbeing and factors such as work performance, employee retention, and healthcare expenditures. 1, 2, 3 Ironically, employer based wellness programs have done nothing to measure or improve the wellbeing of the workforce and not coincidentally, they have been unable to show any significant ROI for employers. At the crux of the collective under-performance of these initiatives is the industry-wide adoption of the health risk assessment (HRA) as the compulsory entrée for employee participation in workplace wellness programs. A more detailed critique of HRAs is instructive for the road forward in workplace wellness. According to the recent Rand Corporation’s meta-analysis of workplace wellness programs, only 46% of those offered a wellness program completed an HRA, although in many instances, employees were given a financial incentive to do so.4 While the biometric data collected in a n HRA indeed measures health risks, arguably this   data has no correlation to participants’ subjective sense of wellbeing. Therefore, HRAs give no internal impetus to an employee to complete an HRA or to further engage in a wellness program if they do complete one.

As a Board Certified Internist in private practice for three decades, the author has earned the right to point out that the standard health risk assessment  brazenly abrogated the most fundamental rule of clinical diagnostics, best summarized by Albert Einstein, “If I had only one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem, and only five minutes finding the solution”. Expecting to begin with a person’s biometric data and reach meaningful solutions or outcomes for this person is the ultimate example of clinical naiveté. Obtaining a thorough patient history always precedes and rationally guides any physical examination or diagnostic testing; and a thorough patient history always begins with a detailed inquiry into the patient’s subjective wellbeing, commonly known as the patient’s Chief Complaint. This is just basic medicine. Thus, it is this veteran clinician’s assertion that the employees wellbeing is indeed the missing piece of the employer sponsored healthcare system as well as the employer based workplace wellness puzzles.

Contrary to seemingly everybody else on the planet, this doctor’s diagnosis for the healthcare crisis is not the cost, but rather, the productivity lost. The author posits that a person cannot perform better than he or she feels. When we describe our subjective sense of wellbeing, we are describing the current structure of our ever-changing neuroplastic state; and for every structure exists functional limitations. For example, if an engineer designed a bridge with a load capacity of 20 tons, try putting 21 tons on this bridge it fails. In its broadest terms, the author’s hypothesis states that the underlying structure of a human being’s current performance is his or her current neuroplastic state.

This author predicts that wellness programs that dispense with the standard HRA and opt instead to prospectively measure and improve employee subjective wellbeing will engage and activate those employees who have the most to benefit from their programs, cut Employers’ direct healthcare expenditure, absenteeism, presenteeism and employee turnover. The author has designed a progressive series of Employer based studies that he believes will lend support to his hypothesis and prove that something as simple as asking employees, “How do you feel?”, has the potential to disrupt the employer based healthcare system and workplace wellness spaces and thus optimize employers’ returns on their health investments.

 

Mitchell R. Weisberg, M.D., M.P.

 

  1. Overall Well-Being as a Predictor of Health Care, Productivity, and Retention Outcomes in a Large Employer.pdf POPULATION HEALTH MANAGEMENT Volume 16, Number 6, 2013 a Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. DOI: 10.1089/pop.2012.0114
  2. Evaluation of the Relationship Between Individual Well-Being and Future Health Care Utilization and Cost.pdf POPULATION HEALTH MANAGEMENT Volume 15 Number 6, 2012 a Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. DOI: 10.1089/pop.2011.0089
  3. Does worker wellbeing affect workplace performance_.pdf Alex Bryson, John Forth and Lucy Stokes, NIESR OCTOBER 2014
  4. Workplace wellness programs study S Mattke, H Liu, J Caloyeras, CY Huang… – Rand health …, 2013 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

 

 

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Your mission is to create a High-Performance Organization. You have invested significant capital and resource in attracting and retaining the talent that is the key to achieving your mission. You have come a long way in monitoring your employees’ performance in order to bench mark and reward your stars and find those employees whose performance is lagging and need attention such as performance coaching or a formal performance improvement program.

In spite of your efforts, you struggle with the fact that some of your employees’ performance is suboptimal, especially when considering the true potential you are certain he or she once had. Your frustration is not only about the tremendous financial toll from your Organization’s loss and replacement of a knowledge worker, but the human toll on the employee and his or her family.

As a Board Certified Internist and a Clinical Psychopharmacologist who has dedicated his 25-year medical career to optimizing the health, wellbeing and performance of his patients, I truly understand your frustration. More importantly, I have the knowledge and the unique skill-set to help your employees optimize their performance and meet their true potential once again or possibly for the very first time.

Would this relieve your frustration?

Mitchell R. Weisberg, MD, MP

Internal Medicine-Psychopharmacology-Performance Management

Founder-CEO

Optimal Performance MD LLC

Book Appointment with Optimal Performance MD in Skokie, Illinois

Source: Book Appointment with Optimal Performance MD

Mitchell R Weisberg MD is a Board Certified Internist and Clinical Psychopharmacologist in private medical practice in the Chicago area since 1990. Within his practice, Dr. Weisberg developed and honed a holistic clinical method he calls, Optimal Performance MD, by which he helps his patients optimize their health, well-being and performance.

In August 2017, Dr. Weisberg became the Chief Medical Officer at ViMedicus; a Chicago based Healthcare Services/ Technology startup. ViMedicus services self-insured Organizations creating solutions that combine healthcare intelligence, care coordination, and collaborative communications to empower service providers and help improve the lives of individuals with chronic conditions.

Dr. Weisberg did his Medical School and Internal Medicine training at Rush University in Chicago, where in 1991 he served as Chief Medical Resident in the Department of Internal Medicine. In 2006, Dr. Weisberg received his certification as a Master Psychopharmacologist (MP) from The Neuroscience Education Institute, Carlsbad, CA.  His unique credentials allowed Dr. Weisberg to serve as a Primary Care Neuroscience Consultant and Educator for Eli Lilly and Company, educating his primary care colleagues on the recognition and treatment of Depression, Bipolar Disorder and Adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in the primary care setting. In addition, Dr. Weisberg has maintained his Board Certification by the American Board of Internal Medicine since 1990 passing his re-certification examination in October 2014.Dr. Weisberg’s proudest achievement is each of the individuals he helped.

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