Strategic healthcare management at ERGO - Shaping the workplace
After respiratory illnesses spinal conditions are the main cause of incapacity to work. Both result to a great extent from lack of movement and bad posture. A predominantly sedentary lifestyle both at work and at home, without adequate stimulation of the musculoskeletal system, is a prime risk factor for neck and shoulder and lower back problems.
In 1999 ERGO Versicherungsgruppe AG approached the Forschungs- und Präventionszentrum Köln (FPZ), a research centre specialising in spinal problems, in order to identify the connection between muscular deficiencies and back complaints for individual employees at the Cologne office (DKV Krankenversicherung AG). The anonymised analysis showed a significant connection between the existence and extent of spinal complaints and muscular deficiencies and dysbalance. On the basis of these findings, in 2000 ERGO Versicherungsgruppe AG set up its own research, prevention and training centre (ERGO Rückenzentrum Köln).
Qualified therapists offer supervised training sessions from Monday to Friday between 07:00 and 19:00 in accordance with the quality guidelines of the FPZ. So far 619 people have completed a back strengthening programme. Even after 13 years the training facility has an average of 82% utilization.
The project was conducted in close cooperation with FPZ: Deutschland den Rücken stärken GmbH. A training programme including sub-acute therapy for spinal complaints has been developed by FPZ. In accordance with special contracts this treatment is covered by health insurance.
Impacts and benefits
Scientific evaluation of the participants’ data shows inter alia the following findings: well-being and subjective performance both improve by 35%; the number of days suffering with back or neck problems reduce by 48%; absenteeism due to spinal complaints drops from an average of 2 days to 0.3 days per year.
Following this success, the project was extended to the Düsseldorf office in 2010. 380 people have already taken part in the back strengthening programme there.