Ah, fall. Crisp clear days, crackly amber leaves and the dreaded annual health risk assessment. Sure, some people don't mind being weighed at work (people whose idea of relaxation is running 10 miles, then eating two pounds of baby carrots), while others (um, me) view stepping sock-footed onto a scale during the workday as a harrowing indecency. But I get it. Knowing my health risks makes me more likely to work toward reducing them, saving my employer money and making me a more productive employee.
But what if the concerns aren't physical, but emotional? What if overwhelming stress or intractable sadness aren't detected in a standard risk assessment? What happens then?
More than 86 percent of hospitals in 2011 had employee health and wellness programs, according to a report from the AHA's Long-Range Policy Committee, and they often included an employee assistance program, or EAP, that can address emotional well-being. But more than half of all employers (not just hospitals) don't include mental health screenings in their wellness programs, reports the Disability Management Employer Coalition, which means they are missing an opportunity to head off a condition that not only increases the chance for physical ailments (see our cover story, Page 8) but also can tank employee engagement.
Of course, hospitals need engaged employees like never before. All the benefits that engagement yields — increased innovation, higher productivity, fewer safety incidents, better customer service — are essential to surviving payment reform. But some employees can't help but bring to work the stress of caring for an aging parent or worries about a costly home repair. If assessments were to include a behavioral health component, the hospital could help employees earlier, often using a resource it already has in place — an EAP. Think of it: everyone benefits.