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Why “Mandatory” Wellness Programs are Problematic Under the Law

Posted By Melissa Matheson, Monday, November 12, 2018

Why “Mandatory” Wellness Programs are Problematic Under the Law

By Barbara J. Zabawa, JD, MPH
Center for Health and Wellness Law, LLC

The Worksite Wellness Council of Massachusetts recently polled its members for questions about employee wellness program compliance.  Most of the respondents had questions that involved offering incentives in “mandatory” wellness programs and what types of programs caused problems with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  These two lines of inquiry are actually related, and led me to conclude that there is still a lot of confusion out there about when and how to comply with the ADA.  This blog post aims to clear up that confusion.

When does the ADA Apply to Worksite Wellness Programs?
The ADA applies to wellness programs that ask employees for their health information, usually through a health risk assessment/questionnaire or through a biometric screen.  The ADA does not apply to wellness program activities that do not involve health information collection, such as walking challenges, nutrition programs, or health education classes.  The reason why the ADA is limited to programs involving employee health information collection has to do with the ADA’s general prohibition against asking employees “disability-related inquiries” or asking them to take a medical exam.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency that enforces compliance with the ADA, views health risk assessments (HRAs) as a “disability-related inquiry” and a biometric screen as a “medical exam.” 

Our Worksite Wellness Program Includes an HRA and a Biometric Screen.  Are those Allowed under the ADA?
Yes, they are allowed under the ADA, as long as they are part of a “voluntary” employee wellness program.  42 USC § 12112(d)(4)(B). 

What is a “Voluntary” Wellness Program under the ADA?
There is no definition of the word “voluntary,” but the EEOC in rules issued in May 2016 stated that employers could offer incentives for completing an HRA or biometric screen if the incentive value was no more than 30% of the cost of self-only coverage.  So, according to the EEOC, an incentive, whether monetary or in-kind (such as days off or a prize), could still make the HRA or biometric screen voluntary, as long as the value of that incentive did not exceed 30% of total cost of self-only coverage.  However, as of January 1, 2019, the EEOC must delete the 30% incentive limit from the rules because of a decision in the case entitled AARP v. EEOC.  As a result, after January 1, 2019, there will be no guidance as to what amount of incentive, if any, will meet the ADA’s “voluntary” requirement.

Will our Wellness Program be able to Incentivize HRAs or Biometric Screens after January 1, 2019?
It will depend on the incentive amount, whether there are any alternatives to earning the incentive and your employee population.  If your employee population consists of a lot of low-wage workers, a large incentive may give the perception that the HRA or biometric screen is “mandatory,” and not voluntary.  Also, if your employee population consists of a lot of workers who value their health information privacy, asking employees to divulge their health information in exchange for an incentive could make the HRA or biometric screen seem more coercive than voluntary.  So, it’s important to know your employee population.  Also, you may want to consider allowing employees another way to earn the incentive if they are uncomfortable with disclosing their health information through the HRA or biometric screen.  Some alternatives may be attending a class or participating in an exercise challenge.

But our HRAs and Biometric Screening Activities are Mandatory.  How Can We Comply with the ADA?
The fact that you label your HRAs and biometric screens as “mandatory” parts of your wellness program undercuts the voluntary nature that the ADA requires of your health information collection activities.  The ADA requires health information collection activities to be part of a “voluntary” wellness program.  If you state that your HRA or biometric screen is “mandatory,” that does not sound like a voluntary program.  Use of words like “mandatory” or “required” in relation to HRAs or biometric screens should be avoided.

Tags:  EEOC  employee benefits  employee engagement  employee incentives  wellness  wellness programs  workplace wellness  Worksite Wellness  Worksite Wellness Programs 

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The Power Of Great Leaders: The Chapman Effect

Posted By Melissa Matheson, Thursday, September 14, 2017

Why WellCert? A Letter From Philip Swayze, CWPD, HUB International

Since 2010 I have chaired the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) Leadership Awards program.  The people I’ve met through this process and my 19 years in the field of prevention and wellness have underscored for me the positive influence and meaningful impact that one person can have on the practice of health and well-being. 

There are so many amazing men and women in our field I could write about but today I want to focus on Dr. Larry Chapman – an individual that I’ve known and respected since 2004 when he was the CEO of Summex.   I first met Larry when his company was selected to offer services through a Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) wellness-infused health plan product.  I was a young(er) wellness communications strategist for BCBSRI, and we were creating this really amazing product that allowed participants to opt into one of several different wellness program options based on their risk profile, preferred communications medium and personal behavior change preferences.

