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Companies that aid worker health also aid bottom line

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SAN ANTONIO—Companies that effectively manage the effects of worker health on their productivity are more profitable than companies that do not, research by the Integrated Benefits Institute has found.

And employers are blending a mixture of strategies derived from occupational injury management, health promotion and disease management to shorten disability durations, according to the San Francisco-based IBI survey that will be published in May.

IBI President Tom Parry previewed some of the survey's findings during the 2010 IBI/National Business Group on Health Health & Productivity Forum held Feb. 8-10 in San Antonio.

Using a scoring system based on the use of 12 popular health and productivity management practices, IBI found that publicly traded, for-profit companies had higher effectiveness scores than nonprofit governmental entities and privately held for-profit companies.

Moreover, the more profitable the company, the higher the health and productivity management effectiveness score, IBI's research showed.

Among the strategies employers reported as having the greatest effect on worker productivity are a mixture of those used in workers compensation and health management, according to the IBI survey of 482 employers.

For example, the leading two strategies—transitional return-to-work programs and early reporting of injuries—most often are associated with managing work-related injuries and are designed to shorten disability duration, Mr. Parry noted.

But rounding out the top 10 were an “interesting collection of practices from health promotion and disease management,” including use of on-site clinics, health risk coaching and referrals to specialists for care, Mr. Parry said.

“What this tells us is employers are getting at this productivity issue through a variety of different approaches that focus on promotion, disease management and disability management,” he said.

Complete survey findings will be published in May. Visit www.ibiweb.org for more information.