Research Updates

Pain or gain

Hannah Bourne

Research shows that health improvement programs are both physically and financially successful.
Take Home Messages:

Disease management programs can provide:

  • A positive return on investment; and
  • An overall decrease in health-related costs for employees.

These programs aimed to improve the health of those which chronic hearth failure and multiple diseases.  Further research is needed to investigate whether similar courses for other health conditions are also financially beneficial.

Why the research matters:

Illness is a source of significant financial burden.  Therefore, programs aimed at improving the health of workers may reduce health-related costs for employers, as well as employees.

However, it is important to investigate whether the savings created by such programs are greater than the cost of running them in determining whether they are financially worthwhile.

What the research involved:

A review was conducted to investigate the financial impact and return from disease management programs.  These disease management programs provided healthcare education to people with medical conditions.

An online search of the literature found 44 studies which looked at disease management programs for asthma, congestive heart failure, diabetes, depression, and multiple illnesses.  The review then analysed the results of these studies to provide a comprehensive overview of the topic.

Summary of research findings:

The review found that:

  • Overall, programs directed at chronic heart failure and multiple disease conditions were associated with a positive return on investment, meaning that the program saved more money than it cost to run;
  • Diabetes programs may save more than they cost, but additional studies are needed;
  • It is unclear whether asthma management programs are associated with a positive return on investment; and
  • Depression management programs cost more money to run than they save in medical expenses, but may save money if the overall increase in workplace productivity is taken into account.
Original research:

Return on investment in disease management: a review.

Goetzel RZ, Ozminkowski RJ, Villagra VG, Duffy J.

Health Care Financ Rev. 2005 Summer;26(4):1-19.

Link to PubMed abstra