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May 19 2014
The Courage of Health and Wellness

Organizations continue to look for ways to implement Wellness Programs to improve employees’ overall health while decreasing total healthcare expenses. While progressing, some organizations may still only implement a single wellness program; having minimal impact on health, wellness and expenses.

A good organizational wellness program encompasses several items such as: annual health risk assessments, wellness coaching, dietitian coaching, disease management coaching, and wellness center membership discounts. Wellness coaching relates to general health, fitness, stress management, or a combination to reach optimal health through lifestyle changes.

Wellness coaches devise programs to meet participant goals. They motivate to assist in identifying concerns, and complete body and lifestyle assessments; while helping participants work through improvements. Coaches are trained to listen and get participants talking about themselves.

In turn, dietician coaching teaches participants about healthy foods and eating, while offering recommendations on constructive ways to make nutrition changes. Participants must be open to suggestions, willing to take charge of their personal progress, set goals and commit to themselves to achieve success.

Those with chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension or high cholesterol should seek more specialized disease management coaching. Chronic diseases are the leading causes of death and disability in the U.S., comprising nearly 50 percent of all deaths annually and almost one out of every two adults has at least one chronic disease.

Chronic diseases carry high expenses, with average additional medical costs of $2,500 per risk factor. A small percentage of health plan participants with chronic diseases equates to much higher expenses, so managing this effectively is vital.

Disease management coaching offers insight into ways to manage the chronic disease. Disease management coaching takes a comprehensive approach with participants; focusing on lifestyle choices, medication interactions, daily routine and education of underlying factors to guide individuals toward a healthier, more manageable disease state.

When working with a coach, it is important to have a personal connection. Participants need a sense of support and trust to openly discuss goals and challenges. A respected coach will be compassionate, while offering knowledge and further suggestions to keep on track.

Most organizations’ have seen total healthcare expenses increase during the past several years and are gaining knowledge on implementing wellness programs. Yet, many still ask for “guarantees” of lower expenses and high employee utilization. Aristotle said, “Courage is the first of the human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others.”

Organizational wellness programs require commitment from the participant, organization and healthcare partner. Improved health and lower healthcare expenses can occur when all three entities collaborate to achieve healthier employees and a healthier organization.

Healthcare providers must have courage to offer personalized wellness programs since every organization is unique. Organizations must have courage to effectively communicate and encourage participation, while being patient as these programs take time to demonstrate success. Patients must have courage to invest in their personal wellness. Courage may be the first step to wellness.

David Yeghiaian is Corporate Development Director at Holy Family Memorial. He can be reached at dyeghiaian@hfmhealth.org.


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