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Hospital System, Citing Costs, Hones In On Employees' Health

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, July 18, 2011

"We've pushed the envelope a little bit," with respect to HIPAA, (the Health Insurance Accountability and Affordability Act) Heller acknowledged. But that was possible because, he said, Baptist functions in a culture that is transparent. Between 40% and 45% of the workforce take the survey each year, which asked questions about such issues as body mass index.

On that basis, the system determined that about 800 were in a high-risk group and another 3,900 were at moderate to high risk.

Baptist decided to target those higher risk individuals to get them on the right track. The hospital system uses health coaches, gym memberships, reminder and checkup calls to employees' homes three times a week and even nutrition experts who make visits to an employee's home to "look in their pantries – that's a pretty serious intervention."

They are even contemplating similar interventions for employees' covered health plan dependents.

The system offers exercise physiologists, onsite fitness centers, 50% discounts for certain "healthy" labeled meals and even buys fresh fruits and vegetables for some of its lower income workers.

"That's an aspect of this program – if employees can't buy nutritious food, we buy it for them, to eliminate financial barriers" that keep them from adopting behaviors to reduce their progression to chronic disease.

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