Larry provided his years of wisdom and experience in the integration of his online programs into the HMPC product we were building.  Fast forward to 2017 and Larry is now offering his knowledge and expertise through the Chapman Institute’s WellCert® program.  Class participants receive full peer-reviewed articles Larry wrote for the wellness field in The Art of Health Promotion such as his Meta-Evaluation of Worksite Health Promotion Economic Return Studies (TAHP 2012).  Dr. Chapman’s WellCert® program offers four levels of curriculum that he’s carefully designed to provide a foundation of research-backed knowledge and offer a suite of tools to support the development and implementation of a successful worksite wellness program.

Over the past 3 years, I have reconnected with Larry and completed levels 1-3 of his WellCert program.  His field-tested methodologies have provided me with additional tools and strategies that have helped me grow my career and continue my success in the field of health and well-being.  I encourage anyone seeking to improve their knowledge and skills as a worksite wellness consultant to go through one or more of his certification courses. The WWCMA is hosting WellCert level 1 October 9 and 10 and level 2 on October 11 and 12 in Watertown, MA.  Sign up today for a chance to study under Larry and give your career in wellness a boost!

Like Michael Samuelson, Dee Edington and Vic Strecher, Larry Chapman is one of the many influential people from the state of Michigan who has had and continues to have a lasting impact on the field of health and wellbeing.  Thank you, Larry!


Philip Swayze, MS, Certified Wellness Program Director

Hub International, New England

Tags:  BCBSRI  HUB International  Larry Chapman  Philip Swayze  The Chapman Institute  WellCert Certification  Wellness  Wellness Certifications  Wellness Programs  Worksite Wellness 

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Building A Career In Worksite Wellness: Panel Event Recap

Posted By Melissa Matheson, Wednesday, April 26, 2017


An evening full of insight and inspiration, the panel held by the Worksite Wellness Council of MA and the Massachusetts Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics had a clear theme: networking is everything.  Panelists included Valerie Machinist, MS, RD, LDN, Deborah (“Deb”) Gorhan, MS, MCHES, Philip Swayze, MS, CWPD, and Catherine (“Cathy”) Theodore, RN, BS, CWPC. Each panelist spent some time talking about what they do in their current role and the path they took to get there. Though the panelists all work in different areas of worksite wellness, they shared a similar message about persistence, passion, and getting involved.

“Follow your heart, follow your dreams.”  Catherine (“Cathy”) Theodore, Regional Director of Health Strategies for UnitedHealthcare of New England, shared these words of wisdom with the group. Cathy first entered the health and wellness field as an oncology nurse, knowing from a young age that she wanted to pursue a career helping others. She credits her success to have a passion for wellness, keeping an open mind, and never closing a door on any opportunity. Cathy also told the attendees to believe in themselves, encouraging them to apply for jobs even if they don’t feel they meet the qualifications. She emphasized making a connection with those in charge of hiring to separate yourself from other candidates.

Deb Gorhan, Wellness & Health Promotion Manager for Johnson & Johnson – Americas, says, “Don’t let other people tell you that you can’t do something.” When she first started at J&J, Deb had a vision for the job she ultimately wanted and took it upon herself to write out a description for the role.  Over two years, that exact role finally became her job. She feels that both culture and environment are key to building a successful worksite wellness program. Leaders should represent wellness, and the built environment should be constructed to encourage healthy habits such as walking and taking the stairs. Deb’s career advice is to, “go for it,” and to stay connected with people and groups in the industry to ensure success.  

As the sole Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) on the panel, Valerie Machinist spoke to the role of an RDN in worksite wellness and noted that opportunities for RDNs are growing in the field. Valerie is currently the Product Director for Optum’s On-Site RDN Services and the President of the Massachusetts Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, previously working as a health educator and a consultant. Her path to her role at Optum began with a realization that she did not want a career in clinical dietetics, but rather a career where she could help others make the changes to stay out of the hospital in the first place. Valerie said that the importance of volunteering and being connected cannot be understated, and to “never burn bridges.” She also encouraged attendees not to feel “boxed in” by job descriptions, referencing a previous experience in which she crafted a new program assessing environmental factors and breast cancer risk. Finally, Valerie urged current and hopeful wellness professionals to do everything possible to meet people and learn.

