The rising cost of healthcare continues to be a major concern—for the nation, for individuals, and for businesses that provide employee health programs. Employers large and small know that any discussion of sustainability must include a focus on reducing skyrocketing medical expenses.
As a community leader in wellness, committed to helping families take their health to a higher level, Methodist has long placed emphasis on preventing illness and strengthening healthy lifestyles. Whether through free and low-cost screening opportunities, school physicals, the area's only in-school health program or activities for seniors, Methodist is committed to the overall health of the community.
That concern extends to its own workforce. One of the area's largest employers, the hospital was determined to help employees and their families prepare to win at wellness. “Methodist felt that as a healthcare provider for our community, we needed to help our own employees make the type of lifestyle adjustments that would result in lower risk factors and improved health,” said Michelle Williams, manager of employee health and wellness. “Working with the employee’s personal physician, we try to provide incentives to lower risk factors.”
In 2007, Methodist launched an aggressive five-year employee wellness journey. Today, the program is demonstrating significant, measurable results. The journey began with a medical advisory committee, which identified four key health risk indicators and set targets for each. Those targets are:
- Blood pressure below 130/85
- Blood glucose (sugar) 100 or less
- Total cholesterol below 200
- Body Mass Index under 30.
"Employees covered by the employee health insurance benefit must participate in the wellness program to enjoy a generous premium discount," explains Williams. They and their covered spouses must complete a comprehensive online health risk assessment, in addition to having their height, weight, blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol checked before the start of each year. Employees are classified based on their number of risk factors, from zero to four. They are then assigned to a healthcare coach for follow-up. Personal health coaching is provided through telephone and/or face-to-face coaching sessions. The higher the employee’s risks, the more face-to-face contact occurs.
The results are impressive. So far this year, there has been a 43% reduction in employees with three or four risk factors, a 56% reduction in those with two risk factors, an 85% increase in employees with one risk factor, and a 133% increase in employees with no risk factors.
Employees receive additional encouragement and support through Methodist's "It Pays To Be Healthy" program. "Employees earn points for participation in a wide range of wellness activities," says Williams. "Points can be earned for attending workout sessions, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, attending healthy eating seminars, donating blood, even getting a massage! Employees can redeem their points for up to $250 reimbursement per year.
A member of the Wellness Council of America, Methodist recently received the 2012 Gold Well Workplace Award, which recognizes quality and excellence in worksite health promotions. The Wellness Council defines a “Well Workplace” as an organization fully embracing its responsibility for maximizing the health and well-being of its employees. Earlier this year, Methodist was also recognized as a platinum-level Fit-Friendly Company by the American Heart Association for helping its employees eat better and move more. “We are honored to be recognized for our commitment to employee wellness and providing the best workplace environment possible,” added Williams. “That commitment will benefit our employees’ health and produce even more positive results for our organization overall.” iBi