Occupational illnesses Research/studies Worker health and wellness Musculoskeletal disorders

Disease management programs can lower costs of some conditions: study

Minneapolis – Disease management programs can help lower employer costs and reduce hospital stays for workers who have certain health conditions, including asthma, musculoskeletal disorders and congestive heart failure a recent study from the University of Minnesota indicates.

Researchers examined a disease management program for university employees and dependents over six years. They found health care spending was lowered for patients with asthma, cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure, depression, musculoskeletal disorders, low back pain and migraines.

The program also decreased hospitalizations related to all of those conditions except congestive heart failure. “Avoidable” hospitalizations decreased for asthma, depression and low back pain.

However, the program did not lower costs for diabetes, arthritis or osteoporosis. Researchers found no effect on work absences for any condition.

When selecting a program, employers should focus on conditions that could lead to lowered costs, the researchers concluded.

Disease management programs are designed to teach patients about their condition and help them manage it. Elements of a program can include call centers, health risk assessments, web-based tools and monitoring devices. The University of Minnesota program uses telephone-based coaching.

The study was published in the February issue of the Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine.