Placing Workplace Wellness in Proper Context: Value Beyond Money

By Nicolaas P. Pronk, PhD, MA

Most companies in the United States now offer some kind of wellness programming to their employees. In 2012, about half of US employers with at least 50 employees and more than 90% with more than 50,000 employees offered a workplace wellness program (1).

Employer surveys (eg, the 2011 Automatic Data Processing Survey) suggest that the most often-cited reasons for offering these programs include improved employee health, health care cost control, increased productivity, and absenteeism reduction. Each of these reasons is quantifiable, and their value can be monetized, allowing for a calculation of savings and an estimation of a return on investment (ROI).

Yet it isn’t necessarily always about saving money. Dr Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and chief executive officer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, notes in a recent online post that companies committed to nurturing a culture of well-being consider broader motivations, including low turnover rates, attraction of top candidates, job satisfaction, and recruitment and retention of workers (2). Each factor was reported as being a more important driver of workplace wellness programs than ROI.

There is understandable interest in learning if, and how, workplace wellness programs produce results and generate savings. Publications on the effect of workplace wellness on financial outcomes continue to accumulate (1–5), but instead of producing consistency and clarity, they have introduced doubt and controversy. Systematic reviews and meta-analytic findings indicate that workplace wellness can generate savings (3). However, recent ROI studies indicate that such savings come only from disease management (DM) programs not lifestyle management (LM) programs (1). To gain clarity, 2 issues must be addressed. First, there is a need to standardize the definition of workplace wellness programs so that casual use of what constitutes such programs can be avoided. Second, research approaches should more explicitly recognize that workplace wellness programs generate a range of outcomes, many of them non–health related, that provide substantial value to employers even though they are often not represented in ROI analyses.

This essay addresses these 2 issues in the context of a set of best practice program-design principles that allow for properly designed workplace wellness programs to be differentiated from other activities that, although well-intended, may not rise to the level of a bona fide program.

Read the article.

Countdown to PHA Forum 2014: The Employer Perspective

On a special broadcast Tuesday, October 7th, 2014 at 12 Noon Eastern and 9 AM Pacific we continue the 2nd installment in the series Countdown to the Population Health Alliance PHA Forum 2014.

Listen here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/healthtechmedia/2014/10/07/countdown-to-pha-forum-the-employer-perspective

The PHA Forum is an annual ‘go to’ industry standard for the entire ecosystem of population health management stakeholders including innovators in accountable care, care management and the general pursuit of the triple aim – better care, improved outcomes and lower per capita cost. This dynamic community gathers in Scottsdale, Arizona from December 10th – 12th.

On this broadcast we hear from Brian Klepper, health care analyst and the CEO of The National Business Coalition on Health (NBCH) who will supply an overview of the large employer persepctive and by proxy the essence of the purchaser communities message to the domestic provider community writ large.

More about NBCH:

The National Business Coalition on Health (NBCH) is a national, non-profit 501(c)6, membership organization of purchaser-led health care coalitions. NBCH and its members are dedicated to value-based purchasing of health care services through the collective action of public and private purchasers. NBCH seeks to accelerate the nation’s progress towards safe, efficient, high-quality health care and the improved health status of the American population.

NBCH has a membership of 53 coalitions across the United States representing over 4,000 employers and approximately 35 million employees and their dependents.

A detailed agenda for the PHA Forum 2014 is available here. For more information, or to register click here.

DEADLINE EXTENDED for PHA Forum 2014 International Symposium Call for Papers – May 15

The Population Health Alliance has extended the Call for Proposals for the 4th International Symposium of Wellness and Chronic Care to be held at the PHA Forum 2014, December 10-12, in Scottsdale, Arizona. The theme is Collaborate + Communicate = Engage with a focus on best practices, outcomes and replicability of findings.  Find out more about PHA Forum 2014
 
This year, the call for proposals is very different… and exciting. Begin your abstract submission.
 
The International Symposium on Wellness & Chronic Care, held in conjunction with the PHA Forum, will facilitate a comprehensive exchange of information on wellness, prevention, chronic condition management and other population health strategies from around the globe. The primary presenter must live and work full time outside of the United States; proposals without an international representative will not be considered.
 