A “meandering path” is how Philip Swayze, Director of Health and Performance for HUB International New England, describes his eventual entry into the world of worksite wellness. He credits that path for making him a better consultant and encouraged attendees to parlay their skills and interests into jobs as he did. Like Deb Gorhan, Philip also once created a new role for himself based on both his strengths and the needs of the company. He says, “it’s about being open to suggesting ideas and solving problems,” and encouraged attendees to not be afraid to speak up and raise their hand. Another recommendation was to volunteer to get access to more opportunities. Philip credited his personal and professional connections as being directly responsible for helping him secure at least three jobs in his career.

The panel, though made up of professionals from varied backgrounds, clearly had a consistent theme of networking for success. Each participant credited networking and volunteering as being integral to their success and noted their continued involvement in volunteer roles. Success in the world of worksite wellness, it seems, is about having a passion for the subject, the persistence to pursue your goals, and the personal connections to foster opportunities.

Tags:  wellness  wellness careers  wellness consultant  wellness coordinator  wellness director  wellness program manager  wellness programs  Worksite Wellness  worksite wellness programs 

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Q&A with 2016 Bronze Level WorkWell MA Award Winner, Alkermes

Posted By Melissa Matheson, Wednesday, November 23, 2016


2016 WorkWell MA Bronze Award Winner, Alkermes
Interview with Shannon Smith

Tell us about your yourself and your organization. 
Alkermes is a leader in innovative medicines that address the unmet needs and challenges of people living with debilitating diseases. As a fully integrated global biopharmaceutical company, Alkermes applies our scientific expertise, proprietary technologies and global resources to develop products that are designed to make a meaningful difference in the way patients manage their disease.

Congratulations on being a WWCMA WorkWell Massachusetts awardee. What does this mean for you/your team?
We are honored to be recognized for developing a program that reflects our company’s mission of improving health through innovation. Our organization depends on us to make the work/life experience as pleasant and easy as possible, and helping our employees improve their health is the greatest reward our team can hope to achieve. 

Why are wellness programs important for your organization?
The development of medicines for patients depends on the well-being of our employees. Our Wellness Incentive Plan is a motivator—it offers benefits for all employees to help them live happier and healthier lives. 

What wellness program(s) have you implemented? Any new initiatives planned?
Our Wellness Incentive Plan is our core wellness program, however, we provide opportunities for nutrition, stress reduction and fitness as often as we can. For example, we provide onsite yoga classes, “Mindfulness” programs, walking / running challenges and healthy eating opportunities at our dining facilities. We will continue to seek ways to streamline our program to meet the needs of employees and we’ll look for new and innovative methods to encourage healthy behaviors. 

What impact is/are they having on your organization and employees? 
Employees regard the Wellness Incentive Plan as an essential part of our benefits package. New hires are impressed with the Company’s commitment to health and wellness. We take great pride in the fact that we are encouraging a culture of happy and healthy employees who like to come to work.

Are there aspects of your wellness program that make it unique that you would like to share? 
One of the programs that we are most proud of is our TriAthlone Challenge.  There is a triathlon that is held each year in the town of Athlone, Ireland where our Irish manufacturing plant is located.  Each year, our U.S. employees compete for a chance to win a round trip ticket to Ireland to participate alongside their colleagues in Athlone.  Employees need to complete at least one triathlon in the U.S. in the calendar year. The more triathlons they participate in the more they increase their odds of winning.  It is a really great event that has steadily increased participation over the years.

Who are your wellness champions? (CEO, division leader, HR leader, an employee, etc) 
Executive Management Team, Human Resources, and our employees.

Any words of wisdom for organizations starting a new program? 
With an approach that rewards and doesn’t penalize, employees feel a partnership with HR and an appreciation for our commitment to their well-being. It’s a recruiting tool, and a retention tool, and it helps build loyalty and a sense of community among our workforce. 


Tags:  Alkermes  AwardsMassachusetts  Human Resources  Q&A  Wellness  wellness champions  wellness programs  Worksite Wellness  Worksite Wellness Programs  Workwell Massachusetts  workwell massachusetts awards  WWCMA 

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Q&A with 2016 Silver WorkWell MA Award Winner, Borislow Insurance

Posted By Melissa Matheson, Tuesday, November 15, 2016

2016 WorkWell MA Silver Award Winner, Borislow Insurance
Interview with Travis L. Horne

Tell us about yourself and your organization. 

Borislow Insurance:
Borislow Insurance is a leading employee benefits agency, serving clients in many states across a wide variety of industries. BI is centered not on traditional brokerage but on Strategic Advisory Partnerships with our clients. In this way, BI nurtures relationship with many clients that goes way beyond brokerage. At a time of great uncertainty and change in healthcare, the insurance industry and the economy, BI remains among the fastest growing and most respected agencies of its kind.

