Central Virginia Health Network: Growing a Wellness Program

Top places to workUntitled picture                                                                                          By: Gerard P.Filicko, Senior Vice President, Clinical Serivces                                            CVHN, Glenn Allen, VA

Central Virginia Health Network (CVHN) is an independent Care Management Organization established by leading healthcare providers in Virginia.  We specialize in telephonic health coaching, chronic care management solutions, and health information technology.   CVHN has 110 employees across various companies in multiple office locations in the Richmond, VA area, with staff in North Carolina and Florida.

When CVHN looked to initiate their own employee wellness platform, of course we looked to Bon Secours Richmond and their Workforce Wellness Initiative.  Of upmost importance – we asked ourselves, how do we take our program and move it to the next level?”

Thought we take our employees wellness seriously, one of our key strategies for success was to assure it was fun!  The other key objectives included:

– improving health status and reducing risk factors

– increasing participation in wellness activities

– helping employees seek preventative care and make informed decisions;

–  finding an administrative platform that would be effective and easy to manage.

In answering the question on how to raise the bar and “grow a wellness program”, CVHN developed a three year plan, making it a manageable journey that could execute over time.  It was imperative the initiative motivate their staff with goals that encouraged engagement, raised awareness and offered activities to both modify their lifestyle and inspire behavior changes in order to reduce key risk factors. The risk factors targeted were prehypertension, overweight/obesity and addressing a sedentary lifestyle.

Advantages of a Population Health Website

To assure success, CVHN’s human resources team enlisted senior leadership sponsorship and partnered with Bon Secours using their OneCommunity population health website (powered by Aegis Health Group).  OneCommunity is linked to a set of resources and tools that encompass a health risk assessment coupled with biometric screenings.  Once each employee is securely registered, every time they logon, they have access to their Personal Health Profile. Additionally, they are shown a dashboard overview of their program which automatically updates their status as they participate in company sponsored efforts.  It contains useful tools for tracking health goals and interests such as an exercise log, nutrition diary and more.

Each individual’s Personal Health Report is customized with content and details on how they can achieve better health through lifestyle changes along with health articles specific to their health profile.  It also tracks and manages incentives for both the employee and CVHN’s HR department.  They have the flexibility to structure rewards or incentives based on their objectives, automating and simplifying many administrative functions.

Incentives Play a Key Role

One noteworthy benefit CVHN offered was a $500 contribution into a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) for all employees, linked to various wellness programs. Employees receive $100 from their FSA if they complete a health risk assessment and biometric screening. The balance may be earned through involvement in on-site health education, completing an annual physical, participation in company sponsored fitness events, as well as tracking personal activity through FitBit integration. Plus, they may earn points toward prizes such as personal training sessions and gym bags.  All of this activity is tracked on OneCommunity.com.

The response has been enthusiastically received with plans to incorporate additional incentives in future programs. It’s truly a long term plan to embed healthier behavior every year of the program.

Online Engagement Makes a Difference

By moving to the online platform, CVHN has seen more participation than in the past three years when we used a more traditional paper-centric program, also offered by Bon Secours.  The past year, we were at 98 percent participation.

“Our success is a combination of factors.  One is the $100 incentive; this really caught our employee’s attention.  Plus the simplicity of the OneCommunity platform.  It is so easy to logon, complete the information, and then go back and track personal progress and participation.  Our HR team has found it makes the incentives and activity tracking very manageable.  It has made a big difference for us.”  Another innovative move on CVHN’s part to drive involvement was to include the OneCommunity link into our payroll system. Employees can click right over to view their health status when they check their salary and benefits.

A Healthier Workforce Emerges

Besides just increasing participation in CVHN’s wellness program, the company saw improvements from 2013 to 2014 across measureable health related areas – and are now tracking 2015:

2013 2014 Improvement National
Tobacco Use (all forms) 15.10% 8.40% 11.50%
Never/Sometimes 65.80% 55.90% 65.10%
Frequently 34.10% 44.10% 34.90%
Health Conditions
Frequent Stress 17.10% 21.50% 18.30%
No PCP 20.50% 15% 21.40%
Normal Glucose 95.00% 96.80% 82.00%
Screening History
BP (Not Checked) 9.80% 1.00% 6.00%
Cholesterol (Not Checked) 17.10% 2.90% 16.30%
Glucose (Not Checked) 19.50% 1.00% 18.00%
Physical Exam (Never Checked) 7.30% 4.60% 9.10%

Along with the biometric success, another benefit is their health insurance premiums remained constant – with NO increases.

