The Well-Being Journal

Five Game Changing Trends in Healthcare

Jennifer Rudloff

While we can’t predict the future, we think that it’s always important to keep a watchful eye out for trends in our industry. The field of healthcare is one that constantly evolves, as new implications constantly arise for doctors, patients, and well-being support providers like us.

Below is a list of several major emerging trends in healthcare that we think could be truly ground breaking. In our opinion, these trends – for which we’ve begun to see the seedlings – could be total game-changers, for Healthways and for the industry at large.

Here are five patterns in the healthcare industry that we think have the potential to stick around, at least for the time being:

  1. Health plan preparation for state insurance exchange implementation, which is projected to cause significant disruption of individual and small group fully insured businesses;
  2. Change from a volume-based to a value-based payment system, a change which comes with the associated shift of financial responsibility (and thus, risk) for cost and quality from health plans to providers;
  3. Increasing payer requests for comprehensive, integrated solutions, as more insurance clients aim to address longitudinal health risks and care needs for total populations;
  4. Adoption of population health management on a global scale, by both foreign government and foreign private sector health organizations; and
  5. Recognition by large employers of the expanded value of improved well-being, to reduce medical cost and improve individual and company productivity and performance.

This is just the beginning of changes we expect to see in the industry; momentum has already begun to pick up, and we’re excited to see how the space evolves. Particularly due to the upcoming 2012 presidential elections, our healthcare industry may be in its most malleable state ever – and this may hold direct or indirect impact upon our well-being as a country.

So, what do you think? How have you witnessed these industry trends in your own healthcare experiences? What are some other major changes in healthcare that you see on the horizon? Let us know by leaving comments below or on our Facebook page!

Topics: Healthcare Health Healthways Trends in Healthcare Health Plan & Health System

Women's Well-Being: Behind the Series

Jennifer Rudloff

Think you know the happiest woman in America? Well we do! Based on findings from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index®, the Healthways Science Team identified distinct characteristics that contribute to high well-being for America’s largest demographic, Baby Boomer Women. In a four part series – USA Today found ‘the happiest woman in America’ and use her life as an example as they explore what well-being means in work, health, and relationships for this generation of boomers.

I wanted to take some time to dive in to the data behind the series and discuss it's implications and associated action steps for each topic:

If you missed the series in USA Today - be sure to check out the stories:

Meet the happiest woman in America
Learn about work from ‘the happiest woman’
Learn about health from ‘the happiest woman’
Learn about relationships from ‘the happiest woman’

ABC World News also featured this series during 3 nights of their broadcast. Be sure to check out their coverage on well-being and health.

Topics: Healthy Living ABC World News Relationships Well-Being In the News Happiest Woman in America Business Performance Health Well-Being Index Baby Boomers USA Today work life balance Gail Sheehy

It's No Vator November - We're in - Are you?

Jennifer Rudloff

Exercise isn’t a destination, its part of the journey. Just can’t get to the gym or make time in your schedule for even 30 minutes of activity? Take the stairs! And take the initiative to start the movement – literally – by inviting a few friends along. And put that commitment in writing – in an email – in a text – in a tweet…..saying it “out loud” makes it real – “for the month of November I am going to bypass the elevator and take the stairs – No Vator November!” Share your commitment with 5 or more of your friends and ask them to share it with their friends. That’s what happened here at Healthways…one person shared his commitment with friends and asked them to pass it on. The result? Hundreds of colleagues joined the movement and have taken to the stairs!

What difference can a few flights of stairs make? According to Dr. Alan Hedge at Cornell University, only 34 extra calories a day can be the tipping point. In looking at the rise of obesity in America over the last decade, Dr. Hedge found it really was that simple. Just 34 extra calories a day can add 5 or 6 pounds a year! Simple lifestyle changes – adding more movement to your day – can burn those 34 calories and more. Just two or three flights of stairs daily will offset those 34 calories, depending on your weight and the intensity of your stair climb. Ramping up to six flights of day could help you trim off pounds!

Your work environment is a great place to start the movement. You don’t need any special equipment or dedicated space. Little nudges like taking the stairs instead of the elevator to a meeting might get even the most exercise adverse employee moving. After all, do you want to be the only one heading to the elevator when the rest of the team is taking the stairs?

