November 2005

Grant Results

SUMMARY

In January 2005, the National Business Group on Health, Washington, produced and released the second Employer's Guide to Health Improvement and Preventive Services.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force of the U.S. Public Health Service, an independent panel of nationally known experts in primary care and evidence-based medicine, publishes a widely respected Guide to Clinical Preventive Services that recommends appropriate design of preventive services.

The guidelines, however, are written in a format for providers that is less suitable for corporate human resource executives.

Key Results

  • The publication translates research evidence on clinical preventive services (e.g., screening, counseling and immunization) released by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force into nonclinical business language.
  • It also provides guidance for employers on the development and implementation of disease prevention and health promotion interventions.

Funding
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) supported the project with a $619,608 grant from December 2001 through February 2005.

 See Grant Detail & Contact Information
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THE PROBLEM

Preventable illness constitutes approximately 50 percent of the burden of illness and its associated costs, and eight of the nine leading causes of death in the United States are preventable, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Access to appropriate clinical preventive services—e.g., screening, counseling and immunization—can reduce disability, extend the span of a healthy life and lower unnecessary losses in worker productivity; yet clinical preventive services are often not covered by employer-sponsored health insurance and are underutilized by employees.

As the costs of delivering health care to employees and other beneficiaries rise, employers are searching for new and innovative approaches to delivering high quality and affordable health care, including shifting from the treatment of illness to a focus on disease prevention.

While most large employers understand the importance of preventive services, they need recommendations on the development, implementation and evaluation of these services, along with communication strategies about how to effectively engage employees and other beneficiaries in preventive services.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force of the U.S. Public Health Service, an independent panel of nationally known experts in primary care and evidence-based medicine, publishes a widely respected Guide to Clinical Preventive Services that recommends appropriate design of preventive services. The guidelines, however, are written in a format for providers that is less suitable for corporate human resource executives.

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RWJF STRATEGY

In 1996, supported by RWJF grant ID# 019821, the Washington Business Group on Health published the first Employer's Guide to Clinical Preventive Services. (The Washington Business Group on Health, now renamed the National Business Group on Health, is a nonprofit organization that helps the more than 200 large employers, health care companies, benefits consultants and vendors that it represents find innovative solutions to health care and benefits issues.)

The publication was the first translation for corporate business managers of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force's Guide to Clinical Preventive Services. It was intended to promote the inclusion of clinical preventive services in employer-sponsored health plans. For more information, see Grant Results on ID# 019821.

To study the effectiveness and reach of this first Employer's Guide to Clinical Preventive Services, RWJF supported a survey of National Health Care Purchasing Institute users in the spring of 2001. The institute was an RWJF-funded initiative to train health care purchasing executives from the public and private sector to use their buying power to improve the quality and cost-effectiveness of care.

The survey showed that 80 percent of the respondents were not familiar with the Employer's Guide, but those who were familiar with it found it useful. In 2001, when the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force reconvened to update its Guide to Clinical Preventive Services, the National Business Group on Health proposed its second business-language translation of the guide.

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THE PROJECT

The three goals of this project were to:

  1. Develop a revised version of the Employer's Guide to Clinical Preventive Services.
  2. Produce a Web version of the guide, along with additional search engine tools.
  3. Promote the newly released guide's materials among large employers, corporate benefits managers and health care consumers.

The intention of the revised guide is to translate research evidence on clinical preventive services released by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force into nonclinical business language, and to provide guidance for employers on the development and implementation of disease prevention and health promotion interventions.

To accomplish its goals, the project team conducted the following activities:

  • Translated and created summaries of 64 practical disease prevention strategies and clinical preventive services recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force into nonclinical language, in a format designed for health care benefit planners and other human resource personnel. The summaries include screening recommendations, the scope of the illness that the intervention addresses, associated costs of the illness, actionable strategies for employers to reduce the incidence of the illness and additional resources for information about the illness.
  • Surveyed the National Business Group on Health membership on benefit plan high-cost areas and use of preventive services. The findings of this survey helped shape the guide, making it more useful to the members and other employers.
  • Consulted with experts in disease prevention and health promotion, including experts on technical support and clinical reviews from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), technical support specialists from the CDC (technical support), and documentation review and strategy planning experts from Partnership for Prevention, a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to improving people's health by preventing disease and injury. These organizations also helped promote the Employers Guide when it was completed.
  • Subcontracted with the Washington-based GYMR public relations firm to promote and publicize the new Employer's Guide and its Web site. The public relations campaign responded to the 2001 survey of National Health Care Purchasing Institute membership that revealed that many employers were not familiar with the previous Employer's Guide.

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RESULTS

The project accomplished the following:

  • The project team produced 500 copies of Improving Health, Improving Business: An Employer's Guide to Health Improvement and Preventive Services, a manual in three-ring-binder format that provides guidance to employers on the development, implementation, evaluation and promotion of preventive services. The Employer's Guide, released in January 2005, includes:
    • A four-part guide to implementing preventive services, including steps for: assessing existing health conditions in the work environment; developing a disease prevention program for employees and other beneficiaries; communicating preventive services to employees, health plans and providers; and evaluating the effectiveness of the interventions.
    • Summaries of 64 U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations for practical disease prevention strategies and clinical preventive services, written in nonclinical language.
    • A frequently asked questions (FAQ) page that provides information about the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the National Committee on Quality Assurance's report card on managed care plans—the Health Plan Employer and Data Information Set.
    • Additional resources, including a glossary of clinical and economic terms, contact information for key prevention organizations and an interactive preventive services selector, which helps identify clinical preventive services for screening, counseling and preventive medication based on a person's age, sex and pregnancy status.
    • Sample promotional items for employers to use to market and stress the importance of preventive services.
  • The National Business Group on Health team developed an area on its Web site where the Employer's Guide, including its tools and resources mentioned above, are available to the public without charge or password.
  • Subcontractor GYMR, a public relations firm, conducted a wide-scale dissemination and outreach campaign for the guide. The promotion included an audio press release, broad promotion in trade journals of articles the project team wrote, an interview radio tour for the project director, Ronald Finch, Ed.D., and an educational Web-based seminar to familiarize employers with the guide's offerings.

