Healthcare Partners employees are on a wellness roll. Now in their fourth year with the Vitality program, management notes major growth in participation. Members are consistently increasing their activity levels every month as is witnessed by huge growth in the number who have reached Silver Status and above. Many of the groups risk factors have improved, including a 1.2 percent decrease in BMI. Many employees have quit smoking and cholesterol numbers are down considerably. Those are some of the highlights, but by no means the whole story.
Vitality spoke with Catherine Crow, Vice President, Employee and Clinician Services, about their Vitality program and what it took to reach those milestones.
VOP: Tell us a bit about Healthcare Partners.
Catherine: HealthCare Partners is a medical group with approximately 8,000 employees serving 900,000 patients in California, Nevada, Florida, New Mexico and Arizona. In November 2012, HealthCare Partners merged with DaVita, a leading provider of kidney care in the United States, and now operates as a subsidiary of DaVita HealthCare PartnersSM.
VOP: What made Healthcare Partners pursue a wellness program?
Catherine: No surprise. Like many other companies in the past several years, we watched our healthcare premiums increase significantly and we decided that we needed to offer a self-insured employee medical plan. That meant we would be assuming 100 percent of the risk, and so keeping employees healthy became more important than ever. In fact, from a business perspective, it was essential. I think one major difference for us was that, being a provider organization, we understood the value of well care and prevention perhaps better than a lot of companies. So we were lucky in that our CEO, Robert Margolis, MD, actually mandated that we implement a wellness program. Our director of disease management Janelle Howe and I were charged with making it happen. We looked at a several wellness providers. Vitalitys program stood out.
VOP: How so?
Catherine: Vitality was a great fit with our culture, and we thought it made financial sense, too. We believed in the incentive aspect, and the fact that their data-driven approach to changing behavior is based on an actuarial science. Best of all, they are getting results tangible, meaningful health improvements that are driving medical costs down.
VOP: How did your roll out go?
Catherine: Slow at first, but we had incredible support from the Vitality team during implementation. They came out, helped train everyone and worked with me to get people excited. Still, our early participation rates were not what I had hoped.
VOP: What made the difference?
Catherine: We ramped up communication a lot. Vitality helped with ideas and we had some of our own. We instituted Vitality Realities and broadcast our member success stories throughout the company. We also created an Extraordinary Achievement category highlighting, for example, one member who swam 22 miles from Catalina Island, others who climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro and hiked in Peru that kind of over the top physical achievement. We did our own awards for those accomplishments, and people loved it. We circulated pictures and stories of how people used their rewards: a weekend at the Ritz, donating books for kids, creating events to benefit the community. Enthusiasm began to build. We were on our way.
When we first started we had to beg for Vitality Champs, now everyone wants to do it I think we have more than 200 Champs to date!
VOP: Was your leadership engaged?
Catherine: It took a while for the physicians to really jump in. Then our Executive Medical Director took his VHR (Vitality Health Review) and his Vitality Age came back several years above his actual age. He got on the program and began journaling his Vitality experience and we sent it around to all the physicians. That got their attention.
VOP: Looking ahead, whats your greatest challenge?
Catherine: Ive got to say its sustaining and elevating performance. Vitality helps us with that all the time. Were walking, running, even hula hooping and when we plan Vitality events now, hundreds show up. But we know you cant get to Platinum on fitness alone. Were encouraging everyone to earn Vitality Points though the educational and nutritional enhancements, too. Now they are taking classes, enjoying the HealthyFoods® program and playing Vitality SquaresTM. Bottom line, people are really turning their health around. We are approaching 50 percent Vitality engagement, and our medical loss ratio is steadily declining.