What Employers Can Do About Diabetes Prevention and Management
Posted by Medavie Blue Cross on November 1, 2023
Think about this: each and every day, millions of Canadians who are living with diabetes come to work juggling the responsibilities of their job with keeping their blood sugar in check, taking medications and eating regularly to control symptoms.
At the same time, research shows that many Canadians struggle to access a regular health care provider – 12%, according to a recent report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information.
Make the connection
The direct link between lifestyle and diabetes is irrefutable. A workplace health and wellness program can make that connection and encourage employees to reduce risky behaviours, such as smoking, lack of exercise and overeating. When employees adopt healthy lifestyle habits, such as eating healthy foods, getting regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight, they can reverse the onset of the disease, even slow or stop the progression of type 2 diabetes.
Just 30 minutes of physical activity per day can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 40%.
Help employees learn the risks and effects of this disease by making diabetes the focus of your education and awareness activities. Provide literature from trusted sources like Diabetes Canada and share information in targeted emails, posters and desk drops, webinars or Intranet articles. Invite a local diabetes specialist to lead an information session, such as a lunch and learn, to reinforce the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
About 9 in 10 cases of type 2 diabetes can be avoided by healthier lifestyle practices.
Add Spending Accounts
Adding spending accounts to your benefit plan, such as Health Spending and Personal Wellness Accounts, can also play a role in disease prevention and management. How? Covering expenses outside your traditional plan incentivizes employees to enhance their health and wellness.
Offer coaching and support
Diabetes management is a life-long process. That’s why making access to health coaching and education is more than a nice-to-have. It’s a must! Check to see if your insurer covers specialized counselling to give your employees the knowledge and confidence they need to self-manage their disease.
Provide onsite screening
By warning employees they may be at risk of developing diabetes, it allows them to take action to prevent or even reverse the onset of the disease or, if caught early, halt or slow the progression of the disease. That’s why employers should consider bringing biometric screening to the workplace – an effective early detection and disease management tool.
Metabolic sensors and mobile apps are among the digital tools being added to the diabetes prevention and management toolkit. These sensors can detect a metabolic change in the body, indicating that the person may be at risk of having diabetes. Acting on that warning could make all the difference in whether the person develops the disease or not.
Additionally, mobile apps can be used to improve medication adherence by sending out reminders to take drugs as prescribed, as well as helpful tips to stay active and eat smart.
Research shows that within a year of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, 25% of people are not taking medications as prescribed.
Go above and beyond
Coverage for diabetes treatment is included in virtually every employer-sponsored health plan. As an employer, investing in additional resources for your employees beyond core benefits can yield positive results such as improved health, increased happiness, and higher productivity. These benefits can enhance your company's overall performance and culture.
360 Total Care is our innovative health coaching program designed to support members living with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or obesity and is accessible through the 360 Care app. 360 Total Care is based on a quarterly subscription model and provides:
This program is eligible for reimbursement under our Managing Chronic Disease (MCD) benefit. MCD connects employees with specially trained chronic disease educators, online or in their communities, to help them better understand their condition and develop a personalized treatment plan. Educators are available for lung conditions like asthma/COPD, diabetes, heart issues like high blood pressure or cholesterol and smoking cessation.
Further, we offer a free Health Risk Assessment (HRA) tool that can help employees understand their risk of developing diabetes based on their responses to several questions about their health and lifestyle.
Harvard School of Public Health
National Institute of Health