MedBen Worksite Wellness can help to take up where a physician leaves off. Because most family doctors have packed schedules, it leaves them precious little time for discussion following an examination – and in the case of a chronic condition like diabetes or hypertension, questions inevitably come to a patient’s mind after leaving the doctor’s office.
A worksite wellness nurse coach recently shared with MedBen a perfect example of how one-on-one coaching complemented a doctor’s care. The plan member’s name was kept confidential:
During an examination for an ear infection, the doctor noticed that the patient’s blood pressure was higher than normal. At a follow-up appointment two weeks later, the doctor diagnosed the patient with hypertension and started her on medication.
Following the initial exam, an RN Health Consultant contacted the patient to discuss her high blood pressure and address the patient’s questions about her condition. The RN also scheduled a second session to take place after the follow-up appointment.
During the second session, the patient said that she wanted more information on how to control her hypertension. The nurse provided education on diet and exercise, mailed information about the condition, and provided a phone number for a local exercise and weight management program. The patient thanked her for following up and was very appreciative for all of the information provided.
Even with a wealth of health information available on the Internet, there’s no substitute for professional consultation. With MedBen Worksite Wellness, patients get the best of both worlds – a physician-first approach to personal care for chronic conditions backed by a team of RN specialists ready to address questions and concerns. To learn more, contact Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MedBen is pleased to be the premier sponsor of the 2013 Granville Turkey Trot (GTT). This 5K fun run/walk, which takes place on the morning of Thursday, November 28, is Licking County, Ohio’s biggest single-day fundraising event. Over 2,000 Turkey Trotters, fans and volunteers are exected to attend!
The GTT benefits the Food Pantry Network, which is dedicated to acquiring, storing, and distributing nutritious food to the financially deprived and otherwise needy members of Licking County. Event organizers hope to raise $65,000 to help feed hungry people in the community.
If you’d like to help – and, in the process, burn off a few calories before settling down for Thanksgiving dinner – you can sign up as a participant online. Adults are $30 and children (6 - 13) are $10 if you pre-register – a $5 discount off race-day registration. Plus, pre-registration guarantees that you will receive the popular Turkey Trot t-shirt.
Or you can register as a “virtual runner” without leaving the comfort of your (or your in-law’s) home. You can donate any amount you want and support the Food Pantry. (Did you know that a dollar buys 25 pounds of food, or 25 boxes of cereal, or even more than 25 cans of vegetables and fruit?)
GTT organizers are also looking for volunteers to help register participants, hand out water, and so forth. Anyone interested in contributing a few hours of their time to this worthy cause is encouraged to sign up online.
Thanks to everyone who takes part in this fun event!
Diabetes has become a global epidemic, with one out of every nine adults currently affected. Moreover, about one-third of people who already have the disease are unaware of it.
When the pancreas produces insufficient amounts of insulin (type 2 diabetes) or none at all (type 1), excess glucose in the blood can severely damage other organs. There is no known way to prevent or reverse type 1 diabetes, but proper diet and exercise can significantly reduce your risk of developing type 2.
If you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, MedBen Worksite Wellness can help. An RN Health Consultant will contact you to offer customized counseling. Should you choose to use the service, you will get individualized, confidential disease monitoring on a scheduled basis. You’ll also be given educational materials and other resources.
Because diabetics often visit many specialists in addition to the family doctor, daily management of the disease can feel overwhelming. Our RN Health Consultants can provide an additional avenue of support when you need it most. And through weight loss and lifestyle coaching, you can potentially reverse your type 2 diabetes to the point where medication is longer required.
Among the things MedBen has learned from offering a worksite wellness program is the beneficial effect of individual wellness coaching. Through one-on-one interaction with plan members who have certain specific diseases or risk factors, our team of RN Health Consultants have helped them to make crucial lifestyle changes.
A nurse coach with our wellness program recently shared this wellness episode with us (keeping the plan member’s name confidential), which demonstrates how positive reinforcement aided a woman with serious health issues:
Two years ago, a 48-year-old employee with hypertension and high cholesterol was contacted by an RN Health Consultant to offer individualized coaching. Repeated follow-up calls were scheduled, during which the RN monitored her progress and provided counseling and education.
On the most recent call, the employee told the RN that she had lost over 50 pounds through diet and exercise. Her doctor cut her blood pressue medication in half and she no longer takes cholesterol medication.
