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Integrating Employee Health: A Model Program for NASA
NASA centers,1 published reports about NASA, and reviews of literature. Specific recommendations for addressing these findings appear in the following sections of this summary.
FINDING 1: The occupational health mission statement at NASA is designed and directed to meet the health needs of NASA employees; however, there is a need to bring this mission statement into alignment with a mission-driven vision for the NASA organization.
FINDING 2: Most organizations, public and private, follow a traditional model for providing health care to employees in which the focus is on disease status rather than health status, treatment rather than preventive care, an individual medical model rather than population-based health model, and single- rather than multiple-risk interventions, with segregated rather than integrated management systems. NASA is similar in its current approach to occupational and preventive health care. Although there is collection of information on employee health and program use, the data collected lack uniformity and consistency within and between NASA centers. In addition, there is a need to strengthen communication lines between NASA’s Headquarters and centers.
FINDING 3: The traditional approach to occupational health care leads to segregated rather than integrated health programs (Table ES-1). The needs of the modern knowledge-based workforce in a high-performance organization require an approach beyond those traditionally used in occupational health. As currently implemented at NASA, such an approach is not conducive to meeting the health care needs of employees in a large, decentralized organization.
FINDING 4: There is a need for more effective, coordinated, and data-driven health program policy development to support the agency’s mission and goals.
THE CASE FOR CHANGE
NASA serves as an excellent prototype for the twenty-first-century organization, challenged with increasing demands and a changing American workforce. Just as the agency’s scientific and engineering breakthroughs have improved everyday life, so too can NASA’s strategy for analyzing and improving the health and productivity of its workforce serve as a model for other U.S. employers.
Ames Research Center, Glenn Research Center, Goddard Space Flight Center, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Johnson Space Center, and Kennedy Space Center.