Dover Corp. doesn't mess around with wellness. When leaders at the manufacturing company decided a few years ago to implement a common wellness program across each of its operating companies - more than 30 companies spread across almost 100 U.S. locations - they had their work cut out for them.

"In late 2010, early 2011, we brought together for the first time our diverse operating companies under one benefit plan," explains Amy Katzoff, director, health and welfare benefits, Dover Corp. "Before that, it was decentralized. We've really tried to go from zero to 60 in a short period of time."

The goal was to "leverage the size and scale of Dover to both improve costs and deliver a better quality of services and programs to our employees and operating companies," says Katzoff. "We hadn't really leveraged the power of that scale prior to 2011."

In late 2009, the company convened a task force of HR vice presidents and CFOs from a number of different operating companies that looked at what the various companies already had in place in terms of wellness programming, and to develop guiding principles. The task force developed a request-for-proposal structure and went to market to "look at what we would view as best-in-class suppliers to service the program across the country," says Katzoff.

After choosing StayWell, the program launched in 2011 with online health assessments, online health screenings, lifestyle coaching, disease and condition management coaching, and a 24-hour nurse line and health advocacy service to help employees navigate the health care system.

"The goal was to create a common baseline of services across all of the companies and then create it flexibly enough that companies that were ahead could continue to do things locally and take advantage of where they were at and also help mentor and provide some best-in-class examples to other operating companies that were still building their programs," says Katzoff.

 

 

Holding out for a HERO

At the heart of the program is a comprehensive measurement system. "A lot of companies just jump into wellness and don't think about the ROI or the metrics," says Katzoff. "I think what's made our program successful and allowed us to adapt is a very structured process with our suppliers in terms of reporting and dashboards by operating companies and location, and that allows us to see what's working, what the most effective strategies are and where we need to adapt some strategies."

In addition to their own internal metrics that tracked employee participation in the various programs, Katzoff and her team used a scorecard developed by the Health Enhancement Research Organization. It's a free online survey designed to help organizations learn about best practices in employee health management, and it also offers an assessment of how an employer's program stacks up against others in HERO's national scorecard database.

In year one, Dover used the HERO scorecard to measure where each operating company was on its wellness journey. In year two, the company was able to see how scores had improved after a full year of formal wellness programs.

"I think in wellness people often take a leap of faith - it sounds right, so we're going to do it - but they don't always measure the results," says Katzoff. "The [HERO] scorecard was one way to measure and assess leading indicators that were likely to drive change. In year two, with a national [average] score of 92, our score was 101."

The robust measurement system has allowed Dover Corp. to react quickly to employee needs and tweak their wellness programs when necessary. For example, in the program's second year, one of Dover's goals was to drive employees to their primary care physicians for biometric screening, as opposed to conducting so many screenings onsite. But the company quickly learned - thanks to the measurement tools it had in place - that the strategy wasn't working as well as it had hoped.

"It wasn't as successful as participation in year one because we have a large, hourly manufacturing base, and what we found is that the onsite screenings are really going to be a foundational base for them," says Katzoff. The company was able to move swiftly and reintroduce additional onsite biometric screenings that same plan year.

"It's really using the data, not just from a typical retrospective utilization analysis that a lot of companies do, but trying to use participation data and dissect it by company, by location, by employee, by spouse, so we can use leading indicators on how employees are reacting to these programs and adapt to really drive participation or tweak something," Katzoff says. "We're not going to wait another year until we can see results."

In the first year of the wellness program, Dover achieved a 42% participation rate in the health assessments and health screenings, with a nominal incentive of a $100 gift card. "Early indications are, since we put this plan in place, that our claims costs for both 2011 and 2012 are coming in below industry trend," says Katzoff.

In year two, participation in the health coaching component jumped to 42% of eligible employees, a 25% increase over year one participation. In 2012, the company added a dedicated primary nurse program that works with the sickest patients to help them understand what to expect when they get home from the hospital, how to take their medications, what follow-up questions to ask their physicians and how and when to book follow-up appointments and any other therapies. Katzoff believes that service, coupled with the increase in health coaching participation, "really helped us see a reduction in hospital admissions and large claims in 2012."

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