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Smart Benefits: 3 Ways to Make Wellness Standards Work

Monday, June 11, 2012

 

As results-based wellness programs take over, here's how to make sure you're not just focusing on the numbers.

As employers transition from participation-based wellness programs, which reward employees for completing an activity, to standards-based ones based on health screening scores, it’s critical that program involvement doesn’t end once the data’s collected. That’s because the ongoing activities offered to support employees after their screenings are just as important in keeping them engaged – and healthy.

Engagement is Key

With wellness, it’s all about keeping people engaged. In a standards-based program, employees may be asked to get a certain score on a screening to earn incentive points.  For example an employee whose blood pressure is 120/80 on test would earn the point. But an employee who doesn’t get the score forfeits the point.  What then? 

Depending on the design of the program, an employee who fails the screening may not be offered any chances to improve their health.  A better plan design is one that offers the employee follow-up activities like health coaching or self-directed workshops aimed at keeping employees educated, engaged, and motivated to change behavior over the long-term.

Coaching and Classes Counts

Coaching programs give employees access to certified, health professionals who offer advice on nutrition, physical activity and helpful next-step strategies to change behavior. The offerings are very flexible – available onsite, telephonically or via the web – and can be made more frequently available to those employees with higher health risks.

Employers may also opt to offer those employees who don’t achieve target scores on health screenings the chance to complete onsite classes or self-directed online workshops through a web portal.  Wellness vendors and insurance carriers often offer a choice of online programs for participants to choose from.  Just be sure to track participation and completion through the portal.

While employees may not earn the point for their scores, they may be offered the chance to become better educated about the health issue at hand and earn a point for their investment of time and attention on the issue -- despite the health screening result.

Reap the Benefits of Resources

Sometimes, providing resources to employees can make all the difference. Rather than giving up after a failed screening and waiting for the next one for another opportunity, ongoing programs offer an opportunity to improve their health now – and likely their screening scores later.

Amy Gallagher has over 19 years of healthcare industry experience.  As Vice President at Cornerstone Group, she advises large employers on long-term cost-containment strategies, consumer-driven solutions and results-driven wellness programs. Amy speaks regularly on a variety of healthcare-related topics, is a member of local organizations like the Rhode Island Business Group on Health, HRM-RI, SHRM, WELCOA, and the Rhode Island Business Healthcare Advisory Council, and participates in the Lieutenant Governor’s Health Benefits Exchange work group of the Health Care Reform Commission.

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