2022 Ecosystem Predictions — Employee well-being will play a leading role in healthcare redesign in 2022

Predictions by Russel Greenfield

Senior Director, Whole Health Institute

The COVID crisis has dramatically revealed long-simmering problems for business communities and the nation that have now reached their boiling point – the costs of an unhealthy population and the associated system of healthcare that remains largely reactive. It is time to radically re-envision and redesign all the systems that impact human health and well-being, starting with an innovative shift towards employee well-being and risk reduction that emphasizes trained peer-to-peer facilitation. Empowering and equipping employees to take charge of their physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being supports becoming their best, most productive selves at work and at home.

Work and the workforce have forever been changed by the pandemic. Hybrid and flexible workspaces are becoming the norm, technology is helping to bridge gaps in the management of employee health risks, and non-medical benefits are becoming some of the most important drivers of employee well-being, as well as tools that strongly support recruitment and employee retention. Funds are increasingly being shifted away from programs that fail to engage and activate workers towards inspiring and effective programming that empowers, equips, and connects, and also offers employees the best value-based medical care. Employee well-being initiatives are becoming more authentic, actionable, and transparent about the employee, making them feel more valued and resilient – such a worker is best positioned to withstand both predictable and unforeseen future health risks and remain productive members of the workforce.

The Whole Health approach to employee well-being stems from a successful program initially launched across 18 Veterans Affairs Health Systems that is now expanding widely. The VA trained over 350,000 staff and Veterans in Whole Health principles resulting in a reduction in opioid use, increased patient engagement, and decreased employee burnout and resignations, as well as a 30 percent decline in health care costs over three years. Additional encouraging findings were that Veterans felt more engaged in their lives and self-care strategies, and that perception of their medical care had improved significantly. Over 140 VA sites have now incorporated elements of Whole Health Systems and are seeing benefits.

“Medical care accounts for only 20 percent of modifiable health outcomes – employee health is far more dependent upon health-related behaviors, as well as social and environmental factors.”

(Reference: American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2016;50:129-135.)

A core component of Whole Health Institute’s vision is coordinating efforts across multiple stakeholders, including innovative whole health startups, as a means of becoming a force multiplier in service to the health and well-being of employees, businesses, and the broader community. Businesses especially need to adapt and prioritize their employee well-being initiatives, stopping what doesn’t produce desired results and nourishing what does.

2022 Mantra: Imagine a day when the cost of healthcare is reduced so significantly that it is no longer crippling people, businesses, and our nation.

The vision of Whole Health is to empower and equip people to take charge of their physical, emotional, and spiritual health to live full and meaningful lives. Whole Health does this by educating communities and workplaces, convening and catalyzing thought leaders, and radically transforming health systems towards the ultimate goal of increasing overall well-being, and reducing clinical and pharmaceutical needs, chronic disease, and health costs.

The paradigm activates an innovative transformation of systems of healthcare and individual behaviors to achieve these optimal health outcomes at lower human and financial cost. The mission of Whole Health Institute is to make whole health available to all people in all communities. The goal is to create a national model starting in Northwest Arkansas. Whole Health Institute has been associated with Endeavor’s Northwest Arkansas and Tulsa office since August 2021.