So what is the main appeal of a workforce wellness and incentive website? It is all about convenience and driving user engagement:  When you’re able to see your performance on a day to day basis, and you’re able to earn those thumbs up and check marks, you have a real sense of accomplishment. You can graphically see your improvement and your health scores improve.  It’s very motivating.

On the administrative side:  It brings a high level of simplicity and organization, making it so much easier for HR to handle all the administrative elements, points and incentives.  Yes, we’re looking forward to growing our program both with our employees and the company reaping the rewards.

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Employer/Provider Partnerships – Part II – The New Rules of Engagement

New Rules Of Engagement

Most healthcare organizations understand the basics of what’s required for population health management, but lack a clear strategy for making it successful in their marketplace with consumers. Here are some guidelines that can make a big impact:

Rule 1 – Seek first to understand, then to be understood. This principle, first attributed to St. Francis of Assisi and in recent times to author Steven Covey, helps lay a solid foundation for community partnerships. For example, the healthcare needs of a company predominantly composed of female office workers will look very different from those of a construction company. Engaging effectively with area employers requires empathy and research, not just a canned response.

Rule 2 – Speak the employer’s language. You’ll be much more successful if you don’t confuse local employers with healthcare and technical jargon like “covered lives” and “interoperability.” Employers would much rather discuss return on investment than some hospital-centric topic like HEDIS quality scores.

Rule 3 – Meet them where they are. Health systems with the most successful community and employer-directed initiatives employ an employer relations specialists who meets on-site with local employers. They take a consultative approach, tailoring employer-specific programs to improve health outcomes and lower costs. Helping employers reach those goals provides a boost to strategic hospital programs, services and specialties.

Rule 4 – Provide tools to manage the employer’s investment in better health. Many health systems claim to have a population health platform, yet it is often so complex it does not engage the consumer or the program manager. A truly effective platform needs to be simple to use, create a connection with its users and automate key functions like tracking employee participation and determining which incentives work best. Don’t get snowed by all the “Big Data” stories in the media. In population health, data analytics needs to be practical and actionable.

The platform also needs to include a population health website that lets employees track their own progress, view content personalized to their health risks and communicate easily with care coordination teams if this component is built into the program.

Rule 5 – Develop programs to fit each employer’s budget and readiness level. There are basically three levels of employer engagement:

  • Early adopters who are willing to gather employee data with a Health Risk Assessment tool and to participate in health seminars or on-site health sessions.
  • Consciously committed employers that see the advantages that can be gained from understanding and addressing their workforce health risks. These companies often have created budgets for more robust biometric screenings.
  • Fully engaged employers who have well-defined incentive programs, often are looking for ways to improve on what they have, and may even have on-site nurse practitioners.

Your health system needs to develop programs tailored to each of these employer categories.

Here’s an example of a provider/employer partnership that has produced outstanding results:

The R.E. Darling Company in Tucson, Arizona is a manufacturer with only about 100 employees. Several years ago, its healthcare costs had risen to nearly $1 million annually. The company worked with its hospital partner to create special $1,000 health savings accounts for employees who participated in a population health initiative. The hospital worked with an outside firm to develop a platform for managing biometric screenings, health fairs and awareness campaigns, health coaching, fitness classes and much more.

In the first year of the program, employees posted a 23% improvement in cholesterol scores and an 18% increase in establishing relationships with a primary care physician. Meanwhile, the company achieved a 74% reduction in healthcare spending.

When health systems and employers work closely together – using actionable data to achieve practical results – employees and community groups steadily get healthier, the cost of care decreases and productivity rises. In short, this new partnership is helping to realize the full potential of health reform – and hospitals are building meaningful, local relationships comprised largely of a commercial payer mix.

About the Author:

Phil Suiter is President and CEO of Aegis Health Group in Brentwood, Tennessee. He has nearly three decades of healthcare experience, and has previously served in executive roles at Artemis Health Group, Vanderbilt University, OnLife, and Notify MD.

