By Amy Crowley
The Health Collaborative is proud to present the TriHealth Corporate Health team with the 2019 Inspire Healthcare Technology Award.
This award acknowledges the individual, team, or organization that has applied data, notification products, or business intelligence to create a solution to an ongoing challenge.
See how this team used the power of data to develop a customized solution that changed health behaviors and improved health outcomes.
An Unconventional Approach to an Old Problem
TriHealth Corporate Health has helped companies across the region lower costs and improve their workforce health. From onsite nursing and medical services to custom wellness programs and health coaching, the corporate health team is committed to helping employers build a healthy, safe and productive workforce.
For many of its clients, employer-sponsored healthcare spending continues to climb due to rising medical expenditures and unhealthy employee behaviors which often leads to absenteeism and lost work productivity. It is estimated that 69 percent of U.S. healthcare costs are influenced by patient behavior yet the motivation and follow-through to make lifestyle changes to improve health is between 20 and 30 percent.
Seeking innovative ways to help reduce these costs for employers and help employees significantly improve their overall health, the TriHealth Corporate Health team led by Terri Hanlon-Bremer, MSN took an unconventional approach to tackling the problem.
“We knew there had to be a better way to tackle a very old problem,” said Terri Hanlon-Bremer, VP of TriHealth Employer Solutions. “Without getting to an individual’s motivational level to make significant health changes, many patients simply do not take action or move forward with positive lifestyle changes.”
To tackle this issue head on, TriHealth decided to drive sustainable behavior change by applying consumer science methodologies, a practice typically used by consumer product and service brands like retailers and banks, not healthcare companies. In partnership with Judd Weis and team from Cincinnati Consulting Consortium, the concept was to address employee health issues with a customized health plan and solution that fit the individual, at their motivational and attitude level. Instead of trying to counter unhealthy habits with a one-size-fits-all approach, the TriHealth team wanted to increase patient engagement with solutions that resonated with the individual’s specific needs.
“We knew there had to be a better way to tackle a very old problem.”
Securing the Funding to Hit the Ground Running
The team was awarded a $1.2 million grant from bi3. Since 2010, this grantmaking initiative within Bethesda Inc. has invested more than $48 million to transform health and healthcare making it one of Ohio’s largest health-focused grantmakers. Its philanthropic investments fund innovative ideas that have the ability to spark and scale new approaches to improve community heath in our region and beyond. TriHealth’s project fit the bill.
With the generous grant from bi3, the TriHealth team hit the ground running. It began by pulling, combining and analyzing rich data from employers, consumers and clinical health resources to provide a holistic view of an individual so that customized interventions and programs could be developed to achieve the best results. The TriHealth team then paired behavioral data (what motivates consumers and how they form habits) with the existing body of data (demographics, health conditions and medications). The results were then handed over to health coaches who could create custom programs to motivate patients, increase adherence rates and overall improve health outcomes. Standardized metrics were developed for coaching interventions and integrated data into each patient’s electronic medial record.
“Our coaches address a range of issues, including weight management, exercise, nutrition, work/life balance and more,” said Lori Slusser, Assistant Manager, Worksite Wellbeing. “With this new data in hand, our coaches now have a more informed approach to tackling these issues per individual and create a program that not only produces results for the patient but brings better outcomes for the organization as a whole.”
To start, the pilot program included three employers from different corporate sectors with a combined total of 2,000 patients who participated in the program. Key outcomes of the project year vs. the previous year’s data included:
- 4% increase in healthy behaviors
- 5% improvement in the elimination of health risks such as smoking or inactivity
- 39% improvement in the number of health risks eliminated
- 9% improvement in program satisfaction
- $621,000 in health savings for one employer in a single year
Beyond the quantitative metrics, the TriHealth team gained valuable insights into how a program like this can expand and serve as a best practice in the industry. Learning points included:
- Recognition that not all patients are ready for change which led to the development of a “Preparing to Change” coaching program
- System-wide alignment on coaching processes, outcomes and data collection is critical
- Communicating the design and impact of technology-based programs is challenging and should be grounded in examples of patient experience
The TriHealth Corporate Health team has truly improved lives through the use of technology. Their application of consumer science methodologies is helping close the gap between employee action to improve healthy habits and reducing the cost of healthcare for employers.
Congratulations to all involved with this amazing program. TriHealth Corporate Health’s impact on healthy behaviors and lowering the overall cost of care has us feeling INSPIRED.