Archive for June, 2010

2,600 pages…months later…now what? The impact of health care reform on wellness programs

Many employers get stuck in the mindset that an employee’s health is individual and essentially out of the company’s control. But as health care costs spiral and employees’ health indicators elevate to unhealthy levels, wellness programs have become the focus for many employers hoping to foster an environment of mutual accountability.

Prior to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), consumer surveys revealed something interesting: when asked what they want most out of health care reform, the #1 request was protection against insurance companies denying coverage. A close second was a desire to see a strong focus within the reform bill on disease prevention. So how has the PPACA affected these programs and excess costs?

In addition to mandating prevention and wellness programs as “essential health benefits,” the bill lifts the employer cap on wellness incentives from 20% to 30% of premium costs. As a result of this increase, a recent survey indicates 60 percent of employers are more likely to create or extend their wellness programs. Some employers see this as the most effective way to control long-term costs. Nationwide, a three-to-one return on each dollar invested in employee wellness has been well documented.

So now that the PPACA has arrived, what happens next?  Health care providers as well as wellness experts believe that once health care reform is better understood and implemented, it will undoubtedly lead more companies to implement workplace wellness programs, resulting in employers’ number one health care concern — cutting excess costs. While the PPACA does its part to increase access to health care, many employers are wondering whether some of the reform elements might increase their overall cost burden.  To combat this possibility (and because employer health costs are unsustainable regardless), we expect to see more focus on responsible cost sharing with employees.

Fundamentally changing the way health care is financed by linking cost to behavior is the most effective and accountable way to re-shape the paradigm of ever eroding employee health and increasing costs. The financial side of health has never been more of a focal point.  It’s clear the conversation is far from over.

Schwan provides RedBrick Health’s innovative tools and personalized support to their 17,000 employees

RedBrick Health is thrilled to announce the addition of The Schwan Food Company to its family of clients:

The Schwan Food Company Teams Up with RedBrick Health to Enhance Culture of Health

Rick Kupchella on the Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota

Over the Memorial Day weekend, The Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota kicked-off a weight loss competition among Minnesota’s largest employers – The Biggest Loser Summer Challenge. RedBrick Health developed and is hosting the social networking platform for the challenge. We’re pleased to welcome Rick Kupchella, founding partner of The Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota, for additional perspective.

Rick Kupchella We’ve been working for a year on the development and creation of what’s become the Alliance for a Healthier Minnesota.

The first major Minnesota corporations came to the table to form the group shortly after the first of the year.

The Alliance is a collection of some of the largest, best-known companies in the state, including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, Capella University, Cargill, General Mills, HealthPartners, Medtronic, Target, UnitedHealth Group and a division of the State Health Department as well, known as the Statewide Health Improvement Program. Collectively this group employs about 150-thousand Minnesotans & more than 800,000 globally.

These companies are competitors by nature, in their own fields of business, but they’re working together in this Alliance because they understand that the business of improved health & wellness among their own employees is in everybody’s interest. Ultimately, they’re working to improve health & wellness – not just between & among companies…but throughout the state of Minnesota.

Among the first things we’re doing together as a group – is hosting an in-house online health & wellness competition we call the “Biggest Loser Summer Challenge.” We’re pitting one giant corporation against the other.

At i.e. network – founders of the Alliance – we looked all over the country at some of the best online platforms available. We investigated building a competition engine of our own. But in the end, we settled on a partnership with RedBrick Health – to build a customized online competition for the Alliance. Health is personal and financial; it’s now getting very social. The RedBrick Health tool creates a community for employees to interact with and push and support each other to truly engage in their health.

We worked together – in record time (about ten weeks) to produce a program that would work among such a diverse collection of companies. We integrated the competition into a new design/build of our own site at www.mnalliance.org.

The goals set at the outset were ambitious. The bar – high. But these guys came in on time & on budget. It’s stunning really that we were able to get through the contracting, the building, the approvals, not to mention more than a few “changes of scope.”

It’s early – but the relationship has been a very good one. We’ve appreciated the way Red Brick Health has worked with us juggling not just the relationship they’ve had to manage with us as the primary client – but the consideration of our clients’ input as well.

I can’t even believe we got a joint “Terms of Service” contract agreed to by everybody in that time frame.

We’ve hit our target on participation rate among the collective group. And as of this writing…the competition has been up & running for a few days. There are about 90 days left. Be sure to check out The Biggest Loser Summer Challenge leaderboard throughout the summer. It’s going to be an exciting competition.

– Rick

Welcome to the Health Innovation Blog

It’s impossible to predict all the change that will follow health care reform becoming law in March. However, one crucial fact remains true: more than 160 million Americans will continue to get health care through their employers. For those companies, meaningful change in the health care can’t come soon enough.

We at RedBrick Health have dedicated ourselves to helping make that change happen. Because more than half the cost of health care is directly related to behavior, we help companies control costs by getting people more interested, involved and invested in their health. It’s the key to sustained healthy behavior.

For those of you that don’t already know, we are a health technology and services company focused on helping people be healthy. We blend a fresh, personalized consumer experience, impactful social networking tools and rewards that link individual financing to behavior to make getting healthy easier and more rewarding. One part relentless innovation, one part deep consumer insight – that’s our recipe for meaningful and continuous consumer engagement.

We are starting this blog to keep people abreast of innovations that advance personal and population health. We will discuss new approaches to old problems for getting and keeping people healthy and productive. We’ll focus on what’s working and why. We plan to highlight research and real-world examples, touch on behavioral economics and address incentives that work, and those that don’t.

We’ll tackle new ways to deliver health coaching and the emergence of healthy social competitions and health-oriented social networking. Curious about the difference between a “healthy culture” and a “culture of health,” we’ll take it on. All along the way, we’ll follow our clients and others that are moving beyond “broken” models to achieve sustained engagement and enjoying the results that come with it.

Welcome to the Health Innovation Blog.

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