MHLbannersmallBiometric screening, health plan discounts and you

It is my pleasure and honor to welcome you to this inaugural issue of the My Healthy Lifestyle newsletter. As part of my work and as part of my personal interest, I try to spend as much time as possible talking to employees, listening and answering questions. Lately, one of those questions centers on why, with regard to our health plan for 2013 and beyond, we moved to biometric screening as a requirement to receive health plan discounts.

The short answer is that biometric screening, a wellness approach that focuses on risk levels and potential medical issues, is one of the best screening tools we have to know where we are starting from, where we want to go and how we can get there when it comes to your health. The more detailed answer, and the one embedded in our commitment to the health and wellbeing of our employees, their covered spouses and dependents, is that a healthier more vital workforce benefits the individuals who are part of it and the community it serves.

Where are we starting?
Biometric screenings provide the kind of information that lets our team members learn more about their current health status and determine their risk for common chronic diseases including the top three disease states affecting our team members on a daily basis: hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes and hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol levels). In order to make necessary changes you have to know your baseline, and through the process of biometric screening, we are encouraging you to become more familiar with your current state of health. Once you know your baseline numbers and potential risk for future problems, you can work with your primary care physician or medical home to develop effective strategies for improving your health and minimizing future complications or deterioration of health status.

Where do we want to go?
As an organization, we know that our best asset is our employees. Ultimately, the Riverside brand and its basis in healthcare leadership depend on healthy and engaged employees on every level. The best way to reach that objective is for those individuals to be at their optimal level of health and equally important, to know where they are on the health spectrum so they can be engaged in a wellness program to improve and maintain their health.

Biometric screenings will help our team members stay motivated along the health journey. In the past we simply had hard yes/no responses to 1) do you smoke? and 2) is your BMI below 30? That kind of approach represents only a brief moment in time and does not take into account the positive benefits of change.

The biometric screens will give our staff the ability – and the motivation and encouragement – to see their numbers improving as they move in the right direction. As an example, you can take your BMI from 38 to 31 through your diet and exercise habits. Under the old system you would not be rewarded for this positive change. With biometric screening we know that during your journey from a BMI of 38 to 31, you most likely will see an improvement in your blood pressure, glucose and blood cholesterol levels as well. Our new plan will reward our team members for making those changes, and keep them motivated to stay on the right path to see more improvement each and every year.

How do we get there?
Once you know your baseline numbers, you have the starting point to work with your physician to create an appropriate wellness plan. The development of this employee-physician relationship is one of the key drivers for the success of our wellness program. Through the process of getting the biometric screening and reviewing the results with your physician, a relationship can start to develop. This relationship will grow over time so our team members will have a comfort level in making an appointment and following up with their physician on a regular basis. In turn, the potential for earlier intervention increases, allowing Riverside team members to have the support they need to continue down the right path on their health journey.

Should I have a screening even if I think I won't meet the threshold?
Absolutely YES! Even if you don't expect to meet the minimum 30 point threshold we strongly encourage all employees to get a baseline score this year. That way there is a clearer picture of where you are with regard to your health right now – and that gives you the opportunity to talk with your primary care physician about your results and what you can do to make improvements in your health prior to the next screening. Moving forward we ask our employees to show progress each year either by reaching the minimum threshold or by showing a 20 point improvement over the previous year's score. So even if you score only 10 points this year, you can make changes and improve to 30 points by next year and still get the full discount, based on the 20 point improvement over your baseline score. The improvement would qualify you for the discount even though the threshold next year will be 50 points. But, if we don't have a baseline score from you this year, then the only option is to hit the minimum 50 point threshold next year.

I hope I've helped answer your questions. Now I have one. Have you scheduled your biometric screening today?Daniel Ballin

Daniel Ballin
Chair, My Healthy Lifestyle Employee Wellness Committee

(Editor's Note: In addition to serving as Chair for the Employee Wellness Committee, Daniel is the Administrator of Riverside's Therapy Group, Wellness and Outpatient Services with the responsibility of overseeing all of Riverside's therapy services along with Riverside's Wellness and Fitness Centers in Newport News and Gloucester.)

Daniel's Quote of the Month
"Seven days without exercise makes one weak."