Looking back, we have seen that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to many people:
- Becoming physically inactive,
- Overeating and stress eating,
- Dealing with challenging family dynamics, and
- Struggling with mental health.
As a result, it’s likely that we are facing a tsunami of increased risk for chronic disease and an increase in chronic disease diagnoses – creating higher costs for employers.
What’s the answer? You may think it’s managing employees’ health conditions, when in fact you need to prevent, reverse, and slow progression by intervening with primary prevention through habit change.
Stopping the Coming Tsunami of Increased Risk
Newtopia is pioneering the habit change provider category. In US healthcare, physicians are focused on diagnosing and treating disease. Preventive care comes in the form of regular checkups and screenings. However, when it comes to helping those at risk of developing a chronic disease, physicians don’t have an effective intervention to address the challenge. The only thing they can do is recommend their patients lose weight and increase their exercise. They can suggest a specific diet or specific exercises, but that’s typically as far as it goes.
Employers have a similar dilemma. Although many pay for their employees to join a gym or participate in a weight loss program, it’s rare to see the level of results that translate into long-term health improvements for employees or medical cost reduction for the employer.
But that could all change. Newtopia tried and tested approach that’s gaining momentum is the idea of the habit change provider. Unlike a medical provider, a habit change provider is a partner that employers can leverage to help employees create lifestyle habits that bring significant and sustainable improved health—mental and physical—over time.
How is a habit change provider different?
Typical weight loss and fitness programs offered by many employers don’t go far enough; they focus primarily on the numbers on the scale to measure success. Habit change providers, on the other hand, focus on preventing, reversing, and slowing the progression of chronic disease. A part of that focus includes enhancing mental health, resilience, and human performance. It’s an integrated approach designed around the whole person.
Another difference is in the way typical health and fitness programs are constructed, which is similar to classroom curriculum. In other words, the content and approach are the same for every participant. The hope, then, is that each person will find something that works for them. A habit change provider differs in that each participant has a unique curriculum and plan customized based on their individual needs, medical history, social determinants of health, personal preferences, and lifestyle. Habit change providers even go so far as to incorporate a person’s genetic makeup, which can help further refine the program that’s best for them.
Yet another difference is in the style of support. There are a few programs that offer weekly support groups or text support, which are sometimes nothing more than bots delivering standardized responses. A habit change provider, on the other hand, includes dedicated coaches who are specially trained in all aspects of health and well-being. Program participants have 24/7 access to coaches through an app so that help and encouragement are always available. Participants typically meet weekly via video or phone call to discuss progress and how to overcome any obstacles the individual may be struggling with. The primary role of these coaches, however, is to inspire participants to keep going. They give participants the knowledge and encouragement they need to succeed. Unlike typical programs, participants are not left to sink or swim on their own.
Newtopia is a one such habit change provider with more than 375,000 at-risk lives under contract. The effectiveness of Newtopia’s approach was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The report was based on a randomized controlled trial of at-risk employees at insurance giant Aetna. The study found that sustained engagement with Newtopia’s habit change program significantly lowered participants’ metabolic risk factors, which resulted in a reduction of $1,464 in medical costs per participant in just the first year.1 In addition to this study, Newtopia has achieve similar results with numerous Fortune 500 companies.
A new approach
The COVID pandemic has highlighted the danger of chronic disease—a pandemic of a different kind that’s been escalating over the past few decades. The current approach of offering one-size-fits-all weight loss or fitness programs fall short of producing results for either the employee or the employer. To create true, lasting change requires a program that goes beyond just managing health risk; it requires the reduction or elimination of health risk. And the only way to achieve that is through lifestyle changes achieved over time. Partnering with a habit change provider like Newtopia is the answer.