There are so many variations of wellness programs — most of them ineffective and with little ROI. The trend is to pad these programs with access to alternative medical providers who exist outside of expensive health provider networks.
Hm. I am bad at math but I am a big fan of science. In that vein, here are three things your wellness program should avoid.
Wikipedia describes homeopathy as a form of alternative medicine in which practitioners attempt to treat patients using highly diluted preparations that have no active pharmaceutical ingredient in the liquid. Basically, homeopathic practitioners believe that your illness is created by a disturbance to your ‘vital force‘ — a derivative of Qi — and their magic water will fix you. Water. That’s it. Homeopathy is no more effective than a placebo. Unfortunately, some wellness programs will cover remedies and dilutions. There is no ROI, and thus, HR people should skip this garbage.
Naturopathy practitioners also believe in a vital force. These ‘doctors’ are into self-healing practices and herbal treatments. In many cases, patients are desperate and the naturopathy practitioners are creating an ongoing revenue source for themselves because patients are never quite cured. And you don’t need to have a medical degree or be board certified to practice naturopathy, either. In fact, some practitioners will refer to themselves as doctors because they are certified as doctors by their own sanctioned schools. (Nice. I’m a Doctor of Blogging. BlD.)
If you think a colonic and ozone therapy can cure you, that’s perfect. Naturopathy is for you. Most scientists and researchers agree that naturopathy is sketchy at best and often relies upon the placebo effect to produce results. HR should never suggest covering naturopathy unless they want to be laughed out of the executive suite.
Chiropractors are not doctors. Full stop. I know this surprises many people but the field of chiropractic is based on alternative medicine beliefs and vitalism. Chiropractors have a strong trade association — think SHRM for quackjobs — who lobby hard for health insurance inclusion and coverage. Chiropractors are very political and litigious (like Scientologists) and their trade association exists to make chiropractic seem like a responsible form of medicine. It is not.
Did you know that chiropractors are educated in schools and programs that are not accountable to anyone? These ‘doctors’ offer nothing that a physical therapist or massage therapist can’t provide; however, chiropractors cause spinal injuries, strokes and paralysis through adjustments and alignments. Chiropractors have killed people. Do some people feel better after seeing a Chiropractor? Sure. The New York Times had a headline, yesterday, that read For Neck Pain, Chiropractic and Exercise Are Better Than Drugs. That’s awesome… sorta… but there’s a line in the article that says home exercises were about as effective as the chiropractic sessions. Hm.
Back and pain is so insidious that most people would feel better after being hit by a truck. And the treatments that do work for people with pain — a combination of weight loss, exercise, stretching, and some anti-inflammatory medications — require difficult lifestyle changes and difficult choices.
In summary, Chiropractic is dangerous and not based on science. It has no business being included as a part of responsible health insurance packages or wellness programs.
So what works in wellness?
- Wellness programs that stick to science and positive behavior modification are the most successful. Penalizing employees doesn’t work. It’s about a comprehensive lifestyle change — as cliche as that sounds.
- You can’t work hard and play hard with a broken body, which is why a company like Hearst provides access to a great cafeteria and a free fitness center within their corporate headquarters.
- Access to therapists (and a strong EAP program) is important. Addictive behavior isn’t just limited to cigarettes and alcohol. Many people struggle with a dependency on prescription drugs, food, and sex. Good mental health is the first step towards addressing chronic and expensive health issues.
I want HR folks to keep health insurance costs down but I want to implement wellness programs that work. Homeopathy, naturopathy, and chiropractic have no business in your wellness plan.
That’s a fact.