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  • August 11 2011

    The Employer Health Care Opportunity

    The idea that a healthy workforce makes for a productive workforce isn't new to employers. Occupational health, a discipline focused on health and safety in the workplace, was officially defined by International Labour Organization and the World Health Organization in 1950 and various approaches have been in place since that time. As health care costs in America rise, employers are the ones who face the brunt of these expenses. Realizing the need to both control costs and maintain a healthy workforce, many employers are expanding their view of occupational health and taking a more holistic, proactive approach to overall workplace health. Cerner continues to be a leader in facilitating this shift, using our own associate base as a living lab to test and prove new approaches to bring to our clients in this space.

    In a recent article, aptly titled ‘Do-it-yourself health care in corporate America,' Jeff Townsend, Cerner executive vice president and chief of staff, stated, “We think employers are this country's best shot at innovating a new health care system.” I couldn't agree more. Employers have been and will continue to be the drivers of reform, whether in health care or elsewhere. A key piece of this expanded focus on workplace health is the idea of shared accountability for both the cost of care and the outcome of that care. Creating a framework of accountability that pulls together the interests of all parties involved is a vital step for employers as they continue to encourage healthy living habits in their employees.

    Here at Cerner, our own efforts to improve workplace health have been met with great enthusiasm by our associates. Collectively, we've lost more than 20,000 pounds as part of a weight loss challenge, a program we've recently expanded to our global associates. We also started the KC Slimdown Challenge, a city-wide weight loss challenge involving  other employers and residents here in Kansas City. We routinely hear positive feedback from our associates on the experiences they have in our on-site clinics and pharmacies as well. We've made a commitment to creating a culture of health at our company, a commitment we encourage other employers to consider. After all, health care is too important to stay the same, and employers have the opportunity to shape how the reforms play out.

    Dick Flanigan, senior vice president, leads Cerner's Research Organization, its Employer services group and is responsible for new and premier academic and children's hospital clients in the U.S. Flanigan oversees Cerner's strategy to advance automation of clinical research, public health, drug and patient safety, and genomics, and to develop innovative technologies that enable more personalized health. He also directs Cerner's Employer initiatives, which encompass development and strategy for on-site employer pharmacies and clinics, and health and wellness management programs. In addition, Flanigan leads the premier academic and children's hospital organization, and drives the Academic Advisory Board and Pediatric Leadership Council from a senior executive perspective. He leverages research insights from both councils throughout the wider base of Cerner clients.

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