All abstracts must be submitted online through the PHA Forum 2014, by the EXTENDED DEADLINE, May 15, 2014. 
 
You do not need to be a PHA member to submit a proposal. 
 

Interview with PHA Executive Director: From CCA to the Population Health Alliance

Fred Goldstein, interim Executive Director of the Population Health Alliance was interviewed at the HIMSS 2014 conference, in Orlando, about the re-branding of the Care Continuum Alliance to the Population Health Alliance, the association’s research and advocacy priorities, and the annual conference, PHA Forum 2014.

Worth watching:

PHA Forum Logo Final-01

NEW at CCA Forum 2013: Walking Learning Labs

Care Continuum Alliance Forum 2013This year the CCA Forum has made it easier than ever to make meaningful, face-to-face connections between attendees and exhibitors through our new Walking Learning Labs.

These unique, hands-on demonstrations are intended to help you determine the value of specific solutions for your organization. The Walking Learning Labs are guided and facilitated by CCA researchers and provide attendees with an opportunity to explore particular areas of interest throughout the exhibit hall. Register today!

Walking-Learning-Labs

Partners’ Center for Connected Health: CCA Members Employee Wellness Showcase

Partners HealthCare Center for Connected Health's 2012 Progress Report Forward CurrentsEmployee wellness competition shown to statistically reduce weight, improve BMI and significantly greater satisfaction with weight by MGH employees

Partners’ Center for Connected Health (CCH) and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) at Revere partnered in a joint effort to improve employee wellness. Utilizing an activity monitor, 37 employees participated in a 6 month challenge to increase physical activity and decrease weight. Every month, employees experienced new and fresh program challenges such as the “buddy system,” “frenemies” and “top your highest score.” This wellness program measured step count, self-reported weight data, and dietary habits through surveys and activity data reports.

Employee weight and BMI decreased significantly during the six month program. On average, weight decreased by 4.56 lbs (M= 167.29, SD = 50.58) to M = 162.73, SD = 46.40); t(29) = -2.75, p = 0.010) and BMI decreased from a mean of 29.33 (SD = 8.66) to 28.52 (SD = 7.99) (t(25) = -2.52, p = 0.0186). In addition, employees reported being more satisfied with their weight at the end of the program (t(34) = 3.055, p = 0.004). There was no change in self-rated health.NEWM_2013_Supporter_Logo_f

Employees agreed that since joining the program they were more likely to make choices that increased their physical activity (81%), felt better about themselves (70%), were better able to reach their physical activity goals (57%), and had improved weight control (56%). Seventy-seven percent agreed that competing with other employees helped them to be more active. Ninety-one percent said they were satisfied with the program.

Among the 37 employees that participated, 32 uploaded step count data, measured using wireless activity monitors. Average daily steps deceased from 5,597 in August to 3,226 in December (t(62) = -2.941, p = 0.0046). Self-reported days of exercise per week, however, increased from 2.2 (SD = 1.85) to 3.3 (SD = 1.78) days  (t(36) = 3.037, p = 0.004). There was no change in minutes of physical activity per week or in the proportion of employees who meet CDC recommended levels of activity. There was no change in fruit, vegetables, or soda consumed.

Overall, there was a statistically significant drop in weight, BMI and a significantly greater satisfaction with weight by MGH employees who participated in this employee wellness competition.

Engage with Partners’ Center for Connected Health

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Center-for-Connected-Health/297446901564?ref=ts

Twitter: @connectedhealth

Capital BlueCross: CCA Members Employee Wellness Showcase

Here’s what Capital BlueCross President and CEO Gary D. St. Hilaire had to say about the strategic importance of the comprehensive wellness program available to company employees:

“Employees are our most important asset, and without question nothing is more important than their good health.  A key corporate priority is to enhance organizational and employee performance, which includes our comprehensive employee wellness program.  When employees are healthier, they are happier and more engaged in seeing the company succeed.  Living healthier is important for each of us personally and for the business.  On behalf of the entire management team, I wish all employees much success with their healthy endeavors.”

