Total Health Management Program Demonstrating Positive Results for Improving Wellness
Building relationships is key in almost everything in life. A person’s health care is no different.
It is important that individuals develop engaged relationships with their providers. Routine checkups are critical to ensure good health, and in case there Is an ailment, it’s best to catch it early.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana (BCBSMT) believes that it can play an important role in enhancing that relationship. One way BCBSMT is helping craft deeper relationships between members and providers is through our Blue Value SM Total Health Management (THM) program.
Many wellness programs can be a one-shot deal. An individual receives a health screening and the report then goes into a drawer. A year later, another health screening and another paper added to the collection.
The biggest thing that we focused on was getting people into their providers to get that yearly screening. We look at it as a preventative tool instead of something happening later on in life.
THM is more hands-on and its results are more favorable.
Yes, the program encourages preventive health screenings and participants receive an overview of their health. What sets THM apart is that it works with employer groups to encourage wellness year-round. THM uses clinical guidelines to offer specific goals that enlist members in taking accountability for their own health. Along with the THM preventive measures and goals, the THM team also works one-on-one with each employer group to develop a robust workplace wellness program. This includes weight management programs and ideas on how to hold facility-wide wellness events. THM provides materials on topics such as fitness, nutrition and stress management upon request.
Ashlyn Jones, a BCBSMT senior wellness analyst, said the goal of the program is to help members foster that important relationship with their primary care doctors.
“The THM program helps groups build a foundation of wellness for the companies that enroll in the program,” Jones said. “We want to engulf the employee with a holistic approach. It is not just about weight loss. It is not just about fitness. There are so many other things that play into workplace wellness.”
THM is designed for groups with 51 or more members. This helps ensure that the program makes an impact on the largest number of people possible. THM analyzes aggregate group health data to cater plans specific to the group. Then it monitors and tracks results.
Results that, by the way, are outstanding. Take Barrett Hospital in Dillon, for example.
The hospital and its employees have been part of the THM program since 2013 and have taken advantage of every resource offered. They have a wellness expert on site that Jones works with to help implement THM and other wellness programs, as well as earn buy-in from the hospital’s leadership.
“(Barrett Hospital) has blossomed and taken advantage of THM and the extra programs that we offer,” Jones said. “It has turned into a great relationship, where we work with each other to improve their health and wellness.”
Barrett Hospital’s first foray into wellness started with tracking sheets and not much else. Once they implemented THM, the program has thrived.
Molly Ruud and Erika Berens oversee the wellness and activities programs at Barrett Hospital, and they work with BCBSMT’s THM team throughout the year. Ruud is the human resources representative and Berens is the wellness facilitator at the hospital.
At the beginning of each year, the hospital offers free lab screenings to every employee. The providers can then use that information to complete the member’s THM form when the member goes for their preventive visit. Once the member submits the form, the THM program aggregates the results and provides feedback to Barrett Hospital. From there, Ruud and Berens plan activities throughout the year to help improve their group’s scores and their collective health.
The activities vary, and are designed in a way so that it is easy for employees to participate in because of the diverse work schedules. Someone working an overnight shift isn’t able to take part in a walk-at-lunch program. With that in mind, Berens encourages people to log their own approved activities and submit them. These can include walking, biking, horseback riding, or mowing the lawn. Basically, any activity that gets people out and moving counts.
A popular activity Barrett Hospital organized last year was the Maintain-No Gain challenge. Residents love mentioning that there are more cattle than people in Beaverhead County, so part of the challenge included weighing each group with a cattle scale. It was a huge success on several fronts. One of the key reasons was that the weight was tracked as a group, not by individuals stepping on a scale one by one.
The winning team ended up not only losing the most weight and the highest percentage of weight, but they made a donation to the Dillon-area Love Inc.
“We try to do a lot with groups,” Berens said. “If individuals want to get more individualized programs, they can talk to us and get more information. The goal, now that the participation level is where it is at, is to improve the numbers. We want group activities and challenges to lower those scores.”
Barrett Hospital’s participation rate is robust and consistently growing. In 2016, Barrett Hospital expanded their THM program to include spouses. Currently more than 50 percent of those eligible to take part elected to participate. According to a 2015 RAND corporation study that focused on incentives for workplace wellness programs, Barrett Hospital’s participate rate is more than 10 percent higher than average.
While the wide array of health-related activities play a role in that, so does the incentive that Barrett Hospital provides to those who participate.
Employees who take part in the THM and wellness program are eligible to receive up to $400 per year. That amount is taken off of an employee’s monthly insurance premium, allowing each employee to realize a tangible savings. Also, if the employees have a health screening score of 85 or higher, or if they have improved upon their score from the year before, they get an extra $100. Spouses who participate receive $100 towards their premium and an extra $100 for a THM health screening score of 85 or higher.
Barrett Hospital’s investment, combined with the resources THM provides, has created a thriving wellness program. Not only is it helping to lower blood pressures and body mass indexes, but it is also catching life-threatening diseases early.
“The biggest thing that we focused on was getting people into their providers to get that yearly screening,” Ruud said. “We look at it as a preventative tool instead of something happening later on in life.”
Jones and her team see groups that have members with certain high-risk factors. After two or three years in the THM program, group participation is increasing and high-risk categories have decreased. They are able to analyze data and see the positive impact of THM.
“We hear a lot of personal stories about members going in for their preventive screening visit who haven’t done so in years, and they find something that could have been much worse,” Jones said. “That is exciting. It motivates us to keep going.”