Employer wellness programs that combine laboratory and biometric screening with digital behavioral counseling can significantly reduce employees’ risk of developing chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, according to new research from Quest Diagnostics (NYSE: DGX), the world’s leading provider of diagnostic information services. The data was presented at the 78th American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) Scientific Sessions in Orlando.
The analysis examined three years of de-identified laboratory and biometric test results for at-risk employees and spouses or partners enrolled in an employer-sponsored wellness program who also participated in a digital intervention program. Following the program, one third (32 percent) of participants whose initial tests results showed evidence of prediabetes (fasting glucose (FG) 100-125 mg/dL or hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) 5.7-6.4 percent) or diabetes (FG ≥126mg/dL or HbA1c ≥6.5 percent), achieved normal blood levels.
Twenty-nine percent of individuals lost five percent or more of body weight. As well as reductions in levels of FG and HbA1c, other improvements included a significant drop in triglycerides, a maker of heart disease risk and a reduction in the ten-year risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
U.S. employers currently provide health insurance to an estimated 153 million employees and absorb most of the associated costs for employees’ care.
“Many employers are eager to implement employee wellness programs that drive better health and cost outcomes, but are unsure of how best to achieve these goals. This study demonstrates a viable two-step solution – identifying people at higher risk using objective lab and biometric measures and then supporting their access to programs to modify behaviors and thereby reduce those risks,” said lead researcher Charles E. Birse, PhD, Scientific Director, Quest Diagnostics.
The cohort of 107 at-risk individuals participated in a 16-week digital Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) focused on education and behavior modification offered by Omada Health, a digital behavioral medicine company focused on chronic disease prevention, through a collaboration with Quest Diagnostics. In May 2018, Omada Health‘s Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) achieved full recognition status from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) after meeting rigorous quality and evidence criteria.
Chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease are major drivers in year-over-year increases in employee health benefit costs, which increased 24 percent between 2001 and 2015, and are estimated to increase up to 6.5 percent in 2018, according to a 2017 analysis by Willis Towers Watson.
“Workplace wellness programs are the only meaningful interaction many people have with the healthcare system, but it’s the employers who foot most of the bill for care costs,” said Jay Wohlgemuth, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer, Quest Diagnostics. “This study demonstrates that a population management strategy that combines screening with targeted intervention can meaningfully improve health outcomes and, ultimately, lower costs for employers and their employees.”
Heart disease and diabetes are two of the most prevalent chronic conditions. According to the CDC, more than 80 million Americans have pre-diabetes; about 25 percent develop Type 2 diabetes within five years. Heart disease is responsible for one in four deaths in the United States.
Quest Diagnostics is a leader in Health and Wellness services that improve outcomes and costs for employers and their employees. The company combines data-driven population management based on its proprietary Blueprint for Wellness® laboratory and biometric screening with integrated access to intervention providers, supporting employees’ on the continuum of care to better health. For more information, visit www.QuestForHealth.com.
Quest Diagnostics empowers people to take action to improve health outcomes. Derived from the world’s largest database of clinical lab results, our diagnostic insights reveal new avenues to identify and treat disease, inspire healthy behaviors and improve health care management. Quest annually serves one in three adult Americans and half the physicians and hospitals in the United States, and our 45,000 employees understand that, in the right hands and with the right context, our diagnostic insights can inspire actions that transform lives. www.QuestDiagnostics.com.