Quick Summary: More employers are inviting outsiders to take part in their health promotion efforts, infusing fresh perspective and promotion into their programs. In the fight against rising health care costs, some companies are helping themselves by getting help from others.
Increasingly, firms are engaging with local organizations and business leaders, inviting these “outsiders” to take part in activities such as onsite health fairs, health improvement research projects, and more. Much of this work is being performed in conjunction with business health coalitions, but individual employers are also taking leading roles.
Working with the community on health promotion can help inform current and future employees, says Dr. Charles Smith, a principal at New York–based professional services firm Towers Perrin. He says some employer efforts, such as doctor and hospital report cards, are intended to foster consumerism in the health care industry.
Here’s the Gist
An employer promotes health to the community at large, leveraging the expertise of other local professionals. When that employer seeks to add to its workforce, local prospective employees are more likely to have knowledge about how to be a better health care consumer and thereby lower the company’s health care costs.
That ideal is taking hold. For example, the National Business Coalition on Health recently entered into a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta to pair member coalitions with public health agencies so they can collaborate on community health initiatives.
Also, a government program spearheaded by Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael O. Leavitt is encouraging employers to become involved in community health improvement efforts via the Chartered Value Exchange program, which enables them to gain access to performance information from Medicare that gauges how well physicians treat patients.
To encourage health-related collaboration from other businesses in your community, keep this insight in mind:
- Be the driving force of collaboration. It usually takes a “champion” for a health-related cause to give joint efforts a spark.
- Craft a specific message. Instead of promoting a vague cause, such as “improving the health of our citizens,” tighten your focus. Some possible missions: increasing the affordability of medications by boosting use of generic drugs, increasing the number of people who sign up for cancer screenings, and helping people cook meals with less fat and cholesterol.
- View yourself as a community citizen. When companies combine their efforts to promote health, it means all parties have ownership and a role in helping the community.
- Get a roster of companies that belong to your local Chamber of Commerce. Call or email your HR colleagues there to see if they’d like to collaborate on a health-related project. Employ the expertise of firms outside the health industry, including public relations agencies and event-planning groups.
- Piggyback off the current initiatives of public health agencies, and ask them how you can join their cause.
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