As the nurse notes, the specialized wellness coaching worked because it was done in combination with the plan member regularly seeing her family doctor. By offering a source of information and support while encouraging a “physician-first” relationship, worksite wellness can help plan members manage their condition or remedy it altogether. And healthier employees translates to a more productive workforce.
To learn more about how MedBen Worksite Wellness is benefiting employees and employers alike, contact Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at email@example.com.
On Friday, October 18, MedBen will be closing at 12:00 p.m. EST for a companywide recognition event. We will reopen at 8:00 a.m. EST on Monday, October 21.
Although our client service departments will be closed early that day, you can still get answers to many of your questions online:
Also keep in mind that MedBen.com offers resources frequently requested by customers, such as a list of FSA-eligible expenses and instructions for reading EOBs. We designed our recently revamped website to make these and other materials simpler to find – just select the “Plan Sponsors” or “Plan Members” button on the home page, depending on your specific needs.
We frequently mention on this blog how MedBen’s Worksite Wellness program takes a “physician-first” approach – members are encouraged to use their family physicians as gatekeepers of care, rather than relying upon impersonal onsite checkups. We find that by maintaining a doctor-patient relationship, members are more likely to practice healthy habits while reducing their risk of developing a chronic condition.
But there’s another way this partnership pays dividends. Simply put, it saves money… for plan members as well as the employer.
If a doctor detects a disease in its earliest stages, it can potentially mean a difference of hundred of thousands of dollars in medical costs. Moreover, as physician Richard Young, MD relates on his blog, a family doctor who knows your medical history can also advise you whether a medical course of action is worthwhile:
“[A] patient said to her family doc, ‘My CPAP technician said I need a new CPAP machine and a new sleep study.’ The family doc asked her a few questions, then said, ‘You don’t need a new machine or a new sleep test.’ The patient was comfortable with this conclusion, best I could tell.
“Think about it. He made no extra money for saving the greater system several thousand dollars. He did not get a cut of the insurance money that wasn’t spent[…] He talked her out the unnecessary test and treatment just because it was a core value of his.”
A primary care physician that cautions against unnecessary care, Young notes, offers a “hidden source of savings that doesn’t appear on an insurance company analysis or Medicare report.“ Likewise, a wellness program that enourages plan members to establish a family doctor relationship at the outset in turn promotes a healthier bottom line for the employer.
For additional information about MedBen Worksite Wellness, contact Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Specialized nurse coaching for plan members who may be at risk for certain conditions is a key feature of MedBen’s Worksite Wellness program. And sometimes, a single session can have a life-altering effect.
A nurse coach with our wellness program shared the following experience with us (the identity of the plan member remained private):
A 55-year-old employee, whose employer had just added MedBen Worksite Wellness to its health care coverage, was encouraged by the nurse to get her first colonoscopy. During a follow-up conversation with the nurse several months later, the employee reported that she recently underwent a screening.
“My doctor found one benign polyp and one cancerous, Stage 1 polyp,” she told her coach. “They are going to do a colectomy next month.
“Thanks to my wellness program it was found before it spread further.”
As this anecdote shows, timely screenings can help to detect cancer in its earliest stages, thereby preventing a more serious condition – and more costly care – down the road. In fact, a recent Kaiser Permanente study found that regular colonoscopies can sometimes reduce the risk of death from colon cancer by nearly 70%.
Selected employees and dependents entered into MedBen’s Specialty Care Program receive guidance through customized education and counseling. The nurse coach contacts the plan member via phone, letter or e-mail, and schedules periodic follow-up calls on a regular basis. The service is voluntary, and information obtained by the coaches is not reported to the employer.
To learn more about how worksite wellness can improve the health of all of your employees while saving your business money, contact MedBen Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at email@example.com.
It is not precisely clear what causes breast cancer. Research has suggested age, gender and estrogen exposure may contribute. While anyone can get the disease, older women are at a greater risk.
Non-invasive (stage 0) and early stage (I and II) breast cancers have a better prognosis than cancer in its later stages (III and IV), and can typically get treated at a much lower cost – sometimes, hundreds of thousands of dollars less. Screening is the best way to find breast cancer in its earliest stages, and the most effective method is an X-ray of the breast called a mammogram. Visit your gynecologist regularly and have an open discussion about what tests you should be having.
