The Death of Wellness ROI
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I’m going to do something radical here. I’m throwing “ROI” out of my vocabulary – at least from a worksite wellness perspective. Before you discredit the rest of this blog post, let me explain myself.
Employers who are actively seeking a wellness program, or already have one in place, are doing themselves a disservice by pigeonholing the success or failure of a program to ROI. I’m going to challenge all of you to think beyond ROI and look to the VOI of a wellness program to determine its success. By VOI, I mean value of investment. So, the question I know you’re asking is…“Ok, that’s great, Jill. Now, how do you measure VOI?” And for that question, I have answers.
Value of investment can be broken down into the following four buckets:
- Population Health Improvement: How’s the program moving the needle in terms of actually improving employee health? For this, we can look to biometric data, health assessment results, and personal success stories to gauge our progress over time.
- Healthcare Utilization & Cost: How’s the health plan performing over time? For this (depending on your group size) you can glean tremendous insight by looking at hospital admissions, primary care or preventive visits and diagnostic categories (such as claims for diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, etc.). Of course, we’re also able to track and measure cost per member.
- Productivity: How productive is your workforce and how does on-the-job performance measure up? For this, you can explore disability claim trends, absenteeism and workers’ compensation claims.
- Other: How are immeasurables stacking up? This bucket contains values such as reputation, morale, recruiting and retention, satisfaction and community involvement. These are definitely harder to measure, but often mean the most.
As you can see, the success of a wellness program can go far beyond ROI. Unfortunately, using ROI as a form of measurement isn’t as black and white as a lot of people think or wish it was. If employers are implementing a wellness program solely for ROI, then I don’t believe they’re doing it for the right reason.
Measurement is a critical component for continuing to make the business care for wellness. However, we can no longer look to healthcare costs alone as our only measuring tool. Why? You can’t always measure what matters, and everything that you measure doesn’t always matter.
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