Travis L. Horne, MBA
Director of Health & Wellbeing
Travis has over twenty plus years of experience in the population healthy management industry.  As the Director of Health & Wellbeing he is responsible for the overall strategic vision, development and execution of employer’s culture of health and wellbeing to positively impact business goals and improve employee productivity.

Before joining Borislow Travis was the Director of Health & Productivity at Unum, Wellness Consultant for Blue Cross, Blue Shield of Massachusetts and a Health & Safety Advisor for the New Hampshire Local Government Center. 

Travis’s expertise includes identifying business solutions that will have the most financial and operational impact to clients.  Business solutions include actionable health & wellbeing and population health management programs, delivered through data analysis, vendor partnerships and client engagement.  

Congratulations on being a WWCMA WorkWell Massachusetts awardee. What does this mean for your team/you?

Borislow Insurance is proud to have been named a WorkWell Massachusetts Award Program winner for exemplary worksite health promotion. The award recognizes Borislow’s achievements developing, implementing, and participating in corporate health improvement and wellness programs. 

Borislow Insurance offers employees a personalized experience through our innovative approach, which cultivates a culture of health and wellbeing, drives behavior change and encompasses the whole person.  We engage employees through assessments and surveys, which provide guidance to develop our wellbeing roadmap.  Our approach to employee and business health is the unique component that makes Borislow Insurance one of the healthiest places to work.

The employees of Borislow Insurance feel it’s important to walk the walk and talk the talk, which is a key component to our continued success.  It’s a great honor to be named a 2016 WWCMA WorkWell Massachusetts winner.  

Why are wellness programs important for your organization?
Borislow Insurance feels that programs focused on employees needs holistically are necessary to develop and sustain a culture of health & wellbeing in an organization.  BI integrates wellness programming, wellbeing activities and culture enhancements in the work day to enrich the personal experience, which in return creates increased productivity and morale and a decrease in employee absenteeism.   All these factors in turn make BI one of the healthiest places to work.

What wellness program(s) have you implemented? Any new initiatives planned?
Borislow Insurance has implemented several wellbeing activities that are geared towards employee health & wellbeing and address our five core elements; physical, financial, workplace, community and mind-spirit wellbeing.  In 2017 BI will have enhanced the existing rewards platform with a new tool that will target employee’s health & wellbeing needs/wants and reward based on individual engagement.   

What impact is/are they having on your organization and employees? 

This is yet to be determined; the tool will not be in place until 1-1-2017.

Are there aspects of your wellness program that make it unique that you would like to share? 
The major aspect that we feel is unique in the industry is that we are focusing on employee’s holistic needs through benefits and not just a “wellness one-off” program.  Wellness one-off programs are fun, but benefits that focus on employees needs help to solve a problem or fill a gap.  A combination of wellness one-off’s and benefit offerings address all employees elements of health & wellbeing. 

Who are your wellness champions? 
Owners of Borislow Insurance
Senior Leadership
Employees of Borislow Insurance

Any words of wisdom for organizations starting a new program? 
- Walk, Jog, Run
- Focus on the culture and not just a wellness program
- Build a 3-year strategy that addresses all five elements of health & wellbeing
- Invest: An incentive structure is imperative for success 




Tags:  Borislow Insurance  Q&A  wellness programs  Worksite Wellness  Worksite Wellness Programs  Workwell Massachusetts  workwell massachusetts awards 

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Q&A with 2016 Bronze Level WorkWell MA Award Winner, Stutevant, Inc.

Posted By Melissa Matheson, Friday, November 4, 2016

2016 WorkWell MA Bronze Award Winner, Sturtevant, Inc.
Interview with Erin Barr 

Tell us about your yourself and your organization. 
Sturtevant is headquartered in Hanover, MA and has 33 employees. We are the leading family-owned manufacturer of material processing equipment including the patented Micronizer® jet mill which produces sub-micron sized particles, Powderizer® an air-swept impact mill with integral classifier, Simpactor® and Infestroyer, centrifugal, pin-type impact mills and three types of high performance air classifiers that separate fine and coarse particles with precision and accuracy.
Congratulations on being a WWCMA WorkWell Massachusetts awardee. What does this mean for team/you? 
Sturtevant is pleased to be recognized for our Wellness efforts.  Our Wellness Committee has worked diligently over the last 3 years to develop a plan that is relevant and fun to other employees. 

Why are wellness programs important for your organization?

Sturtevant’s Wellness Program is important as it has shifted our culture to a more healthy awareness.  We look to create a more productive environment by fostering a culture to include work/life balance and healthy choices. 

