Employee Engagement

Switching Employees On: Using Video to Entertain, Engage, and Educate

By DrScott – Posted on February 27, 2014 on www.compassphs.com

Second in the Switching Employees On: Using Video to Entertain, Engage, and Educate Series

Heart disease is the #1 killer of Americans. The problem is that we often “feel fine” until it is too late – 50% of men and 66% of women die the first time they feel chest pain, according to the American Heart Association. To “turn the elephant” toward a new path away from unnecessary heart attacks and strokes to a long vital life requires creative interventions. In this video all three principles from Switch, How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Dan and Chip Health are addressed.

  1. The rider is directed to “get your biometrics and screening done even though you feel fine”.
  2. The elephant is motivated because “wonderful people who ‘felt fine’ did not get to be there for their spouse and children”.
  3. The path to better care is made clear by “contacting your Health Pro if you do not know what tests are recommended for you, or you need a high quality doctor.”

Using this and other tools this employer has been able to increase annual physicals among its insured members over time. Watch the video here

Motivating Employees. More Than Providing Direction

By DrScott – Posted on February 6, 2014 on www.compassphs.com

Fifth in the How to Switch On Your Employees Series

An employee from a remote office location stopped by the office of her President at the corporate headquarters. Unsure of the exact purpose for the visit, the CEO thanked her for stopping by and her years of loyal service. Once seated, he paused and asked “how can I help you today?”.

She looked at her hands folded in her lap and said, “Two years ago you announced that we were going to have to get our biometrics done, see our doctor, and get our cancer screening done to qualify for the best health plan. I was really angry. I am 28 years old, a single mother of two children, and frankly, I can barely get everything I need to do done and catch a few hours of sleep at night. To tell me I had to do more felt unfair. But I also could not afford to pay more for my health insurance, so I complied. At my exam the doctor found a breast lump and sent me for a mammogram. I then found out that I had stage one breast cancer. To make a long story short, it was a real hassle, but I got my treatment and the doctors say that I am now cured.”

She paused, obviously straining to maintain her composure. She looked at him directly and continued, “I can tell you that without you requiring me to get my screening I would have put it off another five years. The doctor told me that if I had waited even one more year my cancer would have spread and my chance of surviving would have been a lot less. So I came here today to tell you thank you. Thank you for caring enough to require me to do the right thing, even though it costs the company more money and you didn’t have to. Thank you for saving my life, and thank you for giving my kids their mom; they are still young and would have been alone if I had died.”

Surprised, the President expressed his appreciation at her stopping by to share her story and the great news that the doctor thought she was healed from her cancer. This was the second time in a month an employee had contacted him to thank him for helping discover early cancer.

Their health plan had gone from just another requirement, to a campaign to catch disease early, and to save employees lives. Employees were inspired, and morale was better than ever. They had even begun a program to support “Health Champions” who encourage and support their employees in taking the ‘Baby Steps’ to go from reactive to proactive lifestyles, and to create a culture of wellness.

Chip and Dan Heath in their book, Switch – How to Change Things When Change is Hard, point out the need for three major principles to be honored in order to promote successful change (see previous blogs). The rider must be directed, the elephant must be motivated, and the path must be clear.  In this instance, the company provided employees motivation to move down a different path to a new destination. The employees not only understood the task at hand, but also found the feeling that motivated them to change. The change had been broken into realistic small steps, and employees gained more knowledge and experience in proactive wellness. A new mindset was emerging. It had taken two years but success was no longer in question.

Making the Turn – Changing to Outcome Based Wellness

By DrScott – Posted on January 28, 2014 on www.compassphs.com

Third in the How to Switch On Your Employees Series

Recently an HR team met to plan next year’s health benefits. It started with a review of last year’s changes and outcomes. Health costs went up 5%, but the projection for this year was closer to 10% with the new Accountable Care Act changes. Their President made it clear that the company could not tolerate a 10% increase and they had to find a way to better manage the situation.

There was a general sense of frustration around the table. Catastrophic costs driven by diabetes, surgeries, cancer, and heart disease again were the top challenges, and little headway had been made. The wellness program had paid out thousands of dollars to encourage employees to eat better, exercise more, and get their biometric screenings, but participation was still in the low 30% range. The HR team knew they had to make a significant change to make progress.

