OhioHealth is a hospital system in central Ohio with about 12,000 employees. When Lisa Meddock joined the organization in 2004, she was surprised to find OhioHealth didn't have a coordinated wellness program. While there were a few wellness initiatives in various locations, efforts weren't coordinated and employee participation was low.

Meddock, OhioHealth's manager of benefits administration, integrated all of OhioHealth's wellness initiatives into one program, branding the new program OhioHealthy, in 2006. The following year, she consolidated OhioHealth's three health plans into one. Meddock's accomplishments in these initiatives has earned her EBN's 2011 Benny Award for Benefits Leadership in Health Care.

When she launched the coordinated wellness program in 2006, Meddock had little data to go on. She knew many employers struggled with costs associated with smoking, physical inactivity, weight and stress. She figured her employees were the same, so she structured OhioHealthy around those four pillars.

Meddock and her team launched a series of onsite weight control programs, Weight Watchers at Work, at OhioHealth facilities. Employees who complete all 10 weight control classes are reimbursed by the company for the cost of the program. Since rolling out the benefit in 2006, participating employees have lost a total of 30,000 pounds.

To combat smoking, OhioHealth provided free counseling for smokers, partnered with a quit line that offers moral support, and reimbursed employees for the full cost of the nicotine patch and all other prescription nicotine replacement therapies.

Under Meddock's leadership, OhioHealth launched the Virgin HealthMiles employee health and productivity program, which offers employees up to $500 a year in incentives for increased levels of physical activity. Employees who register with the program receive a pedometer and earn financial incentives for reaching physical activity goals. There are 13 kiosks located throughout OhioHealth's hospitals where employees can download their steps, have their blood pressure measured and body mass index calculated. The program also provides Meddock and the benefits team with valid data on which it can build more wellness programming. The program has proven to be OhioHealth's most popular wellness benefit, with 63% of employees participating.

"She really cares about the overall wellness of her workforce," says Dustin Armitage, account manager with Virgin HealthMiles. "She's on the ground, she's in the trenches, and is a strong proponent of the program. She walks the talk."

Meddock describes her wellness philosophy as simply "to improve the health of those who serve."

"When you walk into our hospitals, we want you to be greeted with healthy, motivated associates who care for you," she says. "So we want to improve the health of the community, but we want to improve the health of our associates first. That is our goal."

After laying the groundwork with the coordinated wellness program, OhioHealthy, Meddock decided it made sense to consolidate all three of OhioHealth's medical benefits plans into one consumer-driven health plan. Using the same branding as the wellness program, OhioHealth launched the OhioHealthy Medical Plan in 2008.

"We know this plan makes sense and aligns our incentives and goals to improve the health of those who serve, and it provides a cost-effective benefit for our company," says Meddock.

Still, launching a CDHP was not without challenges. "At first, they [employees] were not happy with us," recalls Meddock.

In opinion surveys, employee satisfaction with OhioHealth's benefits took a nosedive after the move to the CDHP. But Meddock's happy to report that satisfaction levels have gradually gone up and are almost right back where they were in 2007, just prior to the launch of the new plan. Moreover, OhioHealth has been able to hold its medical plan premium costs flat for the past four years while focusing on wellness and prevention.

In addition, because of Meddock's focus on preventive health, OhioHealth has steadily increased the number of preventive services it covers free of charge. For three consecutive years, OhioHealth has seen a double-digit increase in the use of these preventive services, which include dietician consultations (covered at 100%), exercise consultations (also covered at 100%) and traditional preventive health screenings such as mammography and colorectal exams.

Under Meddock's leadership, OhioHealth recently launched Pathways to Wellness, disease management programs that focus on employees with diabetes and asthma. Employees with these chronic conditions who work with a pharmacist can get their prescriptions paid for under OhioHealth's medical plan.

"Our associates are saving about $200 a month," says Meddock. "And we're seeing great savings for us, so it's win-win. That population has fewer emergency room visits and their absenteeism is less, so it's benefitted the company as well."

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