What wellness program(s) have you implemented? Any new initiatives planned?
Sturtevant’s Wellness programs have focused on physical activity and nutrition.  As a company, we participate in monthly activities such as nature walks and nutrition workshops. Six months ago, we implemented a weekly “bootcamp” class for employees at a local gym. We send out annual surveys to employees to gauge interest in wellness activities.  The focus has remained on nutrition and physical activity for the past 3 years.

What impact is/are they having on your organization and employees? 
Employees have been engaged in many of our programs.  I feel that we are creating a supportive environment for those employees wishing to lead a healthy life style.  

Are there aspects of your wellness program that make it unique that you would like to share? 
We have partnered with a local gym for weekly company paid “bootcamp” classes.  A few employees have also joined the gym and utilize the facilities in addition to the weekly class.  

Who are your wellness champions? (CEO, division leader, HR leader, an employee, etc) 

We are fortunate to have the support of all senior management.  Our wellness committee includes: Erin Barr, Controller
Janice Brennan, Bookkeeper
Marie Sheehan, Secretary
Steve Marshall, Marketing Manager
Rich Robatzek, Product Manager
Jason Swift, Purchasing Dept

Any words of wisdom for organizations starting a new program? 

When we were establishing our wellness plan, we found it very helpful to survey the employees.  We wanted to provide relevant programs in order to engage employees.  It is also important to have management support.  Having the support of senior management gave credibility to our efforts.  


Tags:  Sturtevant  wellness programs  Worksite Wellness  Worksite Wellness Programs  Workwell Massachusetts  workwell massachusetts awards 

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Q&A with 2016 Silver WorkWell MA Award Winner, Cambridge Health Alliance

Posted By Melissa Matheson, Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Cambridge Health Alliance WorkWell Massachusetts Award Winner Q&A
Interviewee: Carolyn Ballard, Wellness Manager

Tell us about yourself and your organization. 
Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) is a vibrant, innovative health system dedicated to providing essential services to all members of the community. With over 140,000 patients in Cambridge, Somerville, and Boston’s Metro North region, CHA is a local provider of choice for primary care, specialty care, emergency services, hospital care, maternity care and behavioral health. We are made up of more than 4,000 employees, all of whom are eligible to participate in the Wellness Program.

I have been with CHA since July of 2015. My background is in psychology and nutrition and I am a Registered Dietitian, so I have the ability to create much of our nutrition programming myself. My main responsibilities include project management, program development, marketing and communications, and outreach. I also manage our onsite yoga classes with the help of a part-time yoga program coordinator. 

Congratulations on being a WWCMA WorkWell Massachusetts awardee. What does this mean for team/you? 

We view an award from WWCMA as a message that we have developed an exemplary and comprehensive program. Because the WorkWell awards are based on both the HERO Scorecard and peer review, we feel that this award is especially meaningful.

Why are wellness programs important for your organization?

Having a wellness program is important for us as a healthcare system because we employ some of the most deeply passionate caretakers. We know from research that caretakers tend to neglect their own well-being in their drive to serve others, which is why we emphasize Self-Care as one of our four pillars of wellness at CHA. In addition, one of our strategic plan objectives is to be a great place to work, which we feel cannot be accomplished without a robust employee wellness program. Lastly, we see wellness as a pathway to employee engagement. While many organizations look to ROI as the primary measure of success, we prioritize measures of engagement when evaluating the impact of our program.

What wellness program(s) have you implemented? Any new initiatives planned?
The programs that we have implemented can be divided into four distinct categories, coinciding with our four pillars of wellness:


  • Key message: “Make time for you”
  • Offerings: Mindfulness courses, Ditch the Diet Club (video-based program promoting the principles of intuitive eating over strict dieting), tobacco cessation program, financial education seminars, depression and mental illness awareness


  • Key message: “Rest and recharge”
  • Offerings: Onsite yoga classes, onsite chair massage, sleep education


  • Key message: “Find what moves you”
  • Offerings: Annual walking challenge, bikeshare and gym discounts 


  • Key message: “One size fits none”
  • Maintain Don’t Gain (holiday weight maintenance challenge), healthy vending options, pickup location for Farmer Dave’s CSA

In addition, we also use our weekly Wellness Wednesday Newsletter to spread the word about upcoming events, programs, and healthy tips. We are planning a recognition program for 2017 which will allow employees to be acknowledged for engaging in healthy habits at work. Next year is also when we plan to roll out incentives tied to our health plan.

