Providing a Way For Employees To Manage Hypertension Will Pay Off For Employers In the Long Run

Byron Crowe

By Byron Crowe, MD, chief medical officer, Solera Health.

Chronic disease remains a leading cause of disability and death in America. With 40% of adults experiencing two or more chronic conditions, the clinical and financial burden of these conditions are widespread and accounts for reduced life expectancy and $4.1 trillion in annual health care costs.

Hypertension in particular is a widespread public health concern given its clear linkage with cardiovascular and kidney disease. The CDC estimates that nearly half of U.S. adults – 116 million people – have hypertension, contributing to hundreds of thousands of avoidable deaths from cardiovascular disease each year.

The cost of hypertension for employers and employees

Employers can expect to have large numbers of individuals with hypertension, with some portion experiencing major complications such as heart attacks and strokes every year. In addition to the human toll taken by uncontrolled blood pressure, hypertension-related employee absenteeism costs employers roughly $10.3 billion annually. Not only are employees with high blood pressure four times more likely to die from a stroke, but it puts them at significant risk for developing cardiovascular diseases, leading to $1,100 in lost productivity annually.

When an employee suffers from hypertension, the medical costs are up to $2,500 higher annually than those who do not. Additionally, about $29 billion is spent yearly on blood pressure prescriptions, including $3.4 billion in out-of-pocket spending. Managing conditions like hypertension can be costly and extremely difficult – especially in conjunction with intersectional diseases and symptoms.

But the time and money spent by each party do not have to be significant. By driving sustainable lifestyle modifications, ensuring medication adherence, and offering accessible and continuous care, digital solutions can help address gaps in hypertension care by meeting the diverse needs of both employers and employees.

Empowering all parties

Living with a chronic condition impacts a person’s daily life. Because about 75% of people who suffer from hypertension do not have their blood pressure under control, employers must provide their employees with means of accessing and managing their health.

Digital point solutions can help address major gaps in hypertension care by providing employees with:

Data can then be shared with a health care provider, allowing doctors to have a clear view of a person’s blood pressure history. Such evidence-based solutions allow payers and employers to offer personalized and convenient health care.  More and more employers and health plans are including digital health solutions as a key aspect of their benefits strategy, offering an ever-expanding suite of  programs and health management solutions that give staff and members more leeway in terms of the treatments they can choose from.

Hypertension management is an integral part of any ecosystem of health solutions, and the broader suite of digital programs can be efficiently managed using a platform and network approach. Organizations can partner with a high-performing digital health platform solution that both curates and manages networks of leading health programs. In doing so, they can efficiently deliver a broad set of top-notch, accessible care tailored to individual needs. Moreover, sophisticated platforms can create linkages between programs like hypertension and related conditions such as diabetes and obesity, allowing for easy access to and coordination between multiple programs. Employers and payers should opt for an approach that addresses whole-person health and bridges hypertension care with other intersectional chronic conditions.

The long term

When employers offer their employees digital solutions that provide an opportunity to manage their health proactively, everyone wins. Patients get individualized support through a combination of medical devices, intelligent technologies, and mobile applications that engage, inspire, and motivate them to make it a part of their daily journey towards healthy living. When patients can receive their care immediately and with early intervention, it can reduce the need for costly acute care in the future. Getting ahead of hypertension and creating a space where employees can create a sustainable, healthy lifestyle can generate enormous value to individuals and organizations. In turn, employers will have a healthier workforce capable of carrying the organization forward for the long term.

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