Summary: Three years ago, Kauley Jones, vice president
for sales and marketing for Immunolabs, a vendor of diagnostic testing services to integrative
practitioners, began educating herself to the
economic “plight of employers” regarding health-related costs and the potential
link to integrative practice. She was stimulated to do so by her integrative practitioner clients. Jones learned that the most significant cost of
poor employee health is not medical costs but something employers call
“presenteeism” – basically, health-related productivity issues. Jones began
creating a multi-year Immunolabs initiative to support integrative physicians
who wish to learn the language and culture that will allow them to serve “this (other) stakeholder which has a vested interest in health.”
for inclusion in
a future Your Comments Forum.
I reconnected with the Institute for Health and Productivity Management (IHPM) last
fall to help stimulate dialogue between employers and integrative practitioners,
I learned of an extraordinary development. Immuno Laboratories(Immunolabs), a vendor of laboratory
services to integrative physicians, had invited IHPM’s co-founder and CEO, Sean
Sullivan, to keynote a November 2007 Immunolabs-sponsored conference. The entire focus of the
conference was on awakening Immunolabs’ practitioner clients – mainly integrative medical doctors, naturopathic physicians and chiropractors – to the language and skills
required to serve the interest of employers in health and productivity
recently contacted Kauley Jones, the Immunolabs vice president who developed
this initiative. I wanted to know about the firm’s journey into this relatively uncharted zone. We
spoke about her discovery of the “employer’s plight” regarding health-related costs, her instinct that
integrative practitioners could fill a significant need, and the strategic moves
Immunolabs has since taken, through conferences and other services, to help bridge
this language and culture gap. The goal, like the Integrator employer initiative, is to spark connectivity between integrative interests is health
creation and this other “stakeholder which has a vested
interest in health.”
Immunolabs is a lab company. Why focus on this? Big Pharma vendors are working with employers in many ways but I’ve never heard of a vendor associated with integrative
practice doing so.
We had been hearing from our doctors for some time that many of them wanted to
get in with corporations. So I started
reading articles about corporations and the issues they were dealing with. It
was an education to me to see their plight with the health of their employees. Somewhere
in this research I came across the idea of “presenteeism” [a productivity
indicator] that they were talking about. This was interesting. I thought our
practitioners would be able to make contributions there.
Integrator: It was the concept of presenteeism and
metrics for evaluating interventions which targeted productivity that got me
thinking more deeply about employers too. Integrative practitioners often talk
about their ability to give employees more energy, relieve depression, back off
on drugs the patients don’t like, be able to do more things. These are
potentially all productivity-related.
Jones: Presenteeism is huge – this idea that a person can be present at the workplace
but not functioning at peak productivity and that there were interventions that
could be measured in ways that show up as dollars saved.
Integrator: So this is how you got to Sean and IHPM – they’ve been leaders in this work for
Jones: Yes, through presenteeism I discovered IHPM. I’ve been focusing on IHPM for a
couple of years, going to their conferences, because here in these employers was
a stakeholder with a invested interest in health, in change. They were talking
about the importance of healthy employees. I started going to their
conferences. One time Sean [Sullivan, IHPM’s co-founder and CEO] talked from
the podium about what they didn’t yet have in the room. They had the
corporations, and managed care firms. Sean said that what is missing are the
physicians. I thought of a couple of physicians we have across the country, and
what they are doing and thought, ‘Boy, this could be a great resource for their
employers.’ I also noted that the employers are somewhat lacking in their
programs. They’re still focused on things like smoking cessation and getting
employees to take their meds. I thought we could help take them the next step.
Integrator: But there is not any direct benefit to Immunolabs in this work.
Jones: We work more closely with our physicians than many do. Of course, we know in
the grand scheme of things that if we give it will come back to us. This was a
way to serve our clients.
Integrator: You mentioned that some of your doctors showed an interest in getting in with
corporations. What kinds of things have you heard?
Jones: We started polling our physicians and asking them if any were doing anything
with corporations. I was surprised to find that we had some who were getting
out there. Mark Hyman (MD) is one of our testers [of our laboratory products].
He’s talking with a number of corporations with his Ultra Wellness program. We also
have a couple of doctors in Phoenix who are making some inroads. Another
regularly is a doctor on corporate wellness cruises.
Integrator: You had a conference in November of 2007 on this topic. How did the conference
Jones: We decided in June  to do a conference. It went really well, we think. We
had 120 attend.
Integrator: So what was the content like?
The goal with the first conference was to get physicians to the table to
educate them to the terminology so they could talk to employers. I knew when I went
to the IHPM that employers were talking a foreign language. Our doctors can go
to a company and talk one way and it will mean nothing. But if you phrase it
differently, you can enter. We had Sean [Sullivan, IHPM CEO] there to keynote. So
we talked about presenteeism and outcomes measuring. He showed the physicians that they need
to be looking at what is impairing people from being their most productive. To
some physicians this is a foreign language. If we can frame what our physicians
do in corporate terminology, we have a pretty good opportunity on a grassroots
level to make some change.
Integrator: It would be nice to develop a little glossary to help with this cross-over
Jones: Yes, that would be very useful. We could work on that.
Integrator: Maybe we could work on it together – I’d
love to publish it here. You are planning a follow-up conference then?
Jones: This fall  we will have our second. We don’t have the dates yet. This
will enhance the dialogue. We already had a symptom check list that some of our
physicians were using. We added some productivity-related questions. We have 10
sites now that are gathering data. They’ll do follow-ups at 30 days and 60
days. We know that this is short term, but it’s a start. We expect to have data
on a few hundred patients. We’ll be sharing some of these outcomes.
Integrator: Well, your work is visionary. I think it
is just what we need. Thanks for your vision. I’ll plan to keep reporting how
this initiative plays out!
Note & Disclosure: For a You-Tube interview with IHPM’s Sullivan from the Immunolabs conference, click here. IHPM is an Integrator sponsor.
for inclusion in a future Your Comments Forum.