According to the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO), a national non-profit organization that serves as a leader in the creation of employee health management research, education, policy, strategy, and infrastructure, Capital BlueCross offers its employees one of the most comprehensive employer-based wellness programs in the nation.  The Capital BlueCross Employee Wellness Program achieved a HERO Scorecard rating of 183 out of a possible 200 points. The average rating nationwide is 93.  Capital BlueCross also recently achieved the prestigious American Heart Association Fit Friendly Award.

Likewise, the wellness incentives Capital BlueCross offers employees are among the best in the nation.  According to standards set by the Wellness Council of America, taking into consideration the many programs that qualify for incentives, the different types of incentives available (gift cards, HSA contributions, special promotions), and the dollar value of incentives available.  By participating in a variety of voluntary screenings, wellness activities and healthy community events, employees have the opportunity to earn up to $650 in incentives for their healthy endeavors.

Capital BlueCross provides employees all of the following onsite:

  • Health clinics and fairs
  • Biometric, blood pressure and skin cancer screenings
  • State-of-the-art fitness facilities
  • One-on-one fitness, nutrition, stress management, weight management, tobacco management and other classes and coaching
  • Zumba, yoga and tai chi classes
  • Lactation area
  • Care management counseling
  • etc.

The Capital BlueCross Employee Wellness Program also offers employees an array of digital coaching and activity trackers to help employees successfully achieve their healthy endeavors.

A near $50,000 (127.7%) return on investment was achieved in 2012 for company-paid flu shots, when considering the impact to medical costs and productivity.  All told, Capital BlueCross realized a $1.7 million savings based on programs offered, participation and health/disability-related cost avoidance.

Active Health: CCA Members Employee Wellness Showcase

Empowering better health and wellness: A member success story

Meet Joe.* At 200 pounds, Joe realized he was overweight. He wanted to start eating right and exercising, but he couldn’t seem to find a way to make these activities a priority. Fortunately, Joe connected with ActiveHealth and gained support that helped him lose 40 pounds. Today he is healthier, happier and has reduced his risk for a variety of chronic conditions.

As a leading provider of integrated population health improvement services, ActiveHealth Management partners with employers to develop customized solutions that empower better health and wellness. We have recently enhanced our offerings by developing a multi-modal and personalized approach to health improvement. Joe is one of those members we were able to connect with and help along each step of his unique journey.NEWM_2013_Supporter_Logo_f

ActiveHealth’s Care Engine® technology continuously reviews population health data and matches it with evidence-based clinical best practices to proactively identify gaps in care and opportunities to improve employee health. This system identified Joe, who had significant risk factors because of his sedentary lifestyle and the fact that he was 40 pounds overweight. ActiveHealth also captured Joe’s preference for one-on-one support through self-reported data. As a result, he was immediately referred to an ActiveHealth coaching program.   

A health coach connected with Joe to help him develop a personalized roadmap to reach his wellness goals. Our coaches are expertly trained at building strong relationships with individuals and determining the right course of action to meet their unique challenges. In Joe’s case, he needed help implementing an exercise plan, staying motivated and dealing with stress. His health coach helped him set realistic goals and provided the tools, information and support he needed.

Joe also had access to other ActiveHealth programs and services, including a completely refreshed online portal, on-site biometric screenings, mobile health applications, employee communications, incentive programs and much more.  Wherever Joe is, he has access to the guidance and resources he needs to stay on the path to better health. In addition, the tools give employers visibility into the impact the programs are having on population health so they can also see the success.

Over a nine month period, Joe reached a weight of 178 pounds. His early success, along with ongoing support from his ActiveHealth lifestyle coach, continues to motivate him to make positive lifestyle changes.

Visit activehealth.com to learn more. 

* Joe is a real member — we’ve simply changed his name to protect his privacy. 

Engage with Active Health in Social Media

Twitter: @ActiveHealth

The Joslin Diabetes Center: CCA Members Employee Wellness Showcase

The Joslin Diabetes Center’s Center of Excellence for People with Complex Diabetes

The economic impact of the diabetes pandemic has been estimated at some $245 billion each year by the American Diabetes Association. A significant portion of that cost falls on small businesses and corporations as the result of increasing cost of healthcare insurance, lost work and employee disability.

