Putting ACO principles to work
Colorado Springs hospital offers coordinated care, incentives for employees
With healthcare reform approaching and economic challenges all around us, the landscape for healthcare providers is changing rapidly. There’s a lot of “buzz” in the media today about clinical integration, population health management and physician alignment. Most of the coverage outlines the general business case for hospitals moving in this direction and the impact it would have on a traditional delivery system. But I believe many of us could be missing the most compelling opportunity: What our healthcare systems are doing for our own employees.
With nearly 2,700 associates at Penrose-st. Francis Health Services in Colorado Springs, Colo., we decided to approach our employee population as if it were population managed by an accountable care organization almost a year ago. We already had in place a well-recognized associate wellness program—one of the longeststanding programs in the country that is consistently accredited at the platinum level by the American Heart Association as a fit-friendly workplace—but we stepped it up to become a cornerstone program in the toolbox of an ACO.
As individuals, we know health status is a combination of lifestyle behaviors, genetics, the environment and medical care—many factors we can control and some we can’t. Yet, all too often, we feel disempowered and uncertain how to exert control and make smart choices. At Penrose-st. Francis, we empowered our associates to become active partners in their health, and to cultivate a revitalized relationship with the primary-care provider of their choosing.
To help our associates make positive lifestyle and behavior choices, we added wellness coaching, evidence-based programs (stress management, weight loss, smoking cessation and chronic condition self-management), and provided an outcome-based incentive program to drive engagement. Our health management program goal is to build employee accountability so they can be role models for our patients and community. We have engaged about 42% of our associates in our programs so far and have tracked successful outcomes, including improved body mass index, blood pressure and increased activity. And they’re choosing healthier food items, thanks in part to our nutrition services’ commitment to providing daily “Better Bites” offerings.
To align with our physicians, we partnered