Health and wellness have become the buzzwords in the workplace.
Employees are making their health and well-being a key area of focus, with 62% of respondents in a recent Paychex survey strongly agreeing or agreeing that employee well-being support and benefits are a top priority when applying for or considering a job.
Companies are taking note, too. Earlier this year, Harvard Business Review predicted that wellness would become the newest metric used to understand employees.
And a Gallup poll extolled the benefits of employee well-being: “When your employees’ well-being is thriving, your organization directly benefits,” Gallup proclaimed, in the form of fewer sick days, higher performance and lower rates of burnout and turnover.
The takeaway: When the well-being of a company’s workforce suffers, so does its bottom line.
But well-being isn’t limited to employees’ physical health. Mental and emotional well-being are priorities for companies and their team members, too. A survey conducted earlier this year by HR.com found that 57% of respondents ranked mental health in their organizations’ top five list of HR priorities. COVID-19 undoubtedly was a contributing factor, with a sharp rise in the number of Americans reporting depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions as a result of isolation, financial strain and the stress of losing a job during the past nearly three years.
Thankfully, there is a promising elixir to these health issues. It’s called integrated health care. And while it is not new, the concept is misunderstood or, in some cases, not embraced by healthcare providers and companies.
By definition, integrated care brings together multiple people — physicians, specialists, clinicians, pharmacists and others — who collaborate in the best interest of patients. At its core, it’s about treating the “whole” person, knowing that the mind and the body are inextricably linked. It’s also about addressing the issue at hand while uncovering the true source of a patient’s pain or discomfort.
Think about the newly diagnosed diabetic who is overwhelmed by the complexity of this new diagnosis triggering a mental health episode, or the individual whose depression or anxiety contributes to a chronic physical condition such as high blood pressure or heart disease.
While integrated care makes healthcare more accessible for patients, it also improves their health outcomes by treating the mind and body as one instead of in silos. Communities also reap the rewards of integrated care through Federally Qualified (community) Health Centers that ensure care for underserved and vulnerable populations regardless of their ability to pay.
Businesses stand to benefit from adopting an integrated model of care, too. After all, companies that foster a culture of well-being are sending a message to their workforce: We care about you. This can become a competitive advantage for retaining and recruiting employees in a fiercely competitive labor market.
Productivity also is a consideration. Employees who are healthy physically, mentally and emotionally are more effective, engaged and satisfied in their jobs. And they undoubtedly will be more committed to contributing to their companies’ missions and bottom lines.
Finally, there is the cost. In its 2021 study, Gallup reports that 75% of medical costs accrued are due to preventable conditions. There is also the cost of turnover and lost productivity — $322 billion globally due to employee burnout.
By integrating physical and mental health services, companies can realize cost savings for employees with acute or chronic conditions.
As a family medicine physician and chief medical officer of Terros Health, my goal is to help patients on a path to total well-being. For them and their employers, integrated care is a proven model for achieving this goal.
Dr. Vanna Campion is the chief medical officer at Terros Health, a healthcare company focused on the whole person, providing primary care and specializing in mental health and substance use treatment for more than 50 years.