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Doctors Support Efforts of Employers and Health Plans to Improve Health of Patients
Date:3/15/2010

CHICAGO, March 15 /PRNewswire/ -- To better understand and improve the effectiveness of employer-based health improvement and management programs, the Midwest Business Group on Health (MBGH), conducted a national survey of physician views on employers' health management programs. The non-profit coalition of more than 100 private and public employers, today released the results indicating that 72% of doctors surveyed agree that employers should play a role in the health of their employees with chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease.

"Physicians have a great influence on a patient's decision to participate in employer-sponsored health management programs," said Larry Boress, MBGH president and CEO. "Employees trust their doctor above all others when it comes to their health. We will use the findings to help our members and their health plans create programs that actively include physician participation and hope to collaborate with doctors to develop programs that will improve the health of not only our members' employees, but also their communities."

Key findings

  • Most physicians support the efforts of employers to help patients, with 59% agreeing that employers should let doctors know about efforts to help a patient manage chronic disease
  • For medications, 46% agree employers have a role in helping patients improve their compliance
  • Only 32% of surveyed physicians felt that employers and health plans should play no role in the health of their patients, citing concerns such as "the employer doesn't know the patient" and "I don't want to lose control of my patient's care"
  • Regarding employer and health plan incentives, 82% of physicians support the use of incentives to motivate employees to manage their chronic disease and stay healthy
  • Just over 70% support the use of reduced or waived co-pays to increase medication compliance, with 62% supporting reduced or waived co-pays for medical care to increase medical visits
  • On the key question of what an employer or health plan would need to do to get a physician to encourage his/her patients to participate in employer health improvement activities: 61% of physicians wanted information on what the employer is offering to the patient so the doctor can counsel them on the value of participation; 49% asked to be sent patient clinical results collected at the worksite to reduce redundancies; 48% want actionable reports related to patients to assist them in treatment; and 47% believe that employer programs should be designed as an extension of the physician's treatment regimen which leave them in control of their patients
  • Physician recommendations for employers and health plans to increase engagement of employees included: communicating to physicians what their patients are doing in the company program; sharing lab data; offering programs, such as weight control, smoking cessation and healthier cafeteria food that don't invade privacy or practice medicine; and working directly with local chapters of primary care specialty societies to seek input and promote employer programs – not just health plan programs

"An increasing number of physicians understand that employers can be supportive in impacting employee health," said Jan Berger, MD, president of Health Intelligence Partners and medical director for MBGH. "That being said they do believe that any support given be coordinated with physician activity and that there be active communication between the employee, employer and the physician. This request is reasonable as it assures appropriate use of health resources and diminishes confusion. Communication is the foundation of good health."

The online survey, which was sponsored through funding from sanofi-aventis, was sent to over 1,000 physicians nationwide by cooperating medical associations, health plans and medical centers. More than 200 physicians participated in the survey.

MBGH has been active for several years in helping employers understand and address chronic diseases in their workforce populations. Employers are increasingly offering worksite programs and incentives to their diabetic employees to motivate them to take steps to manage their condition and adhere to their doctor's drug and medical regimen. MBGH regularly conducts surveys and focus groups of employers and employees on their perspectives of wellness programs, incentives and the need to motivate lifestyle changes. MBGH will release findings around employer research at its annual conference scheduled for May 6-7, 2010 in Chicago.

About the Midwest Business Group on Health (www.mbgh.org)

Celebrating 30 years of advancing value in health benefits management, the non-profit Midwest Business Group on Health (MBGH) is one of the nation's leading business groups of private and public employers. MBGH's more than 100 members represent over 2.5 million lives, spending more than $3 billion on health care benefits on an annual basis. MBGH offers employers a variety of health benefit educational seminars, networking opportunities, and quality and community initiatives. MBGH is a founding member of the National Business Coalition on Health.

SOURCE Midwest Business Group on Health

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