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Employers & Providers: Partners in a Successful Population Health Management Initiative

By Phil Suiter

Part I – Steps Involved in Creating a Successful Partnership

For population health management to be truly effective, it must leverage the power of relationships. Healthcare providers must develop stronger ties to all individuals in the community, not just those who are currently patients. This is why progressive health systems are now proactively partnering with local employers and community groups. Their main objectives are:

  1. To obtain an accurate picture of community health trends (e.g., high incidence of obesity, diabetes, smoking, etc.)
  2. To identify community members who are most at risk of developing chronic diseases
  3. To provide upstream education, intervention and appropriate hospital services to help prevent individuals from developing those chronic diseases

The key steps involved in creating a successful partnership:

A provider targets area employers, offering the expertise to create healthier, more productive organizations, reduce insurance premiums and lower absenteeism. The provider works directly with each employer to conduct health risk surveys and biometric screenings of the workforce, often including spouses and family members. This data is analyzed in a variety of ways and becomes the basis for a provider-sponsored health management program to address the organization’s health challenges at both group and individual levels. Participants receive a personalized health score, health risk profile, and content tailored to address their specific health issues or conditions that can lead to chronic illness.

This becomes the foundation for a population health website that employees can easily access. To maintain confidentiality, only the employee and the provider have access to Protected Health Information. The employer, however, receives an aggregate view of employees’ health along with a financial analysis tool that details the cost associated with current health risks and identifies potential savings that may be realized from various health initiatives. Here is where the partnership gains traction as the health system and employer team to create targeted, cost-effective programming for risk reduction. Employers can also track, manage and evaluate incentive offerings, key to many workforce activities.

Employees now are just a web click away from their personalized health dashboard.  They can see their Health Score, a numerical snapshot of their health profile – and be motivated to improve their “health number”. They can also access engaging tools like a health calculator, a nutrition diary, a water consumption log, and more, plus health tracker status including synced devices such as Fitbit ®. Content is also tailored based on their individual risk factors and is updated on each log-in.

A population health website offers numerous benefits for all who take advantage:

> the hospital – as they seek to build a healthier community and support strategic service lines

> the employers – as they gain a healthier, more productive workforce while lowering insurance premiums

> the employees – with customized health content and an engaging website that motivates healthier behavior and a happier, healthier lifestyle

Part II will feature The New Rules of Engagement in Employer/Provider Partnerships.

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Six Trending Developments Influencing Optimism in Health Care

Phil Suiter, President and CEO – Aegis Health Group

Six Trending Developments Influencing Optimism in Health Care

There appears to be a new wave of optimism among healthcare leaders as the industry has moved beyond the initial uncertainty and disruption triggered by the ACA and providers see the value and realization of their strategic plans taking effect.  Aegis Health Group has identified six key developments contributing to this more positive point of view for the industry’s future:

  1. The Innovation Movement – There is an industry trend taking place that is embracing innovative strategies to address key hospital challenges. Healthcare leaders are collaborating with researchers, consultants, community partners and cross-functional teams, finding fresh approaches that can make a major difference toward achieving competitive differentiation. Not merely innovation for innovation’s sake, an important element of these activities is projected outcomes measurement — focusing on initiatives that are results-driven and offer promise of a positive ROI.
  2. Population Health 2.0 – One size does not fit all. Almost all healthcare providers recognize that population health is a key element to their success; however, each has their own strategy for actualization. “In 2015 we expect more hospitals to make investments in consumer-directed technologies that put their population health programs at the fingertips of local consumers,” says Phil Suiter, Aegis Health Group’s president and CEO. Tools like online population health websites that allow health systems to collect, track and act on the health risks of area consumers before they become patients and community outreach campaigns are front-running strategies Aegis has seen executed with impressive results.
  3. Next Generation Physician-Relationship Management – This is about taking a hospital’s physician engagement to the next level. Building physician loyalty has long been a key tenant of a hospital’s key objectives. Enhanced physician data analytics now offer a view to precise referral habits and leakage patterns. With this technology, hospitals can increase service line growth by focusing alignment activities where they can make the most impact and make smarter decisions about future practice investments.
  4. The Age of Consumerism – Proactive outreach takes the forefront in engaging consumers and looking at the healthcare experience from their point of view. Not only do hospitals need to execute consumer-directed healthcare practices that differentiate them as “providers of choice” in their markets, they also must identify ways to meet consumers where they are. “As an industry, we must communicate with consumers in a way that is personal, engaging and actionable if we are to expect them to adopt a healthier lifestyle,” Suiter adds. Communications can run encompass a variety of Web and mobility options, text, email and even direct mail campaigns, depending on your audience profile and preferences.”
  5. Achieving a Productive Balance – Healthcare organizations are realizing ways to optimize the balance between fee-for-service and pay-for-performance as they live in two worlds at once. Many progressive hospital leaders are going beyond value-based contracts with their payers; additionally they are becoming health plan sponsors as they adopt direct-to-employer contracting strategies and narrow networks which can offer a “meet in the middle” solution. This balancing act is key to optimizing opportunities with insured populations while establishing the infrastructure necessary to manage patients in an integrated delivery environment.
  6. Wellness is the New Black Wellness has gained a prominence no one would have predicted a few short years ago. Health systems are setting the bar by embracing programs that use incentives to encourage participation and benefitting from a decrease in health-related expenses, higher productivity and morale, lower absenteeism and workers compensation claims. They are also actively taking wellness programs into the community by working with local employers and other targeted populations. Hospitals realize they need to position themselves as the trusted partners to which local residents should turn for education and support, creating preference for their services and programs.