What impact is/are they having on your organization and employees? 
Through our program evaluations we have learned that:

  • Walking challenge participants had more motivation to be physically active after our annual walking challenge, and they also reported feeling more connected to their coworkers as compared to the start of the program. Both results were statistically significant.
  • One in three Maintain Don’t Gain participants actually lost weight over the holiday season, while another 63% successfully maintained their weight.
  • A 2016 field assessment revealed that 93% of employees are aware of the wellness program, which tells us that the potential impact of the program is significant. 
  • We have demonstrated an 80% retention rate in our programs.
  • Employee engagement surveys revealed that “wellness” was used in an open-ended question about what CHA is doing well. Wellness was also mentioned in another open-ended question that asked about what recognition programs are offered at the organization.

Are there aspects of your wellness program that make it unique that you would like to share? 

Our program reflects the inclusive nature of our organization. We respect and appreciate diversity at CHA, and the Wellness program is no exception. We feature recipes from many parts of the world, including Brazil, Haiti, Portugal, and Latin America. In addition, we custom build nearly all of our programs to ensure their appeal. Finally, we have developed a logic model as the basis for measuring the effectiveness of our program. The logic model informs our individual program evaluations, which are developed to assess outcomes, satisfaction, and process measures. 

Who are your wellness champions? (CEO, division leader, HR leader, an employee, etc) 
We have two senior leaders on the Wellness team and three levels of champions. Joy Curtis, SVP of Human Resources and Chief HR Officer, and David Porell, Chief Administrative Officer, are the two senior leaders on the Wellness team. 

Additional executives/senior leaders make up our Executive Steering Committee (18 members including CEO), while mid-level managers and directors from various departments comprise our Wellness Advisory Committee (17 members). Finally, at the employee level we have over 40 Wellness Ambassadors across 11 sites.

Any words of wisdom for organizations starting a new program? 

Begin with the end in mind. Before creating a single program, policy, or initiative, a clear end goal should be established. From there, comprehensive information gathering should take place – including employee surveys, focus groups, and analysis of claims data. Organizations looking to start a new program should plan to spend a minimum of 6-12 months in the planning stages. This can be difficult, especially when leaders are enthusiastic about beginning, but it is crucial to ensuring the success and longevity of the program.


Tags:  Cambridge Health Alliance  CHA  Wellness champions  wellness programs  Worksite Wellness  Worksite Wellness Programs  Workwell Massachusetts  workwell massachusetts awards 

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Q&A with 2016 Bronze Level WorkWell MA Award Winner, Babson College

Posted By Melissa Matheson, Tuesday, November 1, 2016

2016 Workwell MA Bronze Award Winner, Babson College
Interview with Jennifer Forbes

Tell us about your yourself and your organization. 
At Babson, we make the health and wellness of our employees a priority, and are constantly working on creating new ways to educate, promote, and empower members of the community to make positive lifestyle choices. Wellness programs at Babson encompass physical, mental, emotional, financial, nutritional, spiritual, environmental, social, and intellectual topics in order to provide a holistic approach to health and wellness. Babson’s wellness programs help employees to be well not only while they’re at Babson, but throughout their lives.

Congratulations on being a WWCMA WorkWell Massachusetts awardee. What does this mean for your team/you?
Babson strives to create a culture of health and wellness unlike any other. We focus on providing our employees with a variety of programs that meet their needs. Our employees are constantly telling us how much they enjoy Babson’s wellness programs, and how they have been able to improve their own health as a result of their participation. We’re thrilled that WorkWell has recognized the work we’ve done, but we’re even more thrilled at the positive effect our wellness programs have had on the entire Babson community. Knowing that we are having a positive impact on employees’ mental, physical, and emotional health is very rewarding, and shows that our efforts are paying off for the entire community.

Why are wellness programs important for your organization?
Wellness programs allow us to show our employees that we care about them as individuals, and we value their health. Babson’s commitment to health and wellness is another way for us to invest in our employees and the Babson community, providing opportunities that make employees healthier, more engaged and productive, and more excited to come to work. Our wellness programs not only draw new employees, they help us provide something new and different to our current employees as we are constantly adding new programs. 