One key to proper prevention – and, in turn, keeping your health care costs down – is knowing when your next test is due. That’s where MedBen Worksite Wellness can help.
MedBen Worksite Wellness plan members can track their mammogram compliance by visiting MedBen Access. To see recommended screening dates, or double-check if you missed a test, simply go to medben.com, click on “MedBen Access” and select the “iHealth Information” link under “My Plan”. MedBen Worksite Wellness also provides annual guidelines for cancer prevention and early detection, personalized for age and gender.
MedBen follows American Cancer Society guidelines that state women over 40 years of age should get annual mammograms – guidelines the organization has stood by even after the federal government’s controversial recommendation that women can wait until their 50s to begin screenings. And a new study appears to support the ACS’s judgment.
According to MedPage Today, the study of 7,300 breast cancer patients found that 71% of death from the disease occured in younger women with no history of mammography or with intervals of 2 years or more between mammograms. Median age at diagnosis of fatal breast cancer was 49, as compared with 72 for women who died of other causes.
“Even with effective adjuvant therapies, the best method for women to avoid death from breast cancer is to participate in regular mammography screening,” the authors concluded. “Regular screening increases the likelihood of detecting nonpalpable cancers, and annual screening further increases the likelihood relative to biennial screening.”
“Furthermore, detecting and treating breast cancer in younger women to prevent death may further increase the disease-free life years saved,” they added. “Our findings suggest decreasing the intensity of efforts to screen women older than 69 years while concomitantly emphasizing efforts to screening young women in particular.”
Female members of the MedBen Worksite Wellness program can monitor their compliance with mammograms and other critical wellness examinations by visiting the MedBen Access website and clicking on the Wellness Plan link under “My Plan”.
Could a no-copay checkup mean the difference between high and low blood pressure? Possibly, a new survey finds.
According to the Associated Press, Kaiser Permanente in Northern California monitored patients with high blood pressure over an eight-year period (2001-09). In that time span, the proportion of patients who had their blood pressure under control went from 44% to 80% – well above the national average. The number of heart attacks and strokes in the group also fell substantially.
The researchers point to two factors they believe played a role in the program’s success:
“Patients really liked it because it was shorter, more convenient and more affordable,” said Dr. Marc Jaffe, the lead author and leader of a Kaiser heart disease risk reduction program. Jaffe acknowledged that it’s impossible to know if the blood pressure program can be credited for the declines in heart attacks and strokes, but he thinks it at least contributed.
The benefits of “good” cholesterol don’t stop with a healthier heart. It’s also is an effective cancer-fighter, a new study finds.
According to the Health Hub, researchers at Cleveland Clinic conducted tests on mice using a protein called apolipoprotein A1 (apoA1), a major component of HDL, the so-called good cholesterol. Intrigued by apoA1’s power as a cardioprotective agent, the team dwelved into other potential benefits – specifically, its ability to prime the immune system to fight off cancer.
The research showed that mice that had the apoA1 protein were more resistant to tumor growth and survived longer than their apoA1-lacking counterparts. More importantly, results show that direct injection of apoA1 as a therapy into mice with existing tumors and metastases not only inhibited the growth of tumors and the spread of malignant melanoma and lung cancer, but promoted regression of existing tumors and metastases.
“This is another example of where research in one field can yield exciting new discoveries that could benefit an entirely new pool of patients,” said Stanley Hazen, MD, PhD, section head of Preventive Cardiology at Cleveland Clinic’s Heart and Vascular Institute.
A Gallup poll released this week reports that 58% of Americans believe it’s okay to charge a higher health insurance rate to smokers, but only 41% agree overweight people should be charged more.
According to MedCity News, the reason that many Americans are okay with charging a higher rate to smokers is likely because so many American are overweight. Only 1 in 5 adults smoke.
This coming October, the Affordable Care Act will give states the option to charge higher rates to individuals that smoke, but does not allow them to charge higher rates to overweight individuals. Even so, the higher smoking rate is based on the honor system – and the policy cannot be canceled if later it was revealed that an individual is a smoker paying nonsmoker rates.
Many groups are outraged that carriers can charge more to smokers. Cigarette producers, the American Cancer Society and advocates for the poor and minorities believe that the extra charge singles many smokers out, and can actually produce an adverse effect on individuals purchasing policies.
