CONWAY REGIONAL WORKFORCE BENEFITS FROM IMPROVED HEALTH AND REDUCED INSURANCE CLAIMS
In its third year Conway Regional Health System’s Employee Health and Wellness Plan has begun to show lasting improvements in the overall health of the workforce. Improvements in employee health were a factor in Conway Regional being selected as the first organization in Faulkner County to achieve the Arkansas Governor’s Quality Award in 2014.
Conway Regional’s leaders decided to take a proactive approach in 2012 to address health issues among employees in response to escalating medical insurance claims and increases in employee premiums.
The plan emphasizes biometric screenings that enable employees to monitor improvement in health conditions such as obesity and elevated blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose levels.
The plan also tracks the reduction of tobacco use on a yearly basis.
Employees participating in the health system-funded CoreSource insurance program were initially screened in June of 2012 with follow-up screenings in 2013 and in 2014.
Next, Conway Regional relied on health coaches provided by TrestleTree, Conway Regional’s wellness vendor, to provide monthly advice and encourage employees who were working to improve their health.
All employees in the health plan are strongly encouraged to participate in the screenings and regular coaching sessions, if needed.
Employees whose biometric results do not meet one or more of the established standards are encouraged to participate in health coaching with TrestleTree. The standards are:
•Blood pressure < 140/90
•Total cholesterol < 240 or LDL cholesterol <160
•Fasting blood glucose < 126
•BMI < 30
•No tobacco use
Effective January of 2014, Conway Regional no longer hires tobacco users and is using free smoking cessation classes to help current tobacco users kick the habit.
In the area of tobacco use, significant progress was made by the end of the 2013-2014 period. Forty-nine percent of the 92 employees who reported tobacco use indicated they intended to quit. Seventeen employees actually reported quitting tobacco after 12 months. Eighteen percent reported quitting tobacco use in 2014, compared to 2.5 percent in 2013.
The overall results show that focusing on health and making small changes in behavior related to eating and exercise can have a significant impact in improving overall health.
The average blood pressure of those engaged in health coaching has continued to decline. Similar results can be seen in total cholesterol and blood glucose levels.
A key metric that can have a major impact in improving overall employee health is weight reduction. The results show progress in this area as well. Employees in health coaching lost an average of 12.1 pounds during the two-year period.
Incentives and Rewards
For Conway Regional, not only has the overall health of the workforce improved, but the organization has managed to dramatically slow the pace of increasing health insurance claims costs from previous years.
For the participating employees, in addition to improved health, other benefits of this program have included stable yearly insurance premiums.
In each of the last two years, these employees were rewarded with premium holidays where they received a break from paying their insurance premiums for a pay period, reducing their insurance costs by 4 percent.
Health plan participants are also experiencing improved quality of life, beginning with quitting tobacco.
All Conway Regional employees are eligible to receive a waiver for the joining fee for the Weight Management program provided by the Conway Regional Health & Fitness Center. Employees are responsible for the participation fee of $5 per week. Employees also receive a 50 percent discount on the overall cost of joining the Health & Fitness Center and the joining fee is waived.
The organization, as a whole, is making a more conscious effort to offer healthier meals and snacks at hospital functions.
Conway Regional’s leaders stress the importance of establishing a good relationship with a family physician and getting an annual physical.
The health insurance plan pays 100 percent of the cost of wellness related expenses with no co-pays or deductibles.
Additional wellness advice focuses on:
•Better decision-making regarding nutrition
•Commitment to regular exercise
•Setting and attaining reasonable health goals
•Family participation in wellness activities
Use of additional Conway Regional services such as diabetes management, annual flu shots, and the Conway Regional Health & Fitness Center.
For more information about how to improve the health of your organization, contact Richard Tyler, Conway Regional’s Corporate Director of Human Resources, at 501-513-5308.