A new wellness mindset is brewing at the Palmyra, Wisc. headquarters of Standard Process, a whole food supplements distributor established in 1929. The health organization is planning to open its doors to employers across the country that are looking to incorporate organic strategies to improve the health of employees by including the services of an onsite chiropractor. 

Cultivate by Standard Process is a new wellness program that is turning heads for benefit decision makers analyzing corporate wellness options. Company president Jerry Curtin is hoping the long-attached stigma of the chiropractor practice – an alternative medicine option that seeks to crack your bones for pain relief and other issues – is expected to change

“If you start with chiropractic, the difference between chiropractic and a normal doctor, people go see a chiropractor when they are not sick, they go see a chiropractor when they are not feeling right,” says Curtin.

Actual application

The Primex Family of Companies, based in Lake Geneva, Wisc., is one of the first companies to bring Cultivate into its offices. With nearly 200 employees – which overlap three business functions that include Primex Wireless, Chaney Instrument Company and Klockit – the company was looking to carry its employees’ “benefits to the next level” with Cultivate, says company CEO Paul Shekoski.

“We saw how those results [at Standard Process] were integrated in not only the obvious costs of what it’s going to save for health insurance but the true health of the employees,” Shekoski explains. “They were concerned about the health and understood that the healthy employee is what mattered in the end.”

Following conversations with his own chiropractor and a Primex third-party consultant roughly two years earlier, Primex Family of Companies is currently implementing the Cultivate program at its offices, says Shekoski.

“Certainly we would like our costs to drop to zero, but that’s not practical,” Shekoski says. “But what we would really like to see our spend shift over the next 12 to 24 to 36 months away from so-called lifestyle issues.”

According to Shekoski, the company is planning to leverage Cultivate as Standard Process has, which is to change the culture of awareness and health at its Wisconsin-based headquarters.

“We’re putting our focus on health care, not health insurance,” Shekoski says.

Curtin explains that shifting employees’ perceptions of chiropractic care is key. The onsite chiropractic professional’s constant engagement may also be helpful.

“We start with chiropractic, and we teach people about the bones, the muscles and the outside of the body, making sure that you are aligned properly because we feel work is a sport so let’s get in shape for our sport,” he says. 

Cultivate spawned out of a walking program that was created a decade earlier. Following tweaks to improve wellness participation and engagement, as well as modifications to program goals, Curtin explains that it has led to the four pillars of its of its program: chiropractic, nutrition education and physical fitness.

Because Standard Process’ supplements are not available in conventional drug stores, Curtin explains that Standard Process has been cultivating relationships with chiropractors and other medical professionals. Medical practitioners’ use of its products has led to – in some ways – the creation of Cultivate.

“We’ve had 85 years of being very close to this profession from a customer standpoint,” says Curtin. “We’ve seen their results from their offices, and seen their results with our products, and have just been aligned naturally with chiropractors based on their holistic approach to care.”

The study of chiropractic has also been marred by public’s perception, where most correlate the practice to physical intervention. However, data available through the American Chiropractic Association finds that chiropractic care can be an effective outlet to treat acute and chronic conditions, and lower overall health care costs. One study of 85,000 Blue Cross Blue Shield  beneficiaries in Tennessee found that low back pain treatment, when treated by a chiropractic doctor saves 40% on health care costs when compared to medical doctor intervention.  This equates to an annual cost savings of $2.3 million, according to researchers.

“We chose the chiropractor because first and foremost they help us monitor the employee body,” says Curtin. “But today’s chiropractor is a lot more expansive than the traditional perceptions of just cracking backs and cracking necks. Our chiropractors are also certified in nutrition.” 

The numbers

Over its 10-year span, Standard Process reduced its annual cost of health care claims by nearly 45% or $13,000 per employee. Specifically, short-term disability costs dropped by 24% as well as a 12% decrease for hospital, procedural and drug costs. Some employees even donned perfect attendance records, where Curtin says, Standard Process changed its tracking metric to measure “presenteeism” rather than absenteeism.

Also, in terms of lifestyle health items, healthy levels of cholesterol or HDL increased by 12% on average for employees while non-healthy cholesterol or LDL’s experienced an 11% drop over the decade.

“Most leaders want to solve for a couple of things, they want to reduce costs, they want to build employee engagement and they just want to do the right thing, So how we explain it to business leaders is it can be coached as a real culture change,” Curtin says. “It’s a common initiative at a very individual level and doesn’t have to do with your day-to-day job, so it’s a great bonding strategy. Also, if you don’t have people as one of your business strategy, perhaps you’re missing something.”

Curtin continues: “we don’t believe a business is healthy until its employees are.”

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