It’s 2019. It’s the New Year and a time for new beginnings. If you are an HR professional or benefits advisor, it is also the time to review year-end reports and start the work toward developing new programs promising better outcomes.

But imagine if you received a year-end report that included the following:

  • Increased employee engagement by 49%
  • Decreased medical spend by 36%
  • Reduced diabetes medication use and improved A1c control
  • Decreased Polypharmacy
  • Confirmed increased financial reserves without benefit changes or employer contribution rate increases

These numbers aren’t imaginary. They are real, and they are possible. Vital Incite validated all the above results for the Carmel Clay Schools (CCS) Wellness Center in the case study, Employee Wellness Center Delivers Exceptional Outcomes for School System, released in the fall of 2018.

How did objective data make a difference? And most importantly, how can your company/client get the same data-driven results? Vital Incite sat down with two key parties of the CCS Wellness Center to learn more.

Associate Superintendent of Carmel Clay Schools, Roger McMichael

Roger McMichael is the visionary behind the CCS Wellness Center and the administrator who convinced the Carmel Clay School Board to make a $1 million-dollar capital investment to refurbish the old IUPUI/Ivy Tech building on their campus for the Center.

He also negotiated the partnership with Ascension St. Vincent Health to provide services for the CCS Wellness Center. The services are a holistic/Lifestyle Medicine approach and include preventative care, chronic disease management, medication therapy management, behavioral health services, dietetics, exercise physiology services, physical therapy, wellness coordination, and fitness classes.

All are at no cost to the employee.

Q: The School Board trusted your vision and leadership of the CCS Wellness Center. In addition, from 2013-2018 they saw no benefit plan cost increases for the school or employees. After five years of unquestioned success, what was the motivation to get the objective data from Vital Incite?

A: The end result of no premium increases indicated we must be making a difference, but we needed the data to confirm our assumptions. Further, Vital Incite provided specific, targeted data which we now use to establish specific goals.  CCS believed it was important to receive the data from an objective 3rd party.

 Q: How has the data defined your project?

A: The data has provided several specific data points which, taken together, confirm the program is making a positive difference in the lives of our employees and their dependents. 

Q: What has been the greatest surprise from the data? From that surprise, what would you now do differently?

A: The greatest surprise was the very targeted data we received from Vital Incite.  The data not only confirms our positive results, it also drives our decisions and actions going forward.  The data enables us to precisely target areas for improvement. 

Q As an employer, how has the data helped you?

A:  As a public employer, it is important to demonstrate we are good stewards of tax dollars. The data confirms this program is a sound investment for our employees and taxpayers. 

Q: As other employers or HR professionals review their yearend reports, what is one piece of advice would you give them as they imagine better outcomes for their employees’ health and reduced medical spend?

A: I would highly recommend a holistic approach, a long-term view and a focus on the needs of the patients and not just on the immediate cost.  The ROI may be delayed, but short-term investments often result in long-term gains.

Lead Physician, Elisabeth Prosser, MD

Dr. Prosser was the first physician hired for the CCS Wellness Center. She brought 20 years of primary care practice experience as well as her certification and passion for Lifestyle Medicine.

Q: You have been at the Center from the beginning.  You have seen the growth, the changes. Vital Incite’s data validated the CCS Wellness Center outcomes in increased employee engagement, decreased diabetes medication, and reduced polypharmacy.  What did you learn from the data?

A: When seeing patients on a day to day basis, it is very difficult to get an idea of the group as a whole. Vital Incite has helped us identify patient groups at risk and tailor interventions to improve outcomes. Risk stratification is foundational to the management of population groups. Vital Incite gave us the feedback we needed to know what was working well in our management, what areas could be better, and also the insight we needed to explore new areas of engagement to improve the health of the Carmel Clay population. 

Q: How will you change moving forward?

A: We are increasing staff to accommodate demand. We are looking toward increasing patient engagement in getting physicals. We are in process of implementing programs to reduce risk migration of low to moderate risk patients and also putting processes in place to reach to our high-risk patients to manage their needs more successfully. The information provided by Vital Incite has been very valuable in helping us manage the Carmel Clay population to better health. From the patient side, the information provided is allowing us to provide more meaningful services to those who need it most. 

 Q:  You are a certified Lifestyle Medicine practitioner. How does Lifestyle medicine tie-in?

A: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports 6 in 10 adults in the US have a chronic disease and 4 in 10 have two or more. Chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes are leading causes of death and disability and are also leading drivers of health care costs. Most chronic diseases are caused by lifestyle choices such as tobacco, poor nutrition, lack of physical activity, to name a few. Lifestyle medicine is an evidence-based approach to preventing, treating and even reducing diseases by helping patients replace unhealthy behaviors with more positive ones. Helping people make those changes isn’t easy. The training I received through the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) has enabled me to apply therapeutic lifestyle approaches more effectively.

Q: What is one piece of advice you would like to share with a colleague working at a school or employer Wellness Center or onsite clinic?

A: It is very difficult to think of one piece of advice since many areas need to be considered. Here are my thoughts overall. Develop a good healthcare team, support them, and value their contribution since they are the cornerstone of good care. Develop a good relationship with area hospitals and their staff; your sickest patients will need that continuity of care. Population analytics that allow risk stratification and insight to allow action plans to be implemented to produce better health for patients. Lastly, I would strongly encourage becoming certified as a Lifestyle Medicine physician. The ACLM provides evidence-based education and resources to help us support and guide our patients into good health, not just the absence of disease.