Susan Campbell

Will Healthcare Purchasers Transform Obesity Care?

Packing a suitcase is simple. Getting a plane safely into the air is complicated. But tackling obesity is complex. That’s how Susan Campbell, the senior leader for wellness strategy at American Airlines, described the challenge confronting her airline. American and other healthcare purchasers are finding a way to reach beyond simplistic approaches to obesity.

Campbell spoke at the National Alliance Obesity Summit in Dallas yesterday.

A Spotty History

Conscienhealth’s Ted Kyle opened the summit with a frank assessment of limited progress in reducing the health impact of obesity. Over four decades, prevalence has grown despite considerable efforts to reverse the trends. Norms that stigmatize people with obesity have served to block progress. Benefit designs have denied access to obesity care. And then the bills mount for complications. The health and cost burden for diabetes, heart disease, and a host of other chronic conditions is becoming unsustainable.

But it’s those mounting costs that are bringing change through smart healthcare purchasers. They are focusing on interventions backed by evidence for better outcomes.

Diabetes Prevention in Focus

Because of strong evidence for better outcomes with the Diabetes Prevention Program, employers are making it a cornerstone. It’s a prototype, backed by evidence, of intensive behavioral care for obesity. It’s thorough, but it’s not simple to implement. The DPP is prompting a re-thinking of how healthcare purchasers structure health and wellness benefit designs.

The Cleveland Clinic’s Bruce Rogen described more than a decade of experience bringing better obesity care and support to 52,000 employees. The Clinic has reached a point where about half of its employees affected by obesity engage with a free health coach to develop personal health goals. Employees now have access to a full range of obesity care services.

By comparison, hypertension and high cholesterol look easy. Obesity requires more work. But avoiding the issue has become impossible. So yes, obesity is prompting employers to look at health and wellness with fresh eyes.

Click here for the overview presentation and here for perspective on how employees are thinking about health promotion by employers.

Susan Campbell, photograph © National Alliance / Twitter

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March 15, 2018

One Response to “Will Healthcare Purchasers Transform Obesity Care?”

  1. March 15, 2018 at 2:46 pm, Angela Golden said:

    Thank you for sharing your presentation – as always you make so much sense – sure wish the folks in Washington would listen to you!