Today’s workforce wants more from its jobs and its employers. In a tight labor market with low unemployment, companies must find new ways to attract, engage and retain their best workers. Investing in employees confers more than just a competitive edge in a job market with historically low unemployment. Employers are increasingly interested in improving population health, since investing in their workers’ well-being can improve productivity, reduce absenteeism, increase presenteeism, and promote workplace harmony.
In a world filled with productivity hacks, the shortest path to being more effective at work isn’t an app, a new planner, or better meeting agendas. It’s better health. Missed work costs employers an estimated $225.8 billion annually—and this figure does not take into account decreased productivity due to depression, pain, and chronic illnesses. Employers can improve the lives of employees by implementing precision medicine programs. In order to improve employee health, employers are no longer following behind the clinical establishment in implementing progressive wellness programs—they’re leading the way. In 2018, more employers implemented genetic testing programs to improve employee health and foster greater workplace productivity.
The Connection Between Workplace Health and Productivity
More than 40 percent of Americans have a chronic illness such as depression or diabetes. These conditions can cause workers to miss work when they’re feeling ill, or to show up when they’re not functioning at full capacity. Healthier workers are more productive. In one study of workplace wellness programs, half of the employers that implemented a wellness program saw a decrease in absenteeism. Sixty-six percent reported increased productivity.
This suggests that initiatives to improve workers’ health may also boost a company’s bottom line, and even help them compete in a global economy. Workers who feel supported in their efforts to achieve healthy living goals may become more committed to their jobs and employers, which is likely to increase retention and productivity.
PGx Testing as a Win-Win-Win
To get the most out of a workplace wellness program, employers must invest in programs with proven results. A 2017 study suggests that as many as 97 percent of Americans carry at least one genetic variant that can affect drug reactions. As researchers identify more drug-genome interactions, that figure may rise even higher.
Pharmacogenomic testing (PGx) is an efficient and cost-effective way to help clinicians choose the right medications for various health conditions, especially chronic illnesses such as depression. When the right medication is selected the first time, employees are healthier, suffer fewer drug side effects, and enjoy greater benefit from your healthcare spend. More importantly, illness-related costs, including reduced productivity and absenteeism, decrease.
What 2018 Taught Us About the Future of Workplace-Driven PGx Testing
In the early days of PGx testing, early adopters were primarily academic and research institutions, or small practices in psychiatry, pain management, or cardiology. Now, large multinational companies like Visa, SAP, GE Appliances, and Tribune Media are blazing a trail into the future of precision medicine. They’ve implemented PGx testing programs, and their workers are getting excellent results.
This employer-sponsored testing will likely lead to a virtuous circle in which clinicians are introduced to the benefits of testing by their patients. Likewise, patient-advocacy groups may collaborate with employers to promote PGx testing.
At the close of 2018, more employers were accelerating precision medicine programs by using telemedicine to complement genetic testing programs. The result is greater privacy and convenience to workers interested in PGx testing, which harnesses the wisdom of a core group of experts in pharmacogenomics. This allows innovative companies to focus training on a centralized core of experts, and address the shortage of knowledgeable physicians.
Translational Software is a leader in genetic testing. We offer convenient testing nationwide with actionable reporting that is based on robust data. We recently partnered with Allscripts to provide free genetic testing for all Allscripts associates, and we can work with any company to rapidly implement a PGx program that gets results. Join the movement and offer your staff a benefit that can change, and maybe even save, their lives. Contact us to learn more.