A healthcare quality accrediting group is stepping in to propose standards and measures for employer-based wellness programs.
The National Committee for Quality Assurance, or NCQA, has released for public comment proposed standards for these programs aimed at getting workers to improve their health and thus reduce companies healthcare costs. Some two-thirds of employers nationwide offer wellness programs such as health coaching, smoking cessation and weight management, according to the NCQA. Effective wellness programs lay out a clear, achievable approach to help people make healthy decisions every day, said Patricia Barrett, NCQA vice president of product development, in a written statement. This new program will help employers safeguard the health and productivity of their employees by choosing the best programs available.
The not-for-profit groups Wellness and Health Promotion product evaluation, slated for launch in early 2009, will give its seal of approval to top-notch workplace wellness initiatives. Proposed criteria for accreditation includes whether the wellness programs use evidence-based methods to improve and maintain good health, whether individual health information is safeguarded and whether continuous efforts to improve the program are in place. The public may comment on the proposed measures through June 30 at ncqa.org. -- by Rebecca Vesely