Lexington, Kentucky is home to one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the United States. With approximately 1,000 students, it’s committed to “cultivating a campus environment of mutual respect and impassioned conviction and developing leaders who will succeed in a diverse and connected world.” One important element in achieving this goal is to ensure that its faculty and staff are happy, healthy, and productive employees.

They took on the task of discovering how the University could best support their workforce, helping employees be the healthiest, happiest versions of themselves. After taking a close look at the University’s health care data, they discovered that many health plan members were living with, or were at risk for, diabetes, high blood pressure, and/or high cholesterol. In addition, they hoped to stem the rising tide of chronic disease and ease the associated toll on health care costs.

University leaders knew they were in a position to do more to support employees’ well-being. As a result, they implemented SentryHealth’s chronic disease management and health coaching programs.

Discover what the University’s Human Resources Director had to say about the programs.

What drew you to SentryHealth’s health and wellness programs?

It’s a rule of thumb that 50% of health care costs are attributable to 5% of your population, and that 80% of costs are from 20% of your population. That’s true almost to the penny for us. In 2008, we started looking at the results of the disease management program provided by our insurer, evaluating engagement and the support provided. There was limited engagement and we were disappointed with the service level. It wasn’t addressing our highest cost claimants.

When you start looking at ways to cut plan costs, too often employers are focused on things like increasing deductibles, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket maximums. The problem is, you’re not really saving — you’re just shifting costs to employees. We were also reading numerous articles indicating that 70% of all health care dollars are spent on preventable conditions. If we could just reduce that by 10%, that could save $150,000. Plus, it will have a positive impact on quality of life. That’s when we decided to reach out to SentryHealth for help.

How many of your employees participate?

We have 464 people on our health plan and about 138 of them are eligible for the chronic disease management program. Among those, we have 50% engagement. Of the high-risk population, 42% are enrolled in the appropriate programs. There were a lot of questions around privacy — why do we (at the University) want the data? I repeatedly explained that we don’t see any individual’s data. We only see aggregated reports.

Does the premium discount for participation help?

The discount works, no question. And not only do our people get a premium discount, but those who participate in the chronic disease management programs have zero copay on related prescriptions. On an annual basis, in aggregate, it costs the University about $6,000 to cover the copay costs. But, if you are a lower wage earner, it means a considerable savings to you.

How do you calculate return on investment (ROI) with SentryHealth?

Can I prove a 3-for-1 return? I feel comfortable we’re getting that, but it’s hard to prove. We are also looking at VOI, value of impact — people are sick less often and are more productive. But, we don’t make widgets here and we haven’t tracked the reduction in sick leave, so it’s hard to quantify.

What is the financial basis for engaging a third party for your health and wellness program?

Right now, about 10% of every net tuition dollar is going to fund our employees’ health coverage. We care about the rising cost of tuition and we want to be able to provide an affordable education for our students. So, we are doing all we can to make proactive, cost-effective investments in our employees’ health.

SentryHealth: The Future of Workplace Wellness

At SentryHealth, we’re redefining workplace wellness. Our programs are custom designed to meet the unique needs of our employers and their employees. Through a combination of advanced analytics, high touch outreach and education, and meaningful wellness programs supported by personalized coaching, we drive meaningful results for both employers and their employees. Our approach is unique and effective, ensuring positive patient outcomes.

We combine advanced analytics, a NCQA-certified Health Risk Assessment, and a financial assessment to build a complete employee profile to truly understand risk and needs.

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