“We don’t want to create more barriers to quitting,” said Dianne Phillips, policy director for the Cancer Action Network in Pennsylvania, a state that will permit insurers to charge higher rates to smokers. “Making it more expensive (might) put insurance coverage out of their reach.”
Retail clinics at pharmacy and department store chains are a growing business – and it’s a trend that has some doctors concerned. While acknowledging their usefulness for minor ailments, the recent announcement by Walgreens that their clinics would diagnose and manage chronic conditions led Kevin Pho to question whether drugstore clinicians should double as primary care physicians:
“Consider the population most likely to have chronic conditions: Medicare patients. A New England Journal of Medicine study found that they already see an average of seven different physicians a year. Seeking care at a drugstore adds another provider, and further fragments care. According to Dr. Jeffrey Cain, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, ‘it is more difficult to comprehensively manage a patient’s care if they are treated in multiple settings.’
“Indeed, I find managing diabetes or high blood pressure is far more effective after developing a relationship with patients and getting to know their individual preferences over time. Patients who go to retail clinics are more likely to see a rotating set of providers. And rather than personalize treatment, they follow standardized medical protocols to abide by the American Medical Association’s retail clinic policies.
“Poor sharing of medical information also fuels fragmentation. Electronic record systems of hospitals within blocks of each other often cannot speak to one another, let alone with one from a retail clinic. It’s unlikely that a drugstore provider can access a patient’s medical record, which would mean starting care from scratch.”
On the Cleveland Clinic Health Hub, ophthalmologist Jeffrey Goshe, MD offers some “do’s” and “don’ts” for safe contact lens use.
DON’T sleep in your contacts. “Almost every study of contact lens-related infections found a strong link between the risk of infection and sleeping in contacts,” says Dr. Goshe.
DO wash your lenses and case properly. Never rinse your contacts with tap water or stick them in your mouth. Rather, clean them with contact lens solution, and clean and dry your case each day.
DON’T wear your lenses past their recommended use. “Some people say they wear them until they feel like they need to be changed,” says Dr. Goshe.“But that’s a sign that something bad has already started to happen.”
DO establish a relationship with an optometrist and stick with him or her. When you jump around from doctor to doctor, you won’t have continuity of care that’s necessary to track your eye health over time.
DON’T ignore the warning signs of infection. “If you are experiencing pain, redness, blurriness or light sensitivity, your eyes may be having a problem that requires medical attention,” Dr. Goshe says.
DO get an eye exam annually. People may not realize that the fit of their lenses can change throughout their lives, and an annual check-up can determine if adjustments should be made.
To help your employees stick to the contact lens “do’s", MedBen offers a group vision plan that promotes regular exams and early detection and treatment of visual impairments. We also provide the highest quality contact lenses at extremely affordable prices, as well as eyeglass franes and lenses.
For additional information about MedBen VisionPlus, contact Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration has supported approval of the experimental drug riociguat to treat two types of pulmonary hypertension, Reuters reports. The agency typically follows such recommendations.
Produced by Bayer, riociguat is designed to treat chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension, a rare disease typically caused by blood clots that restrict the flow of blood from the heart to the lungs. The drug would be used for patients who are not candidates for surgery to remove the clots.
It is also designed to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension, in which arteries of the lungs constrict, forcing the heart to work harder. Symptoms of both conditions are similar and include shortness of breath, fatigue, weakness and potential heart failure.
Dr. Stuart Rich, a panel member and professor of medicine at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, said he was impressed with the apparent ability of a 1.5 milligram dose of the drug to increase cardiac output, or the volume of blood pumped by the heart per minute.
If approved, the drug would be sold under the brand name Adempas.
Is the term “cancer” overused nowadays? Absolutely, a group of medical experts argue.
In a Journal of the American Medical Association editorial, an advisory panel to the National Cancer Institute states that only the lesions that typically kill if left untreated should be classified as cancer. In cases where the lesions pose no immediate danger, patients should be told they have an IDLE disorder, the authors write. IDLE is an acronym for “indolent lesions of epithelial origin,” which is also a synonym for their lazy behavior.
According to USA Today, the panel contends that overdiagnosis of cancer leads to overtreatment – an opinion shared by Dr. Otis W. Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.