What wellness program(s) have you implemented? Any new initiatives planned?
Babson’s wellness programs include but are not limited to boot camp, Zumba, yoga, tai chi, meditation, walking and running clubs, yoga, and seminars with topics such as healthy eating, juicing, nutrition, stress management, elder care, and holiday eating. This past spring we implemented a wellness challenge called Spring Into a New You focused on six different dimensions of wellness using the BeWell name: Be Fit, Be Nourished, Be Sustainable, Be Intellectual, Be Mindful, and Be Social. Participants received a card each week and were required to complete one activity in as many of the six different wellness dimensions as possible. Once a participant had completed at least 4 dimensions on a card, they could turn it in for a new one. Each completed card served as one entry for the raffle prizes at the end of the challenge. We will be creating a similar challenge with a twist for spring 2017.

What impact is/are they having on your organization and employees? 
Wellness programs at Babson encompass physical, mental, emotional, financial, nutritional, spiritual, environmental, social, and intellectual topics in order to provide a holistic approach to health and wellness. Babson’s wellness programs help employees to be well all the time. Because of the wellness programs employees try new activities, meet new people across campus, implement healthier habits, and find themselves making wellness a greater priority in their lives.

Are there aspects of your wellness program that make it unique that you would like to share? 
Babson’s wellness programs are entirely free of cost for employees, and we constantly add new programs to provide variety. The programs are also only available to faculty and staff to ensure that employees feel comfortable working out at work.

Who are your wellness champions? (CEO, division leader, HR leader, an employee, etc) 
Babson is fortunate to have wellness champions at all levels and across all divisions of the college. From Cabinet members to administrative assistants, all employees have gotten behind the wellness program. While HR is the biggest driver of the program, we have a cabinet member teaching tai chi, multiple employees teaching classes such as yoga and weight training, and we constantly receive support from individuals in every area from faculty divisions to facilities.

Any words of wisdom for organizations starting a new program? 
Starting a new program is not easy, and it is best to have a set idea of the strategy before starting the program. Make sure to understand the cost implications in terms of paying for instructors, getting space for class, and ensuring that there is a direct payment method for any programs with a cost to participants. Try to get as much for free or at a discounted rate as possible, and let people know that if they work with you then you will continue to use them going forward. Find out what participants want to ensure that you are offering classes they will want to be a part of. Finally, enjoy the fact that you are doing something good for employees and ensuring that health and wellness are a priority for your organization.


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Tags:  Wellness Programs  Worksite Wellness  WorkWell Massachusetts  workwell massachusetts awards 

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What is Telemedicine?

Posted By Melissa Matheson, Tuesday, August 16, 2016
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation report of 2015 employer-sponsored health insurance covers over half of the non-elderly US population, for a total of 147 million people. A report published by the Institute for Healthcare Consumerism suggests that health care costs use up to 50% or more of a company’s corporate profits. Of these, the indirect costs of poor health that include absence of work and decreased productivity can be up to 2 to 3 times the amount spent on direct medical costs.  As companies become more engaged in their need to decrease costs associated with providing healthcare to their employees, emerging telemedicine platforms are rapidly evolving as a potential vital tool to control costs, improve access to care, and reduce absenteeism. 

By engaging telemedicine enabled care, employees avoid the disruption of having to take time off to receive care for conditions which can be generally managed via remote access. Telemedicine services can take several forms: real-time video or telephonic communication including text interaction between patient and physician, remote monitoring of patients such as those with chronic illnesses, medication adherence tools, and other remote web and mobile applications to assist with management. 

Approximately 74% of employers plan to offer telehealth services to their employees in states where telehealth is permitted. This represents an increase of approximately 48% from 2015.   37% of employers in 2015 expected to offer their employees telemedicine consultations to offset costly emergency room or physician office visits. By 2016 – 2017 an additional 34% expected to offer telemedicine consultations as a viable alternative. A potential $6 billion in savings could be achieved by employing telehealth services in the workplace.  

Telemedicine is certainly at the forefront of medicine, but several issues must be addressed and process redesign in the creation of new delivery care models including those in the workplace must take center stage:
  1. The declining number of primary care physicians as well as increasing wait times for physician visits and the demand for same day visits are helping drive telemedicine and telehealth to the forefront of innovative solutions to offset these problems. However, fragmentation of care continues to be a concern especially for consumers frequently using alternative sources of care other than their primary care physicians. Additionally, telehealth services pose a significant threat to disruption in the continuity of care for patients, especially those with chronic conditions such as diabetes.  

