While chronic disease is a persistent problem in the workplace, employers are missing key data illustrating how employees’ conditions are affecting their work, according to the 2018 Sanofi Canada health-care survey.

However, the data around chronic disease is complex, noted one of the survey’s advisory board members. During the launch event for the survey in Toronto on Wednesday, Adrian Ebrahimi, an account executive at SSQ Life Insurance Co. Inc., said the advisory board discussed how plan sponsors could benefit from a short paper outlining the issues and offering them action items.

Read: The growing impact of chronic disease

Only 58 per cent plan sponsors said they’ve received claims data identifying the state of chronic disease within their organizations. Employers with 500 or more staff members are more likely (67 per cent) to receive such information, while companies with 50 or fewer employees are less likely (44 per cent). The majority (91 per cent) of plan sponsors that do receive such data said it helps them understand the working of their benefits plan. As well, they’re more likely (65 per cent) to have specific objectives for their health benefits plan, compared to the 38 per cent that don’t receive the data.

The survey also found only two per cent of employers said they pull their own data from their carriers’ systems. Of the 42 per cent that don’t receive such data, 25 per cent said they would like to.

“Not only should businesses have access to this important data, but benefit providers can also bring the data analysis to life by linking benefit program recommendations for chronic illnesses to business drivers, such as workplace safety,” said Telena Oussauren, manager of benefits for Canada and international at Suncor Energy Inc. and an advisory board member.

“Employers will sit up when providers make improving employee well-being part of an overall approach to risk management. Adapt the findings to align employers’ health benefit plans with what they are striving to achieve.”

Read: Personal finances impacting workplace stress, survey finds

Among plan member respondents, the survey noted a jump (to 47 per cent in 2018 from 38 per cent in 2016) in those reporting that their chronic conditions affects their ability to do their work is affected by their chronic condition. Employees in poor financial health are more likely (66 per cent) to have and chronic condition, and those dissatisfied with their current jobs are more likely (58 per cent) to report that their health issue has had a negative impact on their quality of work.

The negative impacts on work include employees fatigue on the job (58 per cent), difficulty concentrating (41 per cent) and taking time off for health-care appointments (39 per cent). Less frequent yet still significant impacts include leaving work due to feeling ill (30 per cent), taking longer and more frequent breaks (25 per cent) and needing to take time during the workday to monitor or care for their condition (21 per cent).

Most (83 per cent) plan members with a chronic disease said they take at least one medication for it on a regular basis, while 37 per cent said they take three or more. Among that group, 40 per cent reported that they sometimes forget to take one of their drugs, a number that rises to 51 per cent among those who reported increased amounts of day-to-day stress.

Further, among plan members taking three or more medications, 75 per cent said they’d be open to coaching by a pharmacist to ensure they’re medicating themselves properly, if their benefits plan covered such a service. Plan sponsors also expressed interest, with 68 per cent interested in covering such coaching.

Read: Healthy Outcomes: A look at chronic disease among younger Canadians

“Plan members living with chronic disease see their pharmacists regularly for prescription refills,” said Rachel Huckle, senior vice-president for health and wellness at Shoppers Drug Mart Inc. and one of the survey’s advisory board members.

“Now that pharmacists can do more under an expanded scope of practice, combined with enhanced digital health tools, we have a real opportunity to improve population health and to further motivate patients’ engagement.”

Read more articles from the 2018 Sanofi Canada health-care survey

Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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