Communications

The National Business Group on Health released Improving Health, Improving Business: An Employer's Guide to Health Improvement and Preventive Services with a press release and press teleconference on January 11, 2005. Reporters representing 17 different health care and business publications attended the press conference.

The supporting Web page containing the guide went live the day of the release. On January 18, 2005, project staff held an educational Web-based seminar, attended by 68 benefits directors, medical directors and other representatives from large employers, consulting firms and federal agencies. Activity on the National Business Group Web site rose over 400 percent after the guide's release and the Web seminar. In addition, the project team disseminated 480 hard copies of the Employer's Guide manual to 240 large employer companies and other key stakeholders (e.g., AHRQ, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the CDC.

The project director estimates that more than 50 million people have access to the preventive services guide through the National Business Group's member companies. Media coverage of the preventive services guide was extensive following the press release, and Project Director Finch discussed the project in interviews at eight radio networks. The interviews resulted in more than 2,800 airings on 1,500 radio stations across the country. The project team published several articles on the project in benefits manager trade publications. Requests for copies of the guide continue since its release, and the project team members continue to give interviews to reporters. See the Bibliography for details.

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LESSONS LEARNED

  1. Hiring a subcontractor to promote a product can significantly extend its reach. Due to the concern about the lack of attention that the previous guide had received, the National Business Group subcontracted with a public relations firm, GYMR, to promote the second Employer's Guide. This promotion enhanced the attention received upon its release. (Project Director)
  2. Offer educational sessions when releasing a guide. The Web-based seminar offered when the Employer's Guide was released provided large employers with an opportunity to learn about the guide and how to use it, and generated more interest in the guide. (Project Director)
  3. Get experts to support your project. Several experts in disease prevention and health promotion endorsed the Employer's Guide, including Garry Lindsay of the Partnership for Prevention and Helen Burstin of the AHRQ. In addition, the AHRQ promoted the Employer's Guide on its Web site. Having well-known and well-respected spokespersons lent credibility to the Employer's Guide project. (Project Director)

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AFTER THE GRANT

RWJF did not fund a proposal from the National Business Group on Health to support project follow-up. The organization is collaborating with the CDC to develop language for summary plan descriptions—i.e., information regarding benefit plans offered by employers—for the clinical preventive services listed in the guide.

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GRANT DETAILS & CONTACT INFORMATION

Project

Development of an Updated Clinical Preventive Services Guide for Employers, Consumers and Benefits Managers

Grantee

National Business Group on Health (Washington,  DC)

  • Amount: $ 619,608
    Dates: December 2001 to January 2005
    ID#:  039658

Contact

Ronald Finch, Ed.D.
(202) 585-1827
finch@businessgrouphealth.org

Web Site

http://www.wbgh.org

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

(Current as of date of this report; as provided by grantee organization; not verified by RWJF; items not available from RWJF.)

Books

National Business Group on Health. Improving Health, Improving Business: An Employer's Guide to Health Improvement and Preventive Services. Washington, 2005.

Articles

Dixon IW and Rees CM. "Preventive Care and Services in Workplace Health Plans: Why Employers Are Making It Their Business." Benefits and Compensation Digest, December 2004.

Dixon IW. "Preventive Health Care Programs." Employee Benefits Planner. In press.

Dixon IW. "Preventive Services: Improving Health and Productivity for Employers and Employees." Unpublished.

Finch R. "Preventive Services: Improving the Bottom Line for Employers and Employees." Compensation and Benefits Review, 37(March/April): 18–22, 2005.

Reports

Audio News Release: Verified Usage Information Final Usage Report. Washington: National Business Group on Health, 2005.

Media Coverage for Employer's Guide Launch. Washington: National Business Group on Health, 2005.

Radio Media Tour Highlights and Results. Washington: National Business Group on Health, 2004.

Audio-Visuals and Computer Software

Improving Health, Improving Business: An Employer's Guide to Health Improvement and Preventive Services. Slide presentation to aid benefit managers in educating employees and senior managers about preventive services, Washington: National Business Group on Health, 2005.

Survey Instruments

"Cost and Usage of Preventive Services," National Business Group on Health, fielded August 17–31, 2004. Available online.

World Wide Web Sites

www.wbgh.org. Web site created to provide access to all contents of the Employer's Guide to Health Improvement and Preventive Services. The public has access to every component of the guide, as well as Web search tools, promotional item templates and press materials for additional clinical preventive services recommendations. Washington: National Business Group on Health, January 11, 2005.

Presentations and Testimony

National Business Group on Health, "Improving Health, Improving Business: A Guide to The Employer's Guide to Health Improvement and Preventive Services," Presentation detailing contents of preventive services guide, at instructional Web seminar, January 18, 2005, Washington.

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Report prepared by: Karyn Collins
Reviewed by: Robert Crum
Reviewed by: Molly McKaughan
Program Officer: Susan B. Hassmiller