They studied other companies that had been successful in managing costs and decided that the keys for success were for every employee and their spouse to do the following:

  1. Get their biometrics and normalize any that were not to goal,
  2. Get age and gender appropriate wellness tests and exams recommended by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) performed by a high quality primary care doctor (preferably a patient centered medical home), and
  3. Get the USPSTF recommended screening for cancer and treatment for diabetes, and heart disease performed at high value providers

All employees were to be moved to a high deductible health plan to increase their involvement and to create a personal investment in making sure they took care of their health and had “skin in the game.”

The HR team was really concerned about the reaction by the employees when this was announced. They appreciated their President wanting to save money on health care and wanted to have this go off without a hitch.  Therefore, they reached out to the HR staff at several companies that had successfully made this change and got their advice on how to roll out the plan.

In the next few blogs we will review how they decided to roll this out to insure success. To make it more accessible, and interesting, we will use the paradigm laid out in the book Switch by Dan and Chip Heath. We will explore how to change the direction of the “elephant” walking down the old familiar path, directing the rider, motivating the elephant, and re-shaping the path.

The Five to Fifteen Year Window to Reduce Healthcare Costs & to Save Lives

By DrScott – Posted on December 12, 2013 on www.compassphs.com

In the first installment of the Seven Number Series, we understand how three of your biggest expenses are slowly (and effectively) attacking your company. The key to stopping this epidemic? Acting early – preventing pre-disease from moving to disease. During this phase, which lasts 5 to 15 years, our bodies have the ability to undo or delay any long term damage. If we stop the lifestyle and habits, our bodies will heal the damage – return to normal functioning, and even repair body tissues that are beginning to fail (diabetes & heart disease) or grow abnormally (cancer). Perhaps the best example of pre-disease that can be reversed is metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is defined as the appearance of any three of these five numbers on an employee’s biometrics:

1. A waist circumference of 35 inches for women, 40 inches for men

2. Triglycerides (a lab test for blood fat) of over 150 mg/dl

3. A reduction in good – HDL cholesterol to <50 in women, < 40 in men

4. A blood sugar of >100 mg/dl

5. A blood pressure of >130/85

What do you do when you know these numbers? Simple, set up programs and activities to get them down. Everything from participating in 5K walks and bike rides, changing food out in the vending machines and your café, bring in targeted programs, and so forth. These actions should be part of your health benefits design and included based on their effectiveness.

Equally important to these efforts is activating and empowering employees to get more involved in understanding, monitoring and managing their health. Focus on what really matters – getting these Seven Numbers to goal. Putting incentives and penalties in place over a series of years is vital to actually decreasing illness, disability, and costs. Having a foundation to communicate with your employees, to empower them, is necessary for success. Please feel free to request a copy of The Seven Numbers book.

Follow my blog posts and I will give examples of companies that are doing these types of changes today with outstanding results.

Proactive Providers Save Lives and Money

By DrScott – Posted on November 26, 2013 on www.compassphs.com

In my private practice in the 1990s, I often would see patients for 7 to 15 minutes, three times a year, trying to inspire them and direct them in management of high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other medical conditions. One particular patient I remember was a mechanic working at a large defense contractor. He had diabetes, high cholesterol, and an at-risk blood pressure. Every year he would come in for his physical because it was required by his employer. I would test his blood and consistently find that his cholesterol and other numbers were not well managed. We talked about how important it was to treat these conditions. I would offer additional medications and teach him to improve his lifestyle. He always assured me that he “felt fine” and didn’t think there was anything significantly wrong. A year later nothing changed and he continued down the same path.

Then one year, he came in with a form from his employer and asked me to fill in his numbers to then send back to his employer. Upon completing the form and handing it back to him, he said he had a new incentive program at work and was rewarded if his numbers met the goal. I asked him if he was willing to take additional medications and he said he would do “whatever it takes”. Low and behold, he saw a dietician, took additional medicine, and got his numbers to goal. Upon receiving the reward from his employer, he and his wife used that money to take a trip in their RV to the Pacific Northwest.

This continued for the next several years with him maintaining and managing his numbers to goal because his employer would reward him for his behavior. After he retired he was no longer incentivized, lost focus on his numbers, and had a significant heart attack several years later. I believe we prevented this for years through his engagement.

It was through interactions like this that it became clear to me that seeing a patient for 7 to 15 minutes, three times a year was only a portion of the solution. Having a partnership with employers that encourage and support employees engaging in proactive healthcare was equally important. Through this partnership, employees would win significantly.