Making wellness programs work better
Employers are expected to spend, on average, $3.6 million on corporate wellness programs this year, and with health costs continuing to rise, there is enormous pressure to get it right. Wellness programs are an exceedingly popular benefit among employers, but research shows the outcomes do not always match the enthusiasm. Often, they attract those who already are healthy and do little to improve overall health and wellness.
So, Blue Shield of California is taking the traditional wellness program and flipping the script by offering no-cost lifestyle interventions to support well-being as well as prevent, treat and even reverse disease as a member benefit rather than a workplace perk.
“Despite having more than a decade of experience working with wellness solutions, we knew our programs lacked diversity,” said Alexandra Frith, Lifestyle Medicine Consumer Marketing at Blue Shield of California. “If we were going to have a program that promotes wellness and good health, we needed to reach more than the already healthy, and we needed to create behavior change.”
WellvolutionTM, offers a personalized, customizable approach to creating lifestyle changes – such as losing weight, managing stress, quitting smoking or improving diets – that can lead to better health and, ultimately, the prevention and reversal of disease. The key to its success – more than 23,500 people have signed up in the first year, with more than half of those people who already are ill or on the verge of developing a disease – is a hyper-personal approach that matches individuals’ lifestyle needs with the types of programs they’re most likely to stick with.
Wellvolution offers access to more than 30,000 brick and mortar locations – most at no-cost – including gyms, weight loss clinics and community centers, as well as 70 online programs, all thoroughly vetted for the demonstrated impact they have on improving clinical outcomes as well as for consumer satisfaction. Participants can curate a personalized, proven strategy to address individual needs and concerns whether the need is for help quitting smoking, getting more exercise or managing stress.
Members sign up online and complete a short survey outlining their health needs and goals. From there, they are matched with a personalized strategy that includes weekly action plans, digital coaching, recommended mobile apps and in-person resources. Wellvolution, created in collaboration with Solera Health, is available at no cost to all Blue Shield of California members who are covered through their jobs, individual plans and, beginning Jan. 1, 2020, Medicare Advantage beneficiaries.
In the first few months few months, Blue Shield of California reported those enrolled in diabetes prevention programs saw an average weight loss of four percent, and by doing so reduced their risk of developing diabetes by 38 percent. A top reason to join Wellvolution was to lose weight, and nearly 13,000 participants reported a combined weight loss of more than 83,000 pounds in the first six months of starting the program.
“By matching the right program with the right person at the right time we hope to put the consumer in the driver’s seat to improve their health,” said Angie Kalousek, Director of Lifestyle Medicine at Blue Shield of California.
Wellvolution is designed to be continually evolving and as the platform matures, Blue Shield of California plans to incorporate more of a focus on addressing social determinants of health.
Results from the first year
Data from Wellvolution’s best-performing programs show sustained clinical outcomes for members in normalization of A1C numbers or at least a 5 percent weight loss. Among these programs:
- 60 percent signed up for weight management
- 31 percent of those achieved the clinical outcome of 5 percent weight loss.
- 30 percent enrolled for diabetes prevention
- 27 percent have reached positive clinical outcomes such as normalization of A1C numbers, healthier blood pressure and/or at least 5 percent weight loss.
- 10 percent signed up for diabetes treatment and reversal programs
- More than 40 percent of those achieved clinical outcomes such as normalization of A1C numbers, healthier blood pressure and/or at least 5 percent weight loss.
WellvolutionTM is a trademark owned by Blue Shield of California.