Wellness Service Lines Boost Hospital Revenue

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media , August 18, 2010
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Community-focused programs generate both direct and indirect benefits.

Healthcare professionals understandably take pride in their ability to heal the sick. But more and more, healthcare leaders recognize the need to focus on preventive measures to ensure optimum outcomes. Wellness service lines are becoming more sophisticated in this growth area. In the 2010 HealthLeaders Media Industry Survey, for instance, 41% of CEOs say they expect growth in their wellness/ bariatric service line.

As a result, hospitals are developing innovative projects for wellness programs, such as partnerships with communities, to improve patient health and establish a brand, all with the potential benefit of boosting the bottom line.

Wellness service lines are being launched at a time when the federal government is pushing prevention and wellness efforts to improve the nation’s overall health and reduce healthcare costs. In the wake of healthcare reform, the White House has proposed spending $1 billion to improve an array of programs, among them wellness initiatives, to prevent the onset of chronic disease, including illnesses associated with obesity.

Nearly two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight and nearly one third of that group is obese, which can lead to diabetes, kidney failure, cancer, depression, and heart disease.

While experts say more data needs to be obtained to evaluate the long-term impact of wellness programs, numerous workplace and healthcare surveys show that employers and workers believe such programs help cut healthcare costs. With millions of uninsured Americans becoming enrolled in insurance programs under healthcare reform, the potential for wellness programs is even greater.

A study of workers at health insurer Highmark Inc. shows that a comprehensive employee wellness program results in positive ROI. The study, performed by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, says that healthcare expenses per person per year were $160 less for each wellness program participant.

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