We’ve been asked to do some research on how social technologies are, and will, impact the new U.S. health care reform in a couple of different areas. One of the areas we are focusing on is Employee Wellness.
Our experience in working with many Human Resource (HR) departments over the years, is that most have a very “traditional”, non-innovative stance. Most use policies and procedures which come from concepts developed shortly after World War II.
I wonder how many would be brave enough to attempt an approach we found south of the border.
The Shands Jacksonville Medical Center had a problem. Employees, both health care and support staff, were out of shape. The irony was not lost by this organization, since after all, they were there to help others become healthy. But the employee population was “reflective of the general U.S. population in terms of obesity and chronic illness.” The business problem? Direct impact on the bottom line: higher healthcare insurance premiums, higher absenteeism, lower productivity.
In January 2007, they introduced a program to encourage employees to live a healthier life and improve their own wellness. The incentive? Air miles, specifically, Virgin HealthMiles.
The program introduced pedometers to track movement, kiosks to allow recording of weight, blood pressure, and body fat, and captured all this data in a personalized, secure web site called “LifeZone”. This allowed employees to track personal progress and view wellness information. The data was also available for the employer to understand the workforce progression towards wellness.
Real-world activities were obviously key to providing information and encouragement among the workforce. The added value to the program was an online community were the shifts of workers providing 24/7 coverage could interact with other employees non-real time. And with a workforce that is largely moving around the building during work hours and has limited access to computers during their shift (many had no computers at home), co-workers who had access enlisted to provide support to upload data and maintain online community membership.
The business outcome? In approximately 18 months, a healthier workforce resulted in a $6 savings for every dollar invested in the program. Not too shabby.
Read the full case study here: Putting the “Health” Back In Healthcare. (PDF)