Since 1894, Hillerich & Bradsby (H&B) has manufactured and sold more than 100 million Louisville Slugger baseball bats, making it the most popular bat brand in history. However, it isn’t just supporting millions of baseball players, it also supports the men and women who make up the H&B workforce.

In 2011, H&B began to look into ways it could help employees be healthier and more productive through the management of chronic conditions  as well as acute nuisances like upper respiratory infections. “Like everyone, we’re trying to manage health care costs,” said Rick Poff, Director of Human Resources at H&B. “We’re self-insured and any money saved on claims is money saved for the company and our employees.” As a result, H&B took a holistic approach to health and well-being. It converted a small break room into an employee health center, knowing that by optimizing health care delivery and eliminating waste, it would realize cost savings through lower health care costs, solid productivity, and a happier, healthier workforce. Poff tells us how the SentryHealth population health management solutions worked.

What support does your SentryHealth employee health center and nurse practitioner provide?

We have the chronic condition and health care coaching programs to help people with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other kinds of disease management. Also, if someone has an acute need such as an upper respiratory problem or wants help with tobacco cessation, they can speak with the nurse practitioner at the employee health clinic. She is here on Mondays and Thursdays from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm and everyone has access to the clinic.

In terms of saving lives and/or money, has SentryHealth’s employee health center scored any home runs?

We look at savings almost monthly. But it’s not just about the money. We had an employee and his spouse come in to the clinic. The nurse practitioner did blood work and his cholesterol was 408 — he was a heart attack waiting to happen. She said, “You need to leave here and go to the hospital. I will call ahead.” How do you put a value on that? We probably prevented a heart attack from happening. Not only did we save $25,000 or $50,000, but we may have saved someone’s life.

We also had other borderline diabetics that had not been diagnosed. In terms of diabetes, we will buy the supplies for you, which encourages you to use them. The alternative might be, “I can’t afford that $200 and I’m not going to take the drugs,” so they go into a diabetic coma. That is costly ($25,000 or $30,000). But again, we may be avoiding critical events and saving people’s lives. That’s most important to us.

I would also say we’ve got a big savings in tobacco usage. But, it’s hard to prove you’ve prevented lung cancer.

Any other benefits from SentryHealth?

When you go through the list of employee benefits with a job candidate, they have heard it all before. But then, when you talk to them about SentryHealth’s employee health center, you kind of wake them back up. We tell them, “If you’re stuffed up, you can go visit the nurse practitioner. She can diagnose and prescribe drugs for you.” That has at least two advantages for that employee. First, they can come to work and get diagnosed, whereas the alternative is to take the day off, sit in the doctor’s office, and pay a copay. Second, if the medication is on the list of (available) drugs, it will be delivered to their desk by noon and there’s no charge for the employee. So not only are they not taking time off work and having to pay a copay, they’re not standing in line at Walgreens with other sick people.

How do you identify who might benefit from SentryHealth’s employee health center services and how do you encourage participation?

SentryHealth might look and see what an employee’s prescription use was, and if he or she is being treated for COPD, it’ll send a letter out saying, “Come visit the clinic.” If they get drugs at the employee health center, they don’t have to pay a copay. The only requirements are monthly or quarterly meetings with the nurse practitioner where depending on what program they’re in, she will talk to them about medications and other lifestyle tips. There are a lot of personal touches. The nurse practitioner will go down and say, “Brandon, you haven’t been up this month.” Whether it’s a phone call, visit, letter, or email, the more touches you have, the more participation.

What are some of the common conditions that SentryHealth helps your staff with?

Hypertension (high blood pressure) was the really big one initially. SentryHealth sends out quarterly summary reports about the number of people who have high blood pressure and how they’re doing. Most of it now is being well managed through medication. The copay incentive helped quite a bit. Even if a prescription only costs $50 a month, if you have an hourly employee working for $12, $50 is a big deal. To not have to pay…that makes a real difference in terms of patient adherence.

Any lessons about incentives or rewards for participation in SentryHealth programming?

We learned that some things work and some don’t, so we tweaked the benefits along the way. We used to supply Chantix, nicotine patches, lozenges, and gum for tobacco cessation. We found people would come in and get it because it’s free, but we’d see them smoke. We ended up spending crazy amounts of money. So we stopped supplying that. They can still get the tobacco cessation products through their local pharmacy, however, we don’t provide them through our clinic any longer.

Any words of advice for another company that’s going to add SentryHealth?

It’s too easy as a company to set expectations too high. We went into it thinking employees would jump on board and think it was great, but it took a little bit of time. Don’t expect that you’ll have 100% participation from the start.

You’ve got to have the right personality for your nurse practitioner. We’ve all been to the ER where it’s all “matter of fact.” That type of approach doesn’t fly here. They need to have a great bedside manner, be friendly, and be able to joke around with people.

The SentryHealth Difference

Our population health management solutions engage populations in a meaningful way by combining the power of data analytics, education, and evidence-based medicine. Because we provide effective assistance and support to individuals living with chronic conditions or those trending towards a condition, we see higher levels of engagement and participation. This means that our clients realize a measurable return on investment through improved clinical and financial outcomes. Contact us today to learn more.