Congress to push on employee health issues

Competing for scarce human resources, companies are increasingly taking on the responsibilities for the health and wellness of their employees.

For a long time health policy decisions have soley been a matter for government and the health sector but that is changing. Improving the health of people through the workplace also reduces the burden of health on the hospital system.

These are the key issues to be discussed at the upcoming Institute of Health and Productivity Management (IHPM) 2nd Annual Australian Congress to be held in Sydney next month.

The theme of the Congress is ‘Demonstrating the Business Value of Good Health’. It has a strong focus on how to improve the asset value of the workforce’s health as a competitive strategy.

“The workplace is one of the most important opportunities to significantly improve the health of employees,” said Professor Rob Moodie, chair of the Government’s National Health Preventative Taskforce and keynote speaker at the congress.

There is a growing awareness amongst corporate and government employers that the workplace is a key component of the primary care model for the early detection and prevention of chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity and mental illness.

The congress will also feature for the first time a series of key case studies addressing work life strategies. Dr Catherine Hamilton, Medical Advisor for BP Australasia will share lessons learned over many years about the key principles for health program effectiveness in workplace environments. Plus a panel of blue chip companies including IBM, Unisys, NAB, GSK and VISY will form a panel of industry expertise to detail the challenges they have faced in corporate wellness strategies.

In an Australian first, deans of medical science at the Universities of New South Wales and Queensland will sit alongside the executive vice president of the University of Virginia (USA) and debate with the audience on five key questions; do we spend half our medical dollars in the last six months of life; will Australia ration medical care; does preventative care save money; with the advance on medical science will we need fewer physicians; and can consumers make the best decisions about their own health care?

The Australian Health & Productivity Management Congress will be held at the Sofitel Wentworth hotel in Sydney from 11-12 August 2008. It is expected to attract 200 senior decision makers and HR directors. It is organised by Interpoint Events on behalf of the Institute of Health & Productivity Management (USA) and the Health & Productivity Industry Association of Australia (HAPIA).

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