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New Report Raises the Bar for Cluelessness in Wellness

This is Part 2 of the $895 IBISWorld Wellness Industry Report review.  Here is Part 1.

What do you get for your $895?  To begin with, some of the most creative facts we’ve ever seen, delivered in some of the most creative sentence structures we’ve ever seen, Yet, tempting as it may be, we’re going to completely ignore head-scratchers like:

Wellness firms may offer employers stress management courses and sessions that offer music therapy, aromatherapy, Tai Chi, and post disaster stress reduction through coaching.

Government-funded initiatives that promote wellness to cut costs related to chronic ailments (e.g., obesity and diabetes) has further exacerbated many businesses movement toward purchasing corporate wellness services.

And my favorite:

The industry provides wellness programs to businesses across the United States, including small, medium and large businesses in the private sector and businesses in the public sector.  

“Businesses in the public sector”? I knew that many of our legislators are for sale but I didn’t realize they had incorporated.

I’ve read this next one several times and still can’t figure out what they are saying, other than they don’t realize (1) that health screenings and biometric tests are basically the same thing; (2) that it is impossible to take someone’s blood pressure without including both the systolic and diastolic readings; (3) and that prior to publication they should have had this material reviewed by a smart person:

IBISWorld dumb statement about HRAs and screenings

Ok, we’re done completely ignoring these head-scratchers now.


Instead we will focus on the fact that most of what they report is simply wrong, like: “There is increasing acceptance of the value of programs offered by this industry.”  For example, they claim that the ROI for corporate wellness, according to RAND, is $3.80 per dollar invested.  I would have to exhaust America’s entire strategic reserve of electrons in order to point out everything wrong with that figure. Besides its general ludicrousness, there is the slight problem that RAND itself says exactly the opposite:

RAND May report quote

How could they be so clueless, even by the standards of wellness?  Even though this is a wellness industry report, and most wellness companies don’t touch disease management, they mistook the RAND ROI for disease management as the ROI for wellness.  Despite RAND being cited more than 100 times, nowhere did they bother to mention that RAND says wellness loses money. Hello?  What did you expect for a measly $895?  (In all fairness, if you look hard enough, at one point they say RAND says that “lifestyle management” saves a “mere $6.0 [sic]” per employee per month.)

So basically the fact that wellness loses money–which at this point even the Health Enhancement Research Organization itself acknowledges–is completely missing.

There are also a huge number of statements that make no sense when placed side by side. So “wages comprise 3-4% of industry revenue,” making wellness possibly the least labor-intensive industry in the country. Yet, several pages later, IBISWorld decides that “the industry is labor-intensive.”

The Largest Wellness Companies?

You’d think for $895 they could at least identify the largest independent wellness companies.  No such luck. They anoint ComPsych as the largest. I personally had never even heard of them, and what employee is going to give personal health information to a company named ComPsych?  IBISWorld got one thing right — ComPsych does at least offer wellness — if you squint hard enough:


The other two they name are ValueOptions, now Beacon Health Options, and Ceridian.  Not sure where they came up with the idea that those are the largest. Neither is even in the wellness screening business.  They might as well have named Dunder Mifflin or Vandelay Industries.

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