CORE launches study on employee wellness

Researchers at the Center for Outcomes Research & Education (CORE) will investigate the impacts of an evidence-based wellness program used by thousands of public employees.

As of 2019, 84% of large employers offering health benefits also offered a workplace wellness program, up from about 70% in 2008. Across sectors, employers turn to these programs to support employee wellness and productivity, while also seeking to address the rising costs of employer-provided health care. However, past research has shown mixed results when it comes to wellness initiatives' ability to drive measurably better outcomes and reductions in healthcare costs.

Building on CORE’s past research into the State of Oregon’s public employee Health Engagement Model (HEM), a new evaluation will look at the HEM's impacts on healthcare utilization, as well as an evidence-based employee wellness program called Healthy Team Healthy U (HTHU). Since 2013, thousands of state employees have participated in the program, which aims to create “healthier minds, healthier bodies, and a healthier workplace.”

CORE’s prior research linked the overall HEM to statistically significant cost savings of $38 Per Member Per Month (PMPM), driven primarily by less inpatient utilization (e.g. hospital stays). However, we also found that those savings were concentrated among older, sicker, and more expensive members.

This new evaluation brings five years of additional data that CORE will use to evaluate the impact of participating in HTHU on a range of outcomes, including participants’ health and health behaviors, as well as impacts on health care utilization. CORE will use claims data, surveys, and interviews to take an in-depth look at HTHU participants’ outcomes over time alongside a matched comparison group of employees who did not participate. The project is expected to last 15 months. 

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