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September 21, 2023

Nashville Chamber and FTI Consulting Study Finds Employer-Led Solutions Are Crucial for a Healthy Workforce

Nashville Chamber and FTI Consulting Study Finds Employer-Led Solutions Are Crucial for a Healthy Workforce

A public-private partnership of stakeholders spearheaded by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce Research Center and FTI Consulting, Inc. (NYSE: FCN) today announced the findings of a study examining the impact of health behaviors and chronic conditions on the Nashville-area workforce and economy.

The Nashville Region Health Competitiveness Initiative: 2017 Report, conducted by FTI Consulting’s Center for Healthcare Economics and Policy, found that the estimated annual costs to productivity in the Nashville region are $222.9 million for diabetes, $126.4 million for hypertension and $158 million for obesity. Strategies and interventions to address these conditions involving businesses, public entities, payors and providers can yield important benefits for employers, residents and communities and can offer lessons for other regions.

“Nashville-area employers are losing more than $500 million a year in productivity because of three chronic conditions — diabetes, obesity and hypertension — all of which can be impacted by the behavior of individual employees,” said Ralph Schulz, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce. “We hope this report serves as a catalyst for engaging Nashville-area employers in improving our region’s health culture. With nearly 1 million workers in the Nashville region, there is great opportunity for the business community to address these health challenges while simultaneously creating a more sustainable and productive workforce.”

The 2017 report builds on the 2015 Assessment of Nashville Region Health, Cost, Access and Quality: Results of a Pilot Study, which also evaluated physician supply and cost and found healthcare was relatively more affordable in Nashville compared with other areas analyzed.

“This report is a major advance in our understanding of health as an economic issue,” said Margaret Guerin-Calvert, President of the Center for Healthcare Economics and Policy at FTI Consulting. “Many communities and business leaders are increasingly focusing on economic and health impacts of specific chronic conditions that lead to higher medical costs and hinder productivity and ultimately quality of life in a community. The cost of standing still is too great. We hope other communities across the nation can learn from these findings and understand how health impacts their competitiveness.”

The report uses commercial claims data to assess the Nashville region’s medical and productivity costs for chronic health conditions and compares Nashville with 10 peer metropolitan regions. Other key findings include:

  • The prevalence of diabetes, obesity, hypertension, COPD and depression is higher in the Nashville region than in many peer cities and is often higher than the national average, especially for ages 45-64. Older workers play a vital role in meeting the workforce needs of many Nashville-area industries.
  • Costs to businesses include lost productivity due to time away from work (absenteeism) and lost productivity due to impact of illness while at work (presenteeism).
  • Diabetics in the Nashville area average an 11 percent hospitalization rate, 15 outpatient visits and 14 prescriptions annually. Hypertension results in an average 10 percent hospitalization rate, 14 outpatient visits and 12 prescriptions annually.
  • Physicians and primary care visits serve as important touchpoints and access to care. High rates of health services utilization in the Nashville area suggest opportunity for improving health outcomes.

“A healthy population actively participates in the life and economy of a region,” said Bill Purcell, former mayor of Nashville, partner at Farmer Purcell White & Lassiter, PLLC, and a member of FTI Consulting’s Center for Healthcare Economics and Policy Advisory Board. “We’re fortunate to have a chamber that recognizes the importance of this issue and emphasizes the role business can play in health improvement. The health of our community can be addressed powerfully through workplace and employer influences.”

Support for the study came from BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Community Health Systems, the Greater Nashville Regional Council, The HCA Foundation, The Healing Trust, the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Nashville Health Care Council, Saint Thomas Health and Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

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