Do you see it? Can you feel it? It’s the changing perception across America – and FINALLY in Florida, that our best hope of battling costly and debilitating chronic diseases is not through medical breakthroughs in treatment but in preventing their onset altogether. As residents of the most progressive country in the world with the most state of the art medical technology, treatments and interventions, we should be the healthiest. But sadly, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported in 2000 that the U.S. healthcare system ranked 37th among all nations. The New England Journal of Medicine reported in 2010 that while the highly criticized and debated WHO report may have its shortcomings, there is no denying that in 2006, the US spent the most on healthcare out of ALL nations yet infant mortality still ranks us 39. This is undisputable. The fee-for-service model of healthcare delivery has largely fueled the rising cost of healthcare. As a result, we as Americans have grown accustomed to what we at the Florida Heart Research Institute call the “magic pill approach”. Have a backache, take a pill. Have high blood pressure or cholesterol, take a pill. It’s a never ending cycle that is spiraling out of control as we continue to put out the fires of illness and disease through costly treatment interventions. But finally, FINALLY there is increasing recognition and awareness that maybe our approach is all wrong. Maybe rather than focusing on the treatment of chronic diseases as they occur, we should be focusing on preventing them all together! Health promotion advocates have finally been heard on Capitol Hill and the passage of the Affordable Care Act has provisions to encourage health promotion programs in the workplace as a means to improve public health through prevention.
 
You may ask yourself, why incentivize prevention programs in the workplace? The answer is simple. We Americans frequently spend more waking hours at work than we do at home with our families. And employers are slowly realizing that the only way to turn the tide of the rising costs of healthcare is to keep their workforce healthy and improve the health of those already afflicted with disease. Heart disease can be prevented, stopped and even reversed if the proper corrective steps are taken. And here is more good news: the prevention strategies for heart disease are the same for cancer, diabetes and most other chronic diseases. The “magic pill” is the same for all of them… (but it takes time and a concerted effort): it’s a healthy diet and daily physical activity. Employers who adopt worksite wellness programs that promote a healthy lifestyle of no smoking, exercise and a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats are reaping the benefits of their efforts and the efforts of their employees through a decrease in medical claims, constant or reduced medical premiums, reduced absenteeism, reduced worker’s compensation claims and healthier, happier, more loyal and productive employees. Research has shown that for every dollar spent on worksite wellness programming there’s a $3 to $6 return on investment.
 
In an effort to encourage more businesses to adopt worksite wellness programs and to reward those that do, Florida Heart Research Institute is proud to partner with the Miami-Dade County Health Department and the Consortium for a Healthier Miami-Dade in hosting the fifth annual 2013 Florida Worksite Wellness Forum and Awards on Friday, April 12, 2013 at the Miami Beach Resort and Spa. The event includes morning workshops with national speakers and movers and shakers in the field and an awards luncheon emceed by local CBS news anchor Cynthia Demos. The call for nominations is currently underway for large, mid-sized and small businesses with active programs with documented outcomes. Winners will receive a $500 award along with the honor of entering the Winners Circle in perpetuity. Paul Terry, Chief Executive Officer of StayWell Health Management, will serve as Keynote speaker of the luncheon. Those who desire to network further may attend the VIP reception with the speakers and winners following the luncheon. To learn more, go to www.worksitewellnessawards.org. An investment in teaching your employees about preventive strategies to a healthier, happier life can be well-rewarded. We invite the entire state of Florida to join us April 12th and catch the wave!