Ask Jill
05.21.2019

Does Worksite Wellness Matter?

Yes, it does! NMC just got our year-in-review summary from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Vermont (BC/BS) and the impact of our award-winning HealthyU employee wellness program is clear. Our employees are getting healthier – and healthier employees experience lower overall healthcare costs. Plus, research cited in Forbes Magazine in 2018 shows worksite wellness programs support employee engagement and improved engagement as well as having “a positive effect on recruitment, retention, and overall company culture.” Those factors are all good business for any business.

We can feel that impact here at NMC. Dr. Elisabeth Fontaine, Medical Director of RiseVT and the Lifestyle Team, which includes our HealthyU program, asked the BC/BS statisticians to study the cohort of the 426 NMC employees who participated in our Health Risk Appraisal in both 2017 and 2018. We are thrilled to see improvement from year to year in that group, as the percentage of those who were scored as “low risk” went up and the percentage of those at “moderate risk” or “high risk” came down!  That is fantastic! Long term, a reduction in overall risk reduces incidence of costly conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

This improvement is a key strategy in reducing overall healthcare costs. By reducing risks, we reduce the demand for higher intensity medical interventions. We can see that within our own NMC workforce, as the average annual per person cost for those at low risk is nearly $1,000 less on a yearly basis than it is for those at moderate/high risk. Coaching people to stay healthy and helping others to reduce their risk directly benefits individuals, families, employers, and the state as a whole!

Dr. Fontaine has been a tireless advocate for prevention, healthy habits, and positive lifestyle choices to improve personal health. It has such an impact. NMC’s workforce is a good sampling of our greater community and we know that if we have proving results at NMC, these same gains are possible with every workforce in the region. We are proud of the work the Lifestyle Team is doing with individuals at NMC through HealthyU and at other worksites such as Vermont Precision Tools. For more information on how NMC’s Lifestyle Team can help you with healthier habits in your workforce, call them at 524-1227.

Exceptional worksite wellness does not happen in a vacuum. We need a culture where the healthy choice is the easy choice across our communities and where healthy living is the norm.  RiseVT is helping drive that change. They are amplifying the positive work happening by many and helping with improvements and partnerships to create the policies, infrastructure, and engagement where healthy intentions can thrive. We are so excited to be helping local supervisory unions improve school wellness programs; helping local municipalities plan for more walkable and bikeable communities; and helping local families discover the many wonderful resources available right here in our own community for active play and healthy eating. To join in on the RiseVT movement, please visit www.RiseVT.org or connect with RiseVT through social media!

As the region’s trusted and largest healthcare provider, NMC needs to lead by example in wellness and prevention. Our investment in our workforce through HealthyU is just one of the ways we do that. It’s working. It shows in the health of our employees and in the cost difference between those at low risk and those with higher risks. We are actively working to bring this success to other worksites as part of the effort to health coach our Franklin and Grand Isle counties to total wellbeing.   Creating healthy communities is a long-term investment.  Thank you to our Board for making such an investment.  Congratulations to the Lifestyle Medicine and RiseVT Teams for believing and bringing the vision alive one NMC employee at a time.  The results we have been waiting for are in.

— Jill Bowen, RN, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer