Should Corporations Consider a Chief Health Officer?

Screen Shot 2016-01-08 at 10.12.59 PMDr. David B. Agus is a professor of medicine and engineering at the University of Southern California, as well as author of several books, including his most recent, “The Lucky Years: How to Thrive in the Brave New World of Health.”

In the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Agus makes the case for the Chief Health Officer: “One of the greatest challenges corporations face today is ensuring the health and well-being of their employees. I have an uncomplicated solution for achieving this: appoint a chief health officer. ”

“Health and health-related spending are a big expense for all companies, and the numbers continue to climb. Fully 86% of employees today are above their normal weight or have a chronic condition, according to a Gallup survey a few years ago. They miss an estimated 450 million extra days of work a year compared with healthy workers, which a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says annually costs American businesses from $150 billion to a little more than $225 billion in lost productivity.”

Among the many benefits Dr. Agus lists,  he discusses the importance of:

  • Carrying out health-and-wellness programs that don’t alienate employees
  • Designing the workplace for optimal health and productiveness
  • Overseeing educational programs
  • Offering rewards and incentives when goals are met and commitments kept
  • Collecting and analyzing health data

As Dr. Agus concludes: “Corporations need to move away from thinking that health and wellness means setting up quiet rooms and discounts at local gyms. Instead, it means active, on-site leadership charged by top management with the mission of maintaining a healthy, productive workforce.”