  2. Contracting directly with vendors such as Teladoc, MDLive or Doctor On-Demand permits corporate entities to establish preferential pricing solutions to help offset costs of providing care. Telehealth providers generally employ either proprietary or private Electronic Health Records (EHR’s) in the process of providing care. The patient data incorporated and integrated into the health record remains with the vendor’s EHR. It is important to understand how the employee have easy access to their medical history as well as have the tele-visit encounter transferred to their primary care physician. What will happen to data access if the vendor goes out of business? How are requests for the information gathered during the telehealth encounter dealt with by the vendor? Who owns the data of the encounter and what safeguards are in place to protect patient/employee confidentiality and monitor HIPAA privacy compliance? Undoubtedly, telehealth vendors like all providers have a need to not only obtain data, but also analyze, track, and interpret data to help achieve the performance goals. 

  3. Furthermore, what safeguards are in place in the event of misdiagnosis or delay of treatment? Are the vendors of telehealth services solely at risk or are employers also at risk in the event of malpractice litigation? 

  4. Accessing a provider through a web or mobile service may not be the preferred option for every employee population. How does the vendor plan to communicate the service, increase adoption, and drive engagement

Telemedicine offers a solution for employees to obtain care in the workplace and at home without disruption of normal activities. While telehealth can expand the reach of medicine and potentially reduce the cost of certain services for many, it is still an unstructured field with many different approaches to care. 

Article written by: Mario Moya MD
Mario Moya MD is a native of Del Rio, Texas and has been in private practice in the Philadelphia area since 1995. He currently works providing vascular services in the outpatient setting in multiple states and holds unrestricted licenses in 21 states.  Dr. Moya earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Texas at Austin and subsequently pursued his medical studies at the University of Nuevo Leon in Monterrey, Mexico on a scholarship program. He completed Surgical and Internal Medicine Internships as well as Radiology Residency at Mercy Catholic in 1994 followed by a Fellowship in Vascular and Interventional at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston Texas. Committed to lifelong learning, he is currently enrolled as a student in Brown University’s Executive Master of Healthcare Leadership. Dr. Moya became interested in population health management and the use of telemedicine as an adjunct in the proactive management of chronic conditions such as Diabetes.  As a physician, he is passionate about being at the forefront of new models of care that employ evolving virtual technologies with true medical home care services providing greater access to care for management of chronic conditions in underserved areas. 


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Tags:  Employee Benefits  Employee Engagement  HR  Human Resources  Telemedicine  Wellness Programs  Worksite Wellness  Worksite Wellness Programs 

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Appoint Wellness Champions To Promote Wellness Programs

Posted By Melissa Matheson, Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The first step to ensure employee participation in wellness initiatives is educating employees on program details and generating excitement about these offerings. Rather than have information about wellness programs come from the top down – like so many policies, programs, and procedures tend to in companies – it is important to have employees working on various levels to disseminate information, so the information is coming from peers.

These employees, dedicated to promoting and encouraging engagement in wellness programs, are typically called wellness champions. Wellness champions work in conjunction with a wellness committee to understand the offerings, determine which areas and programs need more participation, and provide feedback on program interest from their peers.

When searching for wellness champions for your wellness program, a few questions may arise.

  • How many wellness champions do we need to have to help make our program successful
  • A good goal is to have about 2% of the workplace population participating as wellness champions. This will allow exposure within the organization but won’t bring too many people into the mix where it is unmanageable for the wellness committee to keep everyone informed and updated.
  • Ideally, all levels within the organization will be represented. Seeing wellness champions  that encourage others and that each employee can relate to, can drastically improve interest in programs.
  • People who are not only passionate about health and wellness, but also outgoing and trustworthy. These are the people who are most likely to fully embrace their role as a wellness champion and promote the programs while also gaining traction and interest from their peers. Additionally, those who are exposed to a lot of different areas in the company are great wellness champions. The more connections they have within the organization, the more people they will be able to reach when disseminating information regarding wellness programs.
  • Since wellness champions likely aren’t involved in the regular planning of wellness initiatives, it is essential to ensure consistent communication. Updating wellness champions on any changes and setting clear expectations of their role to promote the wellness program is very important. There should also be established checkpoints to gain feedback from wellness champions and identify how the wellness champion role might shift during different stages of wellness programs or as new offerings arise.
  • What levels within the organization should participate as wellness champions?
  • What types of people should we be looking for as wellness champions?
  • How do we involve wellness champions in the wellness program?

Wellness champions will take on different roles depending on the programs and organizations they are representing. It is important to evaluate all aspects of wellness programs consistently, including wellness champions and their roles.

Tags:  employee engagement  wellness ambassadors  wellness champions  wellness programs 

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The Worksite Wellness Council of Massachusetts (WWCMA) is the preeminent, independent and objective resource for health promotion in the workplace and champions wellness programs to help employers encourage healthy employees, healthy families, and healthy communities across the Commonwealth.