Patient Engagement, Payers

Genetic testing turns quick ROI in Aetna wellness program

The health insurer saved more than $650,000 in the first year by individualizing interventions for employees at high risk of developing metabolic syndrome, according to peer-reviewed study.

Aetna is crediting genetic testing of employees for risk of metabolic syndrome for producing a quick return on investment in an employee wellness program.

The health insurer saved more than $650,000 in the first year by individualizing interventions for 445 employees at high risk of developing metabolic syndrome, according to an article published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Aetna called this the first study demonstrating that an employee wellness program can show ROI within a year.

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Significantly, 95 percent of study participants reported their weight at the beginning and end of the year, and 76 percent of those lost weight, a major risk factor in diabetes and metabolic syndrome. The study group also saw improvements in their triglycerides and HDL cholesterol as a result of the testing and tailored lifestyle changes.

Also, more than half of program enrollees stayed engaged with the program for at least 12 months, compared to the industry average of 15 percent. Newtopia, the Canadian startup that conducted the genetic testing and helped Aetna design the interventions, said that typical wellness programs don’t produce an ROI for 3-5 years, long after most participants have dropped out or switched jobs.

“The implications are that for lifestyle wellness programs to be successful, they need to be targeted to appropriate higher risk individuals, and be well designed and implemented,” wrote the study authors, all of whom are Aetna employees.

Photo: Flickr user Libertas Academica 

 

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