Things That Drive Your Company’s Bottom Line Crazy

doctor_crazyThis morning, an interesting little article from Delos Cosgrove of the Cleveland Clinic appeared on the LinkedIn Healthcare home page. Titled “Things That Drive Your Doctor Crazy,” the four items that drive doctors to the drink are:

  1. Failing to take medication or advice
  2. Smoking
  3. Overeating
  4. Sedentary lifestyle

In that order.

Now, I’m not at all at odds with that list. It’s a very good list. I just think the order is a bit off-base. Here’s my (revised) top four: 

  1. Overeating / Eating junk food
  2. Smoking
  3. Sedentary lifestyle
  4. Failing to take medication or advice

I actually had sedentary lifestyle ahead of smoking for a minute until I remembered that smoking will wreak greater havoc on the body than simply being averse to exercise. So, I kept smoking in its original spot.

Why do I think Mr. Cosgrove’s order is off? Well, part of it has to do with the perspective that most doctors have. Medical schools do a laughably poor job of educating about nutrition’s and exercise’s effects on the body. In fact, exercise is pretty much non-existent in medical school environments. Nutrition is on the menu in a few curricula, mostly those associated with integrative medicine.

This problem is compounded by the fact that health-contingent corporate wellness programs necessarily involve physician-led or -developed initiatives. Since the majority of those doctors’ perspectives mirror those of Mr. Cosgrove (see: medical school argument), what you get is a program that places a premium on getting people to doctors first. “Get control of the problem,” they say, as they waggle a bottle of prescription medication in your face. “Oh, and work on eating healthier and exercising more.” (Like it’s an afterthought.)

Then there’s the prevalence of HRAs in wellness vendors’ program offerings. “But that’s a good thing!” Not really. HRAs place a premium on getting people to doctors, which – counterintuitively – works to increase your health care costs. (Al Lewis explains more here, but the gist is that HRAs over-diagnose.)

As a result, what I’m telling you is that what will drive a doctor crazy is similar to what drives your company’s bottom line up a wall… but nowhere near identical.

If your company cares about the health and well-being of its employees, your priorities should be:

  1. Getting people to eat right (going by government standards doesn’t count as “right”)
  2. Stopping smoking habits
  3. Getting your people active at work, and encouraging activity outside of work
  4. Getting your employees off of their medications entirely, or at least to the bare minimum (hey, some people need meds for things that 1-3 can’t prevent)

Doing those four things can help counteract some of your company’s biggest health care costs, like these:

Credit to

Credit to

The best part? You don’t need a vast wellness solution to do it… which is the fifth and final thing that will really drive your company’s bottom line insane.

What are your thoughts?

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