Armed with the results of a successful wellness pilot, Florida's NCH Healthcare System sought and won the support of local officials. That was just the beginning.
Think of Naples, Florida, and images of fit and thriving people come to mind. But Collier County, where Naples is located, incorporates a widely diverse population with specific health needs and challenges—including the elderly, snowbirds (retirees staying during the winter months), a growing segment of young mothers, and migrant workers in the county's interior.
Allen Weiss, MD
In an effort to provide quality care beyond its patients, NCH Healthcare System is extending its population health efforts to achieve a healthier overall community. Within the population of 350,000 there are many serious health challenges.
So after an experiment of promoting wellness proved successful in improving health and decreasing costs with its own controlled groups, Allen Weiss, MD, president and CEO of NCH Healthcare System, decided to take this concept county-wide.
One of every two adults in the NCH's community has a chronic condition or disease and the county's interior includes migrant workers and other economically disadvantaged populations. Collier County also lists more fast food restaurants on average than other Florida counties, and physical activity level is lower than the rest of the state.
On February 23, 2016, HealthLeaders Media will meet with the leaders of NCH and discuss their blueprint for success during the live web event, "Population Health: Lowering Costs and Improving Health Through Clinical Reinvention, Promoting Wellness, and Managing Risk." Register now.
"Half of the kids in the inland part of the county come from non-English speaking households, and many children participate in free lunch programs," Weiss says. "We can't move the needle in this county unless we get these folks on board."
Armed with data demonstrating NCH's financial savings, Weiss approached the local government and Chamber of Commerce to secure their buy-in. He pointed to a September 2014, article in USA Today that listed Naples as one of the healthiest places to live in the U.S., and proposed that if they could collectively work to establish Collier County as the healthiest place in the country, they could attract people and jobs, thereby fostering a recession-proof region.
With endorsements from local government and the business community, Weiss began researching wellness programs and came across the "Blue Zones Project" from the bestseller, "The Blue Zones" by Dan Buettner. The book identifies areas where people live the longest, healthiest lives.