The numbers don’t lie

The American Institute for Preventive Medicine (AIPM) in Farmington Hills, MI, can do more than just claim self-care programs save money; it has the numbers to prove it. At Florida Hospital Medical Center in Orlando, a self-care program produced dramatic savings. In the initial study, self-care guides from AIPM were given to 365 employees.

In a second study, 436 additional guides were distributed. After a period of five months, questionnaires were sent to employees to determine whether they used the guide, and if they did if it helped them avoid physician visits and/or emergency department visits. (See example of self-care questionnaire, below.)

In the first study, the researchers were able to determine in that in four months, savings of $30,954, or $84.81 per employee, were achieved. In addition, 15% of the employees said the guide prevented absences from work; the total number of lost days avoided was 73. In the second study, the average savings were $29,369, or $67.34 per employee, and 95 days of absence were avoided. (See chart, below.)

Chris Arvin, MS, sales and marketing manager for the Center for Occupational Health at Bloom-ington (IN) Hospital, is a firm believer in the value of self-care. "Part of my job is to coordinate a pretty extensive employee wellness program for both our own employees (2,600) and private companies in the community as well," he explains. "Our program has been in place for four years, and as part of that program we have always done self-care training. I knew from my background that self-care was the cornerstone of any employee health program."

All hospital employees who sign up for the wellness program are given AIPM’s Health at Home self-care guidebook. "At orientation, we do a short training session. We show a little video, show employees how to use the book and go through some sample cases," Arvin notes.

Employees avoid ED visits

Employee surveys show an overwhelming number of "yes" responses when workers are asked if they have avoided a trip to the ED by using self-care techniques, says Arvin. "We’ve seen solid savings in self-reported data both through avoided trips to the ER and doctor visits," he notes.

In addition, he says, hard dollar expenses have been confirmed through a modifiable claims audit, which compared a group of employees who participated in the self-care program with a group who did not. In fact, the program is so successful that Arvin uses it as a role model when "pitching" outside companies. "We take our outcomes and go to local employers, and we’ve had several who have followed our lead and purchased the self-care book for their employees as well," he says.

[For more information, contact: Chris Arvin, MS, sales and marketing manager, Center for Occupational Health, Bloomington Hospital, P.O. Box 1149, Bloomington, IN 47402. Telephone: (812) 353-3429.]