by Leesa Tori
I just returned from two intense days in Scottsdale, Arizona, where I attended – and was a panel judge for! – The Care Continuum Alliance’s annual conference. It was a whirlwind of opinions, plans and programs from expert thinkers committed to improving population health. The attendees included those from wellness and health promotion, prevention, care coordination and patient advocacy, condition management and complex case management, and folks who are generally passionate about wellness matters and have something to contribute to the conversation.
I was honored to have been invited to judge presentations at the Forum’s track on “Improving the Health and Productivity of Our Workforce.” The presenters I watched were quite impressive, offering their insights into innovative wellness and care management programs, providing clear takeaways to help attendees implement, evaluate and improve their own programs. Different population health models and strategies from development to delivery were covered in order that stakeholders could take home new tools for their work towards improving outcomes, demonstrating value and increasing quality of care and services.
One of the presentations I especially enjoyed was “Workplace Wellness Study: Employer Insights on Incentives, Programs and Success Strategies.” Beena Thomas and Seth Serxner from Optum, a global health services firm focusing on population health, presented their findings on the approaches human resources professionals are taking to administer health and wellness solutions at their companies. The good news they shared is that not only are more companies joining the ranks in offering wellness programs in the workplace, but their efforts are showing great success. One of the most important takeaways from this presentation was the significant value employers accrue when their wellness strategy is driven by an approach emphasizing “health ownership,” resulting in higher perceived levels of employee well-being and increased employee participation.
As you know, I have been thrilled that with the launch of the Affordable Care Act has come a newly engaged focus on population wellness, as the health care community shifts from incentivizing high volumes of health care services, to rewarding the quality of what’s provided instead. This is not an easy undertaking and could take years to provide measurable results. But I am happy every day that folks in the health policy community have identified the big elephant in the room, and are willing to do something about it.
Like I said, changing the priorities of health care delivery from treating sickness to keeping consumers healthy won’t be simple, as the stakeholders are many: employers, payers, providers, and last but not least, consumers. Payment and delivery systems are mind-bogglingly complex and won’t easily evolve. But there’s not doubt in my mind we’re moving in the right direction.