by Sarah Gunter
While addressing population health management with a modern, holistic view of health might be necessary, it can also be daunting! As our knowledge evolves, we understand that our individual health is impacted by multiple factors including genetics and lifestyle, but also by social determinants of health, such as the places and environments where we live and work that are not always in our individual control. But uncovering the myriad root causes impacting a population’s health often feels like widening the scope of the problem, making it that much harder to solve.
Krista Yoder Latortue, President of Provider Networks at Wellness Coaches, however, explains, “The good news here is that it's not a doomsday. The reality is that despite these endless causes of health risk, there's very tangible proven interventions that actually work.” At Wellness Coaches, a company with over 20 years of experience in healthcare, these interventions include teams of different Health and Wellness Coaches working alongside Registered Dietitians to provide employees with one-on-one coaching and nutrition sessions.
Currently, 73.6% of American adults are overweight, 42.4% are obese, and 61% reported undesired weight gain during the pandemic. As population health in the U.S. declines, the idea of Corporate Social Responsibility is becoming more and more popular. Most people want, of course, to stay as healthy and injury free as possible. However, this is not always an easy goal for people to accomplish on their own—this is where one-on-one, professional help and support provided by one’s employer can really make a difference.
Considering that heart disease, which is linked to obesity, is the leading cause of death in the U.S., there’s no question that lifestyle modification might ultimately be life-saving care for employees. But it can also benefit an employer’s bottom line, especially as a National Institute of Health study found that adults with obesity experienced annual medical care costs that were 2x those of adults with normal weight.
With Wellness Coaches, care looks like a combination of specialization and integration. “We deliver what we call top-of-scope practice, which means each provider delivering services within their respective expertise,” Latortue explains.
For example, while one of Wellness Coaches’ Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialists could provide nutritional counseling within their credentialing, their time might be better used to focus on diabetes-specific care, such as blood glucose monitoring and medication. Nutritional counseling would be best provided by one Wellness Coaches’ Registered Dietitians (RD), whose clients receive a highly personalized dive into their nutrition and health behavior. RDs work collaboratively with their clients to determine small improvements over time, considering preferred foods, cultural practices, and budget, and also incorporating Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) where appropriate.
Independent validation of the MNT model used by Wellness Coaches’ RDs from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics demonstrates the following significant outcomes: improved systolic blood pressure, improved diastolic blood pressure, improved BMI, decline in weight, improved waist circumference, improved neck circumference, decreased rates of food insecurity, and increased consumption of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, fish, and water.
“The solutions we have found to drive the outcomes that are published in different scientific evidence-based journals, are those that rely on proven services,” says Latortue. “But those services have to be delivered by the expert providers of each of those services for the best outcomes.”
That interdisciplinary team of expert providers at Wellness Coaches’ also includes on-site as well as virtual health and wellness coaches. Their coaches average 8 years of experience in health-related fields such as occupational therapy and sports medicine and 70% have a master’s degree or an advanced license. Their team even includes bilingual coaches, expanding accessibility to multilingual workplaces.
Onsite coaches routinely visit their client locations to meet with and help employees and employers with a range of issues. For issues such as workplace safety and injury prevention, coaches help identify risky workplace behaviors, provide education on body mechanics as related to safe work performance, and lead mindfulness training to identify musculoskeletal concerns and work through tightness and vulnerability in the body. For population mental health and wellbeing, coaches offer individualized coaching sessions and group activities covering stress management, empowerment and planning, sleep, resilience and coping skills. They’re also trained in Mental Health First Aid in order to better support individuals going through mental health or substance abuse crisis.
Visits from onsite coaches can truly transform a workplace’s wellness strategy as well as its individual employees’ health and wellbeing. Wellness Coaches’ process includes integrating and regularly promoting and referring employees to the network of providers comprising their employer’s healthcare plan. Coaches further a workplace culture of wellbeing by designing, implementing, and coordinating a customized, regular and continuous array of wellness/safety programs and activities.
Healthy Ways, Wellness Coaches digital health platform, offers organizations dynamic activities to drive population engagement and health risk reduction. By combining thousands of algorithms with machine learning, their patented personalization and rule engine delivers individualized content to each member like no other platform on the market. Delivering the right content to the right person at the right time allows Wellness Coaches to nudge the member along in their wellbeing journey.
For organizations looking for a solution like Wellness Coaches, Latortue stresses the importance of outcomes. She says, “We know that brokers, employers, decision makers are getting inundated with so many solutions out there. There's a lot of sexy sells and at the end of the day, you want the solutions that actually drive outcomes and move the needle on that health risk data.”
For Wellness Coaches, the outcomes include industry leading engagement rates. In an Outcomes Report covering 1,000 employer locations in 35 states with 400,000 eligible employee lives, 86% or 342,000 employees were coached, a testament to Wellness Coaches’ commitment to engaging 80-90% of employee populations. Other notable outcomes include:
- 65% of employees were coached one-on-one 4 or more times per year, and 40% were coached 10 or more times per year.
- Services included 2,100,000 biometric tests performed, 890,000 injury prevention one-on-one coaching sessions, 110,000 remote coaching sessions, and 203,000 family coaching sessions.
- 76% of employees improved BMI, and collectively lost 625,000 lbs. Obese population (BMI over 30) dropped 17%.