Pharmacogenomics Impact Shown

A study by Green Shield Canada (GSC) and HBM+ (its health benefit management solutions division) has found participants in a pharmacogenomics-guided group had significantly greater improvements over a six-month period across a range of clinical outcome measures. This confirms the value of tailoring drug treatment to a person’s genetic makeup, it says. The single-blinded randomized controlled study followed outpatients who had been diagnosed with major mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety. Participants were randomly assigned to a control group, where drug optimization was based solely on a pharmacist’s clinical judgment, and an experimental group, where a pharmacist delivered pharmacogenomics-guided treatment. Specifically, it found improvements of 36 per cent and 18 per cent from baseline depression severity in the pharmacogenomics and control group, respectively. Similarly, the outcomes for anxiety and disability were around two times greater in the pharmacogenomics-related group compared with the control group. David Willows, GSC’s executive vice-president ‒ digital, innovation, and brand experience, says “Moving forward, the study data presents a compelling picture of the important role that pharmacogenomics can play in optimizing drug therapy and helping pharmacists and physicians to improve patient health.”

Overall Health Requires Equilibrium

How you are physically, psychologically, and financially are interconnected, says Charmaine Alexander, senior advisor, disability management, Desjardins Insurance. Speaking at the Benefits and Pensions Monitor Meetings & Events webinar ‘Overall Health: The key to employee well-being during and after the pandemic,’ she said the equilibrium between these three components is called overall health. A 2018 survey by Desjardins found 83 per cent of healthy people say they can manage their financial stress. As well, 73 per cent of financially healthy people also reported being in good mental health. Conversely, 43 per cent of people in poor physical health, had a hard time managing their financial stress and 61 per cent of those in fair or poor financial health reported struggling with mental health issues. “So clearly we see that these three factors are very closely linked,” she said. And that was before the pandemic. However, the pandemic has led employers to take better care of their employees, she said. The company’s employers that weather the storm will be those that have risen to this challenge and it’s time to go from “managing human resources to managing resources humanely.” Moving into the future and new normal means management has to implement a culture of overall health, combining physical, mental, and financial health. The shift to more compassionate management practices may happen almost organically for some organizations. “The key is now staying the course throughout this crisis as it becomes a long-term reality with physical distancing and teleworking maybe here to stay,” she said.

Smarter Future In Store

There’s no doubt that the future is going to be smarter, says Alaina MacKenzie, regional vice-president, business development, at Medavie Blue Cross. She told the ‘Putting Plan Members in the Driver’s Seat’ session at CPBI FORUM 2020 that innovations are making healthcare more targeted and personalized. And as the “COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, there may be things on the healthcare horizon that we can’t really anticipate or don’t see coming. However, we can always adjust,” she said. The pandemic have been a strong reminder that with change comes challenge, but it also opens up possibility for healthcare possibilities for today’s patients. By building solutions that enable, engage, and empower Canadians, “we can help put plan members in the driver’s seat in their own healthcare with their insurer and their advisor and their plan sponsor all as co-pilots on the road to better health and wellness.” Many would suggest that healthcare is in the midst of a similar revolution to that innovative disruptors such as Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon have introduced ‒ simplified, affordable services and products to their marketplaces that absolutely revolutionized their respective industries. “Arguably one of the best things that can happen for all of us as we create environments that will empower people as plan members and patients to take direct and active roles in their healthcare and healthcare decisions is our ability to shift the burden away from critical care avenues like hospitals, emergency rooms, and urgent care clinics,” she said.

Canadian Employees Doing Well

In almost all aspects, employees living in Canada seem to be doing well compared to employees in other markets and the vast majority of them recognize the efforts made by their employers to help support them during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, says Randstad’s ‘Workmonitor’ study. It found globally, 74 per cent of respondents say they are satisfied at work. In Canada, 79 per cent also say they are satisfied. Ahead of Canada are India (92 per cent), Argentina (82 per cent), and the United States (80 per cent). Portugal, Hong Kong, and Japan are the markets with the lowest satisfaction rates. Overall, 75 per cent of respondents think their employer is taking care of their well-being during the pandemic. Here, Canada (77 per cent) ranks sixth after China (90 per cent), India (87 per cent), Australia (82 per cent), Argentina (80 per cent), and the United States (78 per cent). Of Canadian respondents, 76 per cent say that they are able to shift working hours to better divide their attention between family and professional obligations. Globally, 73 per cent of respondents agree. Japan is at the bottom of the list with only 49 per cent who claim to have this freedom.

AON Trained In Responsible Investment

Nearly 500 of Aon plc’s financial and investment professionals have completed training in responsible investment via the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) Academy. The academy provides environmental, social, and governance (ESG) education and training services for financial services, corporate, and other professionals seeking to learn how these issues impact company performance, shareholder value, and investment decision-making. Aon says 82 per cent of investors report responsible investing is at least somewhat important to their organization, up from 68 per cent in 2018. This growth occurred across all geographic regions and institutional investor types, which include corporate pensions, public pensions, endowments and foundations, and defined contribution plans. In Canada, 78 per cent of investors report it is important to their organization, up from 68 per cent in 2018 “Organizations are increasingly recognizing that an understanding of the material risks and opportunities around ESG considerations is essential in today’s complex world of financial analysis,” says Graeme Griffiths, chief operating officer of the PRI. “Training staff to better understand these issues is vital to both corporate and investment performance.”

Independent Review Joins CETFA

Independent Review Inc. has joined the Canadian ETF Association (CETFA). Pat Dunwoody, executive director of CETFA, says Independent Review will be able to support it and its members with fund governance best practices. Since 2004, Independent Review has helped define best practices in investment fund governance as well as sound governance for public companies and not-for-profits.