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Analytics-driven outreach improves community health for RMC

Kathryn C. Rhoad  - Marketing Director
By Kathy Rhoad  | December 22, 2014

Separate programs to strengthen employer relationships and physician ties in the community are not unusual, but those efforts are often siloed.

That’s why Regional Medical Center in Orangeburg, S.C., has worked hard to develop an integrated strategy that addresses both employer and physician relationship management. It’s an innovative blend of technology and basic marketing tenets.
In our service area, there are about 123 major employers with 21,000 employees, many of whom either suffer from chronic conditions, or are at risk of doing so for a variety of reasons (obesity, no primary-care physician, overdue preventive testing and so on). Our joint employer/physician relationship management program (guided by an outside partner) identifies the employees with the greatest health needs and helps connect them with hospital physicians and services that can lead to improved health.

Employers benefit because the program targets the roughly 15% of employees responsible for about 75% of healthcare spending, steadily improving their outcomes and lowering costs. Overall, providers benefit because more employees are motivated to seek support, testing and treatment.

This program utilizes a robust data-analytics platform, plus some low-tech outreach. For example, the system recently identified 277 individuals with diabetes who then received a letter about our new Healthy Living Center, where physicians, dietitians and exercise physiologists work closely with individuals dealing with diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Similar letters have gone out to employees with no current primary-care physician and those who are overdue for important screenings such as mammograms. For the cost of a letter and postage, we’ve been able to generate nearly $7 million in new revenue and add more than 150 new patients in the past two years. There’s also been a corresponding 26.4% increase in outpatient-services referral growth from our affiliated physicians and a 13% increase from independent providers.

In our view, it’s a smart way to bridge the transition from fee-for-service to value-based care. The database marketing campaigns help increase today’s volumes while creating a strong foundation for population-health management.

Value-based care is really about leveraging the power of relationships. A health system can strengthen its ties with local employers by conducting health-risk assessments and onsite screenings to identify employees most at risk. Those employees are then encouraged to deepen their relationships with our system and doctors. The result is that hospital and physician volumes increase—and at-risk employees have a higher probability of adopting healthier lifestyles.

Kathy Rhoad is marketing director at the Regional Medical Center in Orangeburg, S.C., a 286-bed acute care facility with more than 100 physicians on staff, 20 primary-care and specialty practices, and two urgent-care clinics.

Aegis Health Care partnered with the Regional Medical on the development of both their employer and physician-directed programs.

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Population 2.0 – The Age of the Consumer

By, Phil Suiter, President and CEO – Aegis Health Group

Healthcare consumerism is gaining momentum with every tick of the clock.  There has never been a period in our lifetime when consumers were more empowered to make purchasing decisions regarding their healthcare.  And there has never been a time that Americans have been so challenged with taking responsibility for their own health. This trend has its genesis in the long battle American business has waged against skyrocketing healthcare costs. Now pressure from the ACA to influence a healthier workforce and non-stop media coverage on why the U.S. is fatter and sicker than ever  add to the interest in population health.

Also a major influence, the rise of cost-sharing arrangements such as high-deductible health plans to the health insurance exchanges created as a result of the ACA. This has added pressure for consumers being charged with making their own choices along the healthcare continuum.  Consumers and businesses alike are looking for answers, guidance, and support.

