Corporate wellness insights

Disease Management vs. Physical Fitness

Posted by Matthew on 02.27.2017

disease management physical fitnessIn a recent opinion piece, Gary Cassidy, a fellow wellness executive, reminds us that when it comes to corporate wellness programs, it’s what’s on the inside that matters most.

Mobile apps come to market all the time to help people track steps taken, calories consumed, even sleep quality. But fitness apps only measure one aspect of an individual’s total health.

Cassidy argues that these apps, as helpful as they may be, don’t address disease management. Only doctor visits, along with interventions such as biometric screenings and health coaching, can do that.

To support this argument, Cassidy cites the results of Rand Corporation’s study of PepsiCo’s wellness efforts from a few years ago. It found that most of PepsiCo’s return on investment from wellness came from disease management. Wellness programs must therefore engage employees on two fronts: general wellness activities, plus disease management through biometric screenings and health coaching. Both aspects of PepsiCo’s program worked in tandem to form a more complete picture of their employees’ health.

Cassidy says the goal of a wellness program shouldn’t be to turn employees into athletes, but rather to make them healthier: “I submit that the goal of an initiative should not focus primarily on activities that promote being fit,” he writes, “but rather on creating a culture that focuses on FIT: health issues that are Found in Time. FIT relates to diseases and conditions that are discovered before they spiral out of control.”

I couldn’t agree more. You can’t expect every employee to run marathons, and that’s why we’ve always taken a holistic approach. We start with the basics: learning your numbers, understanding your risk factors, and working with experts to make lasting improvements.