Implementing Outcome Based Wellness – Making the Switch

By DrScott – Posted on February 4, 2014 on www.compassphs.com

Fourth in the How to Switch On Your Employees Series

How does a company switch directions to a plan that will actually improve the health of their employees and reduce health care costs? Using the paradigm for effective change from the book Switch by Chip and Dan Heath, the analogy of a rider changing the direction of an elephant as it walks down the well-established (less desirable) path, they reveal that it is not a single strategy that insures success, but multiple concurrent strategies that are needed.

In this blog we are going to focus on the first of these factors; the rider. The “rider” must know:

  1. The exact destination (To change, the rider must know where to go):
    • In health benefit terms, employees must:
      • get their biometrics done,
      • get their numbers to goal, and
      • identify and see a high quality primary care doctor for US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) wellness, cancer screenings, and fulfill diabetes and heart disease recommended guidelines.
  2.  Script the critical moves (The rider must understand the specific steps to complete):
    • The employee learns where they must go to accomplish required steps and where to get more information:
      • Biometrics will be done at certain locations without charge for employees throughout the year, or get biometrics done at their primary care doctors and send in a required form;
      • Seeking out a high quality primary care doctor and following recommendations;
      • Being directed to the list of USPSTF age and gender appropriate tests that are available on line.
  3. Why go to this destination? (The rider must know why the change is necessary):
    • Treating conditions early, or preventing conditions, improves and saves lives, and also saves money.
    • Just acting based on if an employee “feels fine” delays identification of early diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Early disease must be addressed before symptoms appear.

The rider is much smaller than the elephant and therefore must exert significant energy to change its direction. Clarity, commitment, and a well-designed plan are vital. Otherwise, the resources needed to promote change without such clarity, commitment or a well-designed plan make having to attempt to “turn the elephant” a second or third time cost prohibitive in both resources and energy, and usually without the desired sustainable results.

There must be a sense that the journey is attainable. If the destination seems too far away, or the required change is too drastic, the rider can lose enthusiasm and focus. Laying out realistic and attainable “baby steps” allows the rider to stay focused.

Insure the “rider” of your change efforts knows exactly what to do and how to do it. Breaking the steps into smaller manageable steps increases the likelihood of change being successful. But the rider is only one part of the equation. In the next blog we will look at motivating the elephant to stay on the right path.

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