The Well-Being Journal

The Global Obesity Epidemic Requires a 360° Solution: Dr. Jim Pope at the Milken Institute Global Conference

Jennifer Rudloff

Jim Pope_Milken Institute_Global ConferenceYesterday, Healthways Vice President and Chief Science Officer, Dr. James Pope, participated in a panel discussion, “Weight of the World: Strategies to Fight the Global Obesity Epidemic,” at the Milken Institute Global Conference.

Each year, the Milken Conference convenes hundreds of business leaders, Nobel Prize winners, scientists, educators, philanthropists, and other global decision-makers to discuss their provocative opinions and fresh insights. The Conference delves into urgent challenges facing the world, from the economy, to health care, to energy, to education. Attendees not only debate issues, but also help move policy towards solutions.

Moderated by Reuters Senior Health and Science Correspondent Sharon Begley, the panel – including Kent Bradley, Senior Vice President, Chief Medical Officer, Safeway Inc.; Francine Kaufman, Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of Global Medical, Clinical and Health Affairs, Medtronic Diabetes; and David Kirchhoff, President and CEO, Weight Watchers International Inc. – aimed to find out.

During the panel, Dr. Pope and the others discussed the severity and rapid growth of the global obesity epidemic and its implications on public health, productivity, human capital formation and economic development. In addition, they talked about the causes and solutions and how businesses and other leaders can support interventions.

We know that – although obesity rates in European countries such as Germany and the U.K are lower than the U.S. obesity rate – obesity is a global problem. During the panel, Dr. Pope noted that, while obesity rates in the U.S. may appear to have plateaued, we still maintain an unfortunate trend of shockingly high obesity rates, and the rest of the world is catching up.

So, why is this happening?

Experts on the panel attribute this trend to several factors: we eat out more often and on larger plates, we don’t engage in as much physical activity at our jobs as we used to, and we now produce food much more efficiently, resulting in cheaper calories.

Ultimately, however, Dr. Pope and the panelists presented a light at the end of this tunnel of grim obesity patterns. Personal behaviors really provide the greatest opportunity to improve health and reduce premature death. We can’t depend on our doctors alone. We need to rely on ourselves and on our employers if we want to turn this trend around.

But how can we sustain these programs and their results? In our opinion, a multi-faceted, collaborative approach works best.

As indicated by the Johns Hopkins University POWER Trial, in order to lose weight and combat obesity, more is necessary than physician interaction. We found great results in combining physician advice with telephonic weight-loss guidance from Healthways health coaches. In this case, the doctor was not conveyed as the expert on weight loss – rather, our motivational coaches provided expertise for the patient’s approach to food, exercise, financial management, and life in general. We used this collaborative model to launch our new weight-loss offering, Innergy.

At Healthways, we’re always looking at how to improve the health of our nation, and prevent the progress of unfortunate trends like obesity. Through our Blue Zones initiative, we examine how people live to be older and healthier. Iowa is spearheading the charge and is focused on becoming the healthiest state in the nation through the program. Its communities have come together to support each other in this effort. They know that the U.S. simply cannot afford to keep going in the direction it has been. And they are leading by example.

This panel conveyed that the Milken Institute Global Conference not only provides a forum for scholarly discussion on many subjects; it also provides a forum for hope for the future. To learn more about Healthways efforts to fight U.S. obesity with our collaborative – and effective – approach, click here.

What lessons do you think policy makers should keep in mind as we strive to fight the global obesity epidemic? Share your thoughts here, or tweet us to let us know what you think!

To view the full panel discussion, visit the link below:
Weight of the World: Strategies to Fight the Global Obesity Epidemic

Topics: weight of the world Obesity Weight Loss Innergy Healthcare Prevention Milken Institute Global Conference Healthways Johns Hopkins Events Jim Pope James Pope

Attract Today’s Seniors and Impact Star Ratings

Jennifer Rudloff

Senior Couple on ScooterIn America, more and more people are living into their 80’s, 90’s and beyond. Each day over the next 18 years, 8,000 baby boomers join a population of seniors age 65+ that’s already larger than it’s ever been. And out of this growth, a new kind of senior is born. Gone are the images of rocking chairs and knitting needles. Today’s senior is tech savvy, uses a computer regularly, and seeks information from online sources. This shift in population demographics represents a huge opportunity for those serving this population.