This is good news for payers and employers.

Population health management – the fundamental concept behind the ACA – hinges on keeping people healthy and managing and mitigating chronic conditions.  If done right, healthcare costs could hypothetically be stabilized as more consumers stay out of the hospitals.  Health systems are evolving from entities offering services only within their four walls to accountable care organizations and varying types of clinically integrated networks that manage a defined population’s health.  This reality makes them the ideal partners to create wellness programs and corresponding services, while addressing what seems like an unsolvable challenge.

Data – The Driver of Population Health

In Population Health 2.0health systems are enthusiastically engaging with consumers. They do this by creating critical partnerships with local employers and community groups to identify health risks and manage consumers’ health through ongoing, strategically planned outreach.  By collecting and tracking data about individuals with their informed consent, hospitals can proactively build relationships and develop tailored prevention & wellness services for each participant.  The reach of the internet helps facilitate this in new and dramatic ways.  According to the Pew Center for Research:

  • 60 percent of U.S. adults say they track their weight, diet or exercise routine; and 33 percent track health indicators like blood pressure, blood sugar, headaches or sleep patterns using online or mobile tools.
  • 46 percent attribute tracking to an overall change in their approach to maintaining their health
  • 34 percent say tracking has affected a decision about how to treat an illness or condition.

In the most strategic use of the Web, many progressive health systems are offering online portals that effectively engage consumers before they become “patients”. These portals are a hallmark of population health 2.0 because they go far beyond collecting only clinical information, and effectively connect with consumers who aren’t yet patients. They do this through specific engagement initiatives that support health monitoring, prevention and education programming, health risk reduction and other relevant initiatives.

Population Health Portals:  Raising the Bar


These dynamic population health portals are essentially “one-stop” health management destinations. They allow consumers to view personalized health information tailored to their health profile, concerns and interests. They can track health improvements and biometrics such as weight, cholesterol and blood glucose as well as schedule classes, workshops and health screenings. Some health systems even offer online health coaching and syncing with health devices, such as Fitbits.

Despite the inevitable tweaks that legislators will make to the mechanics of the ACA, one thing will remain constant: consumerism in health care is here to stay. It’s about uniting everyone in the common goal of good health – consumers, employers, payers, and health systems,

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Population Health Management – Hospital Deployment Trends Research: Independent Survey Results

By Debora Glennon, Director of Marketing, Aegis Health Group


Throughout 2013 Aegis Health Group conducted its second research study with senior level hospital decision-makers and their management team.  The study evaluated current and future plans regarding Population Health Management (PHM) and the shift in importance to overall strategy, target markets and more.


Hospital Leadership – Current and Future Strategies, Insights: Key Trends

  • PHM programs are now solidifying into successful initiatives with real results.
  • Responsibility for PHM is moving to operational departments and gaining executive support.
  • With this taking place, hospitals are now expanding into new market segments to expand their reach across their communities.

Some interesting findings include: Profile


    • 93% currently have community outreach initiatives to include health fairs, educational lectures, etc.
    • Slightly more than half (54%) have a formalized PHM program. Another 29% are looking to add one within the next year and 17% within 2-5 years.
    • 76% have partnerships with local employers (workforce health) with 20% looking to expand within one year and 4% within 2-5 years.
  • Respondents showed a heightened interest in growing new markets, especially schools, employer and religious groups, community organizations

ipmt to mission

When asked to rate the importance of Population Health Management to their hospital’s overall mission and strategic planning:

  • 34% rated “extremely important”
  • 44% rated “very important”
  • 17% rated “important”

Organizational Responsibility

In 2013 the responsibility for PHM Programs shifted away from the Marketing and Business Development to operational departments like the Medical Affairs or Community Outreach.

NEW NEW Dept Resp







Target Market Shift 

Concentration on Medicare, Medicaid and Senior Market segments changed very little.

However, respondents did show a growing interest in new markets like community organizations, religious groups and schools.

shifting markets

Strategic Program Emphasis

When asked about program emphasis for the current and following year, establishing a formalized population health management (PHM) program along with employer partnerships were by far ranked highest on the list for the near term, with physician relationship management (PRM) not far behind. All rated significantly higher in importance than the previous period.  It should be interesting to see if the “next year” projections align with the study or come closer to following the current trend line.

Key: PHM: Population Health Management;  PRM: Physician Relationship Management

Program deployment view

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