You've probably experienced the frustration of attending a presentation or class where the first half covers things you already know before you get to the new material. If so, you know how valuable the triage principle can be.
In medicine, triage is a system designed to produce the greatest benefit from limited treatment resources. In wellness, a triage system focuses resources — so those who need the most help get it, and those who need less receive less. The stages of change model outlined by Prochaska and DeClemente in the early '80s offers a framework for health promotion triage by identifying stages of readiness:
Is it national health statistics? Health risk appraisal results? Health benefit costs? Workers compensation claims?
For years, wellness managers have been using data like this to determine where to direct resources. And for good reason — each can be tied directly to costs. There’s only one problem with this approach: In most instances, the people who create the costs don’t care.
That’s a hard thing to accept. We think if we simply identify the high-cost/high-risk users, approach them with information, support what’s good for them — all while reducing the organization’s expense — they’ll naturally modify their lifestyle and we’ll all live happily ever after. Not so much.
We use 2 reality phrases when consulting with organizations about how to invest health promotion resources:
Have you noticed a shift in your workforce vibe? Gen-X employees are heading over the hill on the heels of their Baby Boomer coworkers, and neither group is retiring anytime soon. Graying of the labor market is in progress; how will your workplace well-being program adapt to better serve this snowballing demographic?