With star ratings raising the profile of quality measure, Medicare Advantage plans can gain a competitive advantage with strategies that recognize the importance and value of proactive health support. Healthways can help. Our proven Senior Well-Being Improvement Solution takes a multifaceted approach to keeping the healthy healthy and managing chronic conditions. Designed to immediately impact star ratings, our senior solution includes the following:

  • Healthways CMS-approved Senior Well-Being Assessment (WBA) explores challenges specific to seniors, and delivers an insightful view of member health history, status, social and emotional health, and health related behaviors.
  • Personalized Well-Being Plans are generated using data from the Senior WBA; plans recommend behaviors for improvement and relevant action steps for individual health risks.
  • Guided online improvement is delivered via Well-Being Connect, an easy to use online tool designed to impact behaviors that directly influence star ratings like self-management, appointment adherence, healthy eating, and weight management.
  • Innergy™ and QuitNet® address obesity and tobacco use, two of the biggest risks for health care and costs, and provide targeted support to at-risk individuals as identified by the Senior WBA.
  • Senior focused telephonic health coaching provides support to drive risk reduction, behavior change, long-term health care savings, and star ratings gains for high-risk seniors.

And when it comes to engagement, we’ll do the legwork for you. Our solution includes built in engagement support from our award-winning marketing engagement team. Our fully developed, easily customized communications campaign drives initial and ongoing participation.

To learn more more about how we can help you drive star ratings and gain competitive advantage, visit our solutions page and choose Medicare/Senior Specific Support, or contact us today.

Topics: CMS Healthcare Seniors Star Ratings Prevention Healthways Medicare Advantage

Avoidable Cost Model Yields Big Savings

Jennifer Rudloff

When it comes to healthcare spending in the United States, there are some shocking facts:

  • By 2020 annual healthcare spending is estimated to reach $4.64 trillion dollars. (That’s a big chunk of change.)
  • In 2009, healthcare spending accounted for 17.6% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). And by 2019, it’s projected to reach 19.3% of GDP.
  • America’s healthcare spending is projected to grow at an annual average rate of 5.8% from 2010 to 2020. (That’s a growth rate 1.1% faster than the expected growth in GDP.)

But it doesn’t have to be that way. With the help of timely interventions, a significant portion of this burden could be avoided. By taking a holistic approach to health and well-being, monitoring the entire population (both diseased and non-diseased members) we can deliver impactful, personalized interventions to members in the greatest need. That’s the philosophy behind Total Population Health, but it hasn’t always worked out that way in practice.

Historically, organizations have relied on risk assessments, age/sex demographics, and pharmacy based models designed and used in disease management to identify members in the greatest need of these programs. But these models are flawed – they often rely on cost triggers to target individuals who exceed a certain cost threshold. But we know that low cost doesn’t necessarily mean low risk – they may be a “ticking time bomb” as a result of not maintaining their health.

There had to be a better way. Our Healthways Center for Health Research went to work developing a predictive model that would bridge the gap between the conception of the total population health approach and reality.

The result? The Avoidable Cost Model. Designed to identify the high-risk segments of the population who are likely to have near term, costly (but avoidable) in patient events, the avoidable cost model allows for proactive care management tailor fit to meet the needs of your population using member claim data.

And unlike standard, disease-specific models that are frequently used to predict future health risks, our model allows for early interventions for members with whom there is the greatest opportunity to have an impact and helps to optimize the use of intervention resources. It also produces greater healthcare savings; in fact, when compared with a model developed to predict high-cost members in a diseased population, the avoidable cost model captured an additional $15 million dollars in total savings.

To find out more about our research on the avoidable cost model and see how it compares to other models in the market, check out the paper below.

Predictive Modeling: The Application of a Consumer-Specific Avoidable Cost Model in a Commercial Population

Topics: Healthcare Save on Health Business Performance Prevention

Why We Built Innergy

Jennifer Rudloff

Obesity is America’s #1 health risk today.

Over the past 25 years, the prevalence of obesity grew from less than 15% of the population to 1 in 3, as this chart demonstrates.

That kind of growth is an epidemic in the making. It threatens to become the new normal, but the new normal carries with it $150 billion in annual costs.

Further, addressing obesity can positively impact other serious health risks increased by excess weight, such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and musculo-skeletal disorders.

There is hope! Click here to read more about what we are doing to put a dent in the problem.

Topics: Obesity Weight Loss Innergy Prevention