Optimizing the physical environment is key to supporting well-being in the workplace and creating a Culture of Health. Sounds expensive, doesn’t it? It doesn’t have to be. Thinking outside the box – or in this case – outside the elevator – is all it takes to start the movement in your workplace.

Topics: Healthy Living Well-Being Exercise Workplace Well-Being Health Take the Stairs Stairs Dr. Alan Hedge

Reflections from The HERO

Jennifer Rudloff

A couple of weeks ago the Health Enhancement Research Organization, also known as HERO held its bi-annual Think Tank meeting and Forum (the HERO version of a conference) in Phoenix Arizona. After having some time to reflect on both of those meetings, I would like to share some of my reactions with you. Let me start with the Think Tank.

The Think Tank brings employee health management (EHM) experts together bi-annually to exchange ideas, expertise, and recommendations in an effort to solve problems and react to opportunities. Members of the think tank have a major role in the creation and dissemination of national EHM policy, strategy, leadership and infrastructure. During the most recent session we addressed three subjects: (1) the role of consumer directed initiatives and personal responsibility in health care, (2) the impact of an aging workforce and actions that must be taken both domestically and internationally, and (3) the role of financial incentives in the health management industry. As you might imagine, the use of incentives drew significant debate so let me expound upon that discussion.

Overall the field is fairly supportive of the use of financial incentives to drive participation in health management programs. However, we also agree that while financial incentives can drive participation, little evidence exists to show that financial incentives alone change behavior. The lightning rod seems to be the use of incentives to reward “health outcomes” as it is defined in The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Such incentives reward people for keeping biometrics such as cholesterol, blood pressure, and body fat within reasonable limits. The opinions on this issue varied widely at the HERO Think Tank.

From my experience I know that all employers are different. As the result, I believe America’s employers need the latitude to put in place the incentive programs that work best for them, based on their cultures and their business environments. We do not need further regulation regarding incentives. Instead, the pros and cons of various incentive programs should be evaluated so that employers can make discriminating choices that support the needs of their people and culture. Others may disagree with my perspective. For instance, American Heart Association has distributed position statements taking the view that outcomes-based incentives tied to health plan or self-insured company premium costs are unfair and discriminatory, instead advocating for ‘‘participation-based’’ incentives. Their fear appears to be that such incentives could lead to the mistreatment (including greater cost burden) of people with existing disease. While an understanding view points, current law already provides many safeguards and people who take good care of themselves already pay a disproportionate amount of the health care cost burden.

Regardless of our individual views, the one thing that the think tank fully agrees on is that as an industry, we must speak with a united voice. Articles by Michael O’Donnell, and by Paul Terry and David Anderson have done a nice job of advocating for the “one voice” approach.

The HERO Forum was also an enlightening experience. Highlights were the following:

  • Many companies are going back to the basics. Part of the format at the HERO Forum is to have “How To Do It” workshops where best-practice health management programs are highlighted. This year many of the professionals guiding these programs described how they were getting back to the basics of superior program planning, setting clear objectives, communicating their programs effectively, generating engagement through creative approaches, and measuring outcomes effectively.
  • People were networking and discussing some of the most timely topics in health management. Many good ideas were discussed in areas like the broader view of well-being, program integration, and the impact of work culture on health management success.
  • The research showing the efficacy of health management is continuing to advance and HERO is leading the way.
  • There are many breakthroughs in the area of participant engagement that involve superior communications, incentives, program positioning, and the ability to use new media and technology in the effort.
  • The use of small actions and social media in effectively advancing behavior change was addressed by Chris Cartter, General Manager of MeYou Health, in the closing keynote. Chris provided deep insights into this topic.

Both the HERO Think Tank and the Forum were well attended and the sessions and debate were provocative. If you are not a member of HERO, I urge you to consider getting involved. If you were there, what were your impressions and biggest takeaways?What are your thoughts on the incentive debate? Please share.

Topics: HERO Think Tank Workplace Well-Being Healthcare Engagement Business Performance Health Financial Incentives for Health Management Program Events Health Enhancement Research Organization