Genevieve Douglas | Bloomberg BNA Human Resources Report

Employee wellness programs don’t have to be complex to be effective, and they are proven to help the company bottom line, according to a new report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“I think that the business case for wellness programs has been settled. If you look back five years ago there was an argument about whether there was a [return on investment] for these endeavors. Now the studies overwhelmingly show that if the program is done right, you will see a return on your bottom line,” Randy Johnson, senior vice president of labor, immigration and employee benefits for the chamber, told Bloomberg BNA April 11. However, much conjecture and misunderstanding continue over how well-designed workplace wellness programs operate, he said.

According to the report, released April 7, five lifestyle behaviors (physical inactivity, poor nutrition, smoking, alcohol use and non-adherence to medications) and five chronic medical conditions (diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, mental illness and cancer) drive 75 percent of all deaths worldwide. “Even though people usually know what they should do to improve their health, this is easier said than done,” the report said. “Embedding behavior change theories, processes, and techniques into wellness programs and interventions to reach people in ‘all stages of change’ is critical to engaging individuals.”

Today’s reality is that health is a performance driver—for employers and employees, the report said. Employers will reap rewards from programs that engage employees, offer multiple strategies that suit the unique needs of employee populations, and measure the programs’ successes or failures, the report said.

An Expanded Wellness Strategy

The chamber report provides a great baseline to start the discussion around wellness, but employers with resources should expand their wellness programs to make them even more effective, Rachel Levine, director of wellness strategies for Health Advocate, told Bloomberg BNA April 12.

For example, chronic care management is often a forgotten piece of a wellness strategy, but it should be part of an integrated wellness approach, Levine said. Employers should look at claims data to identify gaps in care for chronic care management, because this identifies the employer’s health risk as an organization and helps employees manage their individual health, she said.

“It’s also important to note that wellness is not one size fits all,” Levine, who was not involved with the chamber report, said. Companies have different types of employee populations and cultures, and they need a wellness strategy that best supports these unique goals.

Wellness programs should be flexible and diverse, especially when it comes to communicating with employees about participating in the program, whether it’s via telephone or online, Levine said.

Reproduced with permission from Human Resources Report, 34 HRR 405 (Apr. 18, 2016). Copyright 2016 by The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. (800-372-1033)


We have all heard the numbers. Medication nonadherence can cost the healthcare industry billions of dollars ($337 billion in 2013 to be exact, according to Express Scripts). The pharmaceutical industry also loses—$188 billion annually, according to a 2012 Capgemini report. And often the patient loses. Studies have shown that poor adherence:

  • Results in 33% to 69% of medication-related hospital admissions (New Engl. J. Med., 2005). •
  • Leads to a 17% increase in emergency room visits and a 10% rise in hospital stays among patients with diabetes, asthma, or gastric acid disorder (of the Amer. Med. Ass’n, 2004).
  • Causes at least 125,000 deaths a year in the U.S. (Gen Med., 2005).

In other words, when patients don’t take their meds properly, everyone loses. That’s why so many are working to discover ways to help improve adherence. These 12 solutions, from people associated with the healthcare industry as well as outside tech companies, are just some of the new methods available to solve one of healthcare’s biggest problems.

Specialized Product Support Health Advocate, a subsidiary of West Corporation

To help healthcare organizations improve adherence, Health Advocate’s Specialized Product Support (SPS) program combines years of customer service experience with proven communications strategies. This program supports and educates patients through a variety of channels, helping to increase adherence, improve health outcomes, and reduce costs. Program offerings include outreach therapy compliance, technical product support, DTC support, loyalty programs, care coordination, clinical education, regulatory compliance, telenursing, and more.

The patient experience is central to the SPS program, which personalizes outreach according to the patient’s preferences, clinical profile, and risk factors. By combining state-of-the-art technology, actionable information from data analytics, and unlimited support from a Personal Health Advocate, patients have access to valuable resources to address potential barriers. Data show that the personal touch of a live agent improves both patient engagement and adherence.

Health Advocate’s SPS program identifies the appropriate dedicated associates, from customer care to RN clinical support, for each program, and connects patients with a Personal Health Advocate to help with related health issues and navigate the complex healthcare system. This extra level of ongoing support enables patients to address and resolve potential challenges to adherence, including clinical questions, technical support, and insurance concerns. Additionally, the SPS program is flexible and can be customized to meet the needs of each organization, product, and patient population.