Diabetes can be managed, as a rule, with proper care (medication and education) and lifestyle modification. But there is mounting evidence that the “usual care” does not work for those employees who are most at risk for disease progression and increased complications leading to disability and high and costly utilization of the healthcare system.  Estimates maintain that this applies to about 25% of adults with diabetes, or about 2% of the adult workforce.NEWM_2013_Supporter_Logo_f

Joslin Diabetes Center, in Boston, MA, has created the Center of Excellence (COE) for People with Complex Diabetes to address the need for an alternate form of care for these patients.  This program builds on Joslin’s long history of innovative clinical programming for individuals needing interventional re-orientation to their diabetes self-management. And it supported by a new, custom-built on-line infrastructure.

The COE program involves an intensive, one-week assessment, treatment and educational program at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. At the end of the week, the patient returns home and is followed for three months of e-clinical support, assessment and adjustment of medications and self-management programs (including the Weight Management on line program), as well as six months of e-coaching, web-based education and group interactions using an on-line chat room monitored by a Joslin educator.

Unlike standard diabetes treatment regimens in which the components are most often isolated and poorly coordinated, the COE follows the JoslinCare model of multidisciplinary, highly integrated care. Each patient is assessed for a full range of diabetes complications (eye, kidney, nerve, etc.) and is seen by a comprehensive team of doctors, nurses, psychologists, nutritionists, and educators who are all part of the Joslin Clinic staff.

At the conclusion of the one-week on-site visit, patients return home to their primary care providers. Joslin clinicians partner with patients’ home physicians throughout the program to maintain communication and ensure that the patient’s individualized plan has a sustained impact on medical care and self-care.

At six months, a virtual clinical assessment is conducted and reported to the patient, the primary care physician and the employer. Based on Joslin’s experience in similar programs, we anticipate that at six months, most patients will have achieved a clinically-meaningful drop in their blood glucose levels, along with weight loss, an increase in exercise frequency and compliance to a suggested diet.

For employers the cost of this program will be more than offset over two years through savings in the direct costs of care for diabetes and its complications and improvements in cost of work loss due to diabetes complications and disability.

Contact: Cathy.carver@joslin.harvard.edu

Twitter: @JoslinDiabetes

Vitality: CCA Members Employee Wellness Showcase

Vitality LogoRunning from a 16-year Habit

Vitality GroupIn the six years since he’d been in the U.S. Marine Corps, Brandon Bahlawan went off track and away from the physical fitness routine he’d known as a Marine. While he made some sporadic attempts to get back into healthy routines, they were short lived, usually lasting only a matter of months. Particularly when he was working toward an MBA degree, he made poor health decisions, did not exercise, gained weight and smoked.

When Aggreko, the company for which Brandon works as a damage claims administrator, offered the Vitality program, he didn’t immediately engage. One day, he decided that he could no longer make excuses – he had smoked enough. He would use Vitality’s online smoking cessation tools in an attempt to break his smoking habit.

Brandon participated in the smoking cessation course, conversation and calculator that lead Vitality members toward smoke-free lives. Initially, these educational tools gave Brandon the courage and motivation to take the first steps necessary to conquer smoking once and for all. In addition, he took advantage of the many interactive tools and action steps located in the virtual Vitality Library. “I can honestly say that the program offered on the Vitality website worked for me, and I know that this time it is for real.” Brandon has permanently quit smoking – for the first and last time in 16 years.NEWM_2013_Supporter_Logo_f

Quitting smoking also inspired Brandon to work on other aspects of his physical health. As a Marine, he always enjoyed running, so he put his running shoes back on and took to the streets. In doing so, he regained his strength and endurance, and within three months time, lost 20 pounds.

Having often dreamed of running a marathon, he decided to begin training for one. He has established a routine and remains focused on achieving his goal of completing two half marathons. Brandon believes that he will have the motivation necessary to cross the finish line of a full marathon next year.

Brandon advises his colleagues: “Set challenging but achievable goals and work toward them. Try to avoid expecting ‘instant gratification’ when working toward your goals. Let the Vitality Points you earn through the program be your ‘instant gratification.’ Keep in mind that consistency and dedication are key to achieving your goals. When you accomplish a goal, reward yourself! Then set a new goal!”

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