HEALTH

Majority of wellness programs don’t include smoking cessation incentives

BY Michael Johnsen

DALLAS — A recent HealthMine survey of 750 wellness program participants indicated that only 37% say smoking cessation programs are included in their plan. Even in plans that do include quit smoking programs, 87% said they need an incentive, or they would be unlikely to complete the program. As new findings show that combining a penalty with a reward can double success rates for smoking cessation, HealthMine found that only 32% of wellness program enrollees say their program includes any incentives for smoking cessation.
 
Plan members support both incentives and disincentives for smoking cessation: 63% of consumers think colleagues that smoke tobacco products should pay more for health insurance, while 48% of consumers think that e-cigarette smokers should be penalized, HealthMine uncovered in its January Health Plan Member Survey.
 
"Health plan sponsors could do a whole lot more to help people quit smoking than they do now," said Bryce Williams, president and CEO of HealthMine. "Wellness incentives and disincentives — when personalized and matched carefully to recommended health actions — can play a powerful role in helping members address smoking, the largest cause of preventable death in the U.S."
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Healthy Delights expands offering through GNC

BY Michael Johnsen

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Healthy Delights on Monday launched five new products in GNC stores nationwide, including Probiotic Chocolate Bites, Probiotic Greek Yogurt Bites, Turmeric Curcumin Chews, Magnesium Chews and Cranberry Chews. The new offerings will generate significant growth for Healthy Delights and will further position the brand as the go-to soft chew supplement to stay healthy, the company stated. 
 
"Healthy Delights was developed with the goal of delivering high-quality supplements and nutritional snacks in a delicious and convenient way," stated Al Baumeler, SVP marketing. "We are thrilled to expand our brand in GNC and give health-conscious consumers an enjoyable new way to keep their families – and themselves – healthy." 
 
GNC will offer the full selection of nutritious and delicious Healthy Delights supplements starting May 18, 2015. The fully branded in-store display will offer customers a free sample of the different supplements available.  
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Care teams including pharmacists better manage high blood pressure

BY Michael Johnsen

IOWA CITY, Iowa — If you have hypertension, it pays to include a pharmacist in a medical-care team.
 
That's the upshot from research by the University of Iowa that found patients with uncontrolled hypertension had better blood-pressure control when being cared for by pharmacists working in care teams (with a physician, for example), than patients who relied mostly on a doctor for medication guidance.
 
The researchers showed pharmacist-included care teams delivered more hands-on and tailored medication regimens to patients, which yielded more effective blood-pressure control results than for those patients who did not have a pharmacist on hand.
 
UI pharmacy research associate Tyler Gums will present the findings Monday at the American Society of Hypertension annual conference in New York.
 
The results come from two studies done by research teams led by Barry Carter, UI pharmacy professor.
 
For the study, UI researchers enrolled 625 patients from various racial backgrounds with uncontrolled hypertension from 32 medical offices across 15 states in the United States. They then evaluated how well patients were able to control their blood pressure when getting care from a medical team that included a pharmacist compared to being treated by a physician only. The study took place between March 2010 and June 2013.
 
The researchers measured patients' blood pressure control, the degree and intensity of care they received and how well they followed medication recommendations.
 
The UI team found that patients who saw a medical team that included a clinical pharmacist showed a systolic blood pressure drop of 6.1 mmHg nine months later compared to those who did not see a clinical pharmacist during the same time. A reduction of that scale would reduce the chances of death by stroke by 23%, the researchers noted. "That means, if you saw a care team with a clinical pharmacist, your blood pressure was more likely to be lower," said Gums, a postdoctoral researcher in the UI College of Pharmacy.
 
Moreover, patients in the pharmacist-included care teams had their medications adjusted an average of 4.9 times during the nine-month period, of which three instances involved dose increases or added medications, according to the study.
 
Patients who saw physicians only averaged one adjusted medication and less than one instance of dose increases or added medications in the same period, the researchers found.
 
"Clinical pharmacists were able to contribute to the care team by tailoring blood pressure medications for each patient and spent extra time educating patients on how to decrease their blood pressure," Gums explained.
 
The researchers found patients in the pharmacist-included care teams did not follow their medication recommendations more readily than the control group. Further research is needed to understand why.
 
The National Institutes of Health funded the work.
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