During one recent campaign, only 4.25% of patients in a control group with no contact from the SPS program filled their prescriptions. However, among patients who had interacted with clinical care associates, 19.12% of patients filled their prescriptions—a 450% increase over the control group. The SPS program has also earned a CSAT Customer Satisfaction rate of 97%.

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Agreement combines accessible clinical expertise with best-in-class support, improving health outcomes while avoiding expense of travel

Plymouth Meeting, PA, April 13, 2016 — Health Advocate, the nation’s leading healthcare advocacy and assistance company and a subsidiary of West Corporation, today announced a new agreement with Cleveland Clinic, rated one of the nation’s top five hospitals by U.S. News and World Report, to offer access to electronic second opinions from the country’s leading specialists. Cleveland Clinic’s MyConsult® Online Medical Second Opinion program will enhance Health Advocate’s Second Opinion Program by providing members the opportunity to have Cleveland Clinic’s world-renowned experts review their diagnoses and treatment plans.

“When employees are facing a complex or serious medical diagnosis, a second opinion can provide information they need to make important decisions about their health, as well as peace of mind,” said Abbie Leibowitz, Co-President and Chief Medical Officer, Health Advocate. “We are proud to collaborate with Cleveland Clinic to bring this valuable service to our members and contribute to improved outcomes. By combining Heath Advocate’s personalized support with MyConsult, we can ensure our members have access to the resources they need, when they need them most.”

When an employee accesses the MyConsult service, a Cleveland Clinic specialist will review their medical records and prepare a personalized, comprehensive second opinion report, taking care to answer the patient’s submitted questions. Second opinions are available for over 1,200 medical and surgical conditions in nearly every specialty. By offering employees access to second opinions from the country’s leading medical centers without having to travel to the facility, this program can improve outcomes while reducing costs.

“Cleveland Clinic is pleased to offer the MyConsult service through Health Advocate,” says Jonathan Schaffer, MD, MBA, Managing Director, Cleveland Clinic Distance Health. “It makes sense to get a second opinion when you face a medical condition that is life-changing or even life-threatening. The MyConsult program removes the geographic barriers to care and enables patients across the country to access Cleveland Clinic expertise. When your health—and perhaps even your life—is at stake, we want to make sure you are making the most informed healthcare decisions.”

MyConsult is available to Health Advocate clients as an enhancement to the Second Opinion Program. Health Advocate’s experienced clinical team of Personal Health Advocates, registered 2 nurses, and medical directors will provide confidential support to members seeking second opinions and coordinate the collection and submission of medical records for MyConsult review, making the program easy for employees to use.

About Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first near-total face transplant in the United States. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s top five hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. More than 3,000 full-time salaried physicians and researchers and 11,000 nurses represent 120 medical specialties and subspecialties. The Cleveland Clinic health system includes a main campus near downtown Cleveland, eight community hospitals, more than 90 northern Ohio outpatient locations, including 18 full-service family health centers, Cleveland Clinic Florida, the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas, Cleveland Clinic Canada, and Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. In 2014, there were 5.9 million outpatient visits throughout the Cleveland Clinic health system and 152,500 hospital admissions. Patients came for treatment from every state and 147 countries. Visit us at Follow us at

About Health Advocate

Health Advocate, a subsidiary of West Corporation, is the nation’s leading healthcare advocacy and assistance company, serving more than 11,000 clients, including many of the nation’s largest companies. Health Advocate’s award-winning Health Advocacy program helps members navigate complex healthcare and insurance-related issues, saving them both time and money. We also offer a suite of complementing solutions, including Wellness Coaching, EAP+Work/Life and Chronic Care Solutions, among others. Our fully integrated program, EmpoweredHealth, seamlessly combines our services into a single, convenient member-centric solution, helping individuals efficiently maximize their benefits and improve their health. We also leverage the power of pricing transparency, personalized health communications and more to help members make more informed decisions and get more value out of the healthcare system. All supported by our powerful proprietary data analytics engine delivering improved health and financial results. For more information, visit us at