“The truth be told, this is very much kind of like racial profiling,” Brawley said. “It looks like what killed somebody 160 years ago, but that doesn’t mean it is going to grow, spread and kill. It may very well be genomically programmed to stay just a 5-millimeter lesion for the next 70 years.”
In a separate interview with NPR, Brawley also noted that by renaming non-threatening lesions, it would help doctor and patient alike understand the true level of the risk.
Dr. David Penson, the senior author, advised that physicians closely monitor slow-growing tumors, rather than treating them as a lethal cancer. “Whether you are using a term like IDLE, indeterminate or indolent, if you take away the word ‘cancer,’ people get to see things a lot differently,” Penson said.
As often happens when a public figure has a medical issue, its treatment undergoes media scrutiny. Such was the case yesterday when it was announced that former president George W. Bush received a stent to clear blocked arteries in his heart.
USA Today reports that stenting is fairly common, with about one million Americans a year getting the procedure. And because placing stents is a much less invasive procedure than open heart surgery, it’s a preferable – and less risky – option.
However, as we’ve previously noted on this blog, such procedures are sometimes unnecessary. A 2011 study found that one in eight U.S. patients who have non-emergency stenting procedures are likely to see more harm than good from the procedure.
A spokeman for Bush said that even though he not been experiencing symptoms commonly associated with a cardiac event, such as chest pain, the stent was necessary.
To encourage cost-effective, safe, and integrated care management for patients affected by cardiovascular disease, MedBen provides a clinically accountable solution: Comprehensive Cardiovascular Care Management. From review of patient medical status and alignment with medically necessary care to pre-negotiation for cost management opportunities, this program is a completely integrated resource that that promotes positive patient outcomes.
To learn more about Comprehensive Cardiovascular Care Management, contact MedBen Vice President of Sales & Marketing Brian Fargus at email@example.com.
Taking antioxidant supplements won’t improve the chances of women who are trying to get pregnant, a new review shows.
According to HealthDay News, an analysis of 28 clinic trials that included a total of 3,548 women attending fertility clinics found that inactive placebos or standard treatment, including folic acid, proved just as effective as antioxidant supplements
“There is no evidence in this review that suggests taking an antioxidant is beneficial for women who are trying to conceive,” lead researcher Marian Showell, who works in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Auckland, in New Zealand, said in a Cochrane Library news release.
On the plus side, the trials that looked at harmful effects of antioxidant supplements suggested that taking then doesn’t appear to potentially endanger women. But the researchers did note that antioxidants and other dietary supplements are unregulated and there is limited evidence on their safety and effects.
While there seems to be a general consensus that our population as a whole could be in better shape, that reality hasn’t motivated the United States to step up obesity-prevention efforts on a national or local level, says a report from the Institute of Medicine.
HealthDay News reports that compared to other countries, America’s investment in the crisis “is too sporadic, presenting serious barriers to understanding the impact of interventions and the need for future investments,” according to a news release from the institute, which advises the federal government on health issues.
The institute report also said current national monitoring of these programs and policies lack adequate leadership, coordination, infrastructure, guidance, accountability and capacity. Moreover, local communities lack the necessary resources to evaluate the scope of obesity problems or develop and monitor obesity-prevention efforts.
“This report is most important,” said Dr. Mitchell Roslin, chief of obesity surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “Sadly, it will find that current efforts are not working, especially in economic-challenged areas.”
For obesity-prevention programs to have an impact, “more funding and tough choices will need to occur,” Roslin said.
Americans say they’re more concerned about living healthy lifestyles, particularly in regard to their weight and diet, according to a new survey.
USA Today reports that the survey, conducted for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), found 58% say they’re paying more attention to personal health issues than in the past, and eating a healthy diet (57%), maintaining a healthy weight (54%) and reducing stress (45%) are their top concerns.
“What we’re really measuring is a feeling here, rather than a calculated prediction,” says Geoffrey Garin, president of Hart Research Associates, which conducted the survey for PhRMA. “The feeling is, even if my health isn’t great today, I have the potential to turn all that around.”
At MedBen, we believe that a key to changing health for the better is partnering with a primary care physician to track conditions and provide care and counsel when needed. That’s why our Worksite Wellness program emphasizes the doctor-patient relationaship.
Additionally, MedBen uses claims data to detect important health patterns. With useful progress reports and online services that help members keep on top of their testing.