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Health & Well-Being Blog

Mobile Health Apps Support Behavior Change On-the-Go

If you think about it from a user-engagement perspective, mobile health (mHealth) makes total sense. Most wellness activities take place when people are not near a computer – for example, when they’re walking the dog, playing a sport, eating a healthy snack, meditating, etc. Asking them to record their activity after returning to the office or home seems like a tall order – plenty of distractions like e-mails and children await! On the other hand, if people are able to record wellness activities while “in the moment,” there is a much higher likelihood for engagement. Mobile technology makes this possible….

Take Action for Meaningful Health Behavior Change

How do you get your employees or plan members motivated to make positive behavior change with respect to their health? This is the question we’ve been asking. We constantly task ourselves with how we can use the latest behavior change research and technology to help people make changes that allow them to live happier and healthier lives. One of the challenges we have always faced has been that we have such a wealth of resources available. How do we best get the right health information to the right people, while at the same time allowing individuals to gather as much…

Is It Time for a New Approach to Condition Management?

Traditional disease management (DM) centers around a nurse outbound-call model covering a wide variety of conditions. Nurses are housed in call centers or work virtually to engage participants in proper management of their chronic condition. But is this model working? We’re not sure it is. Engagement rates are low, the condition list is long, and ROI evidence is spotty. What if we think about condition management in a new way? What might that look like, and how would it change the condition management experience? How about a whole-person approach that takes all of an individual’s health risks and conditions into…

A New Approach to Tobacco Cessation Programs

With high potential return-on-investment, it’s not surprising that smoking cessation programs are one of the first steps in many company wellness initiatives. But how do you know know that the smoking cessation program you choose will provide lasting results? It’s one thing to help someone quit smoking. It’s another thing to help smokers get ready to quit – and help them stay quit. Integrated health coaching and health resources keep quitters on track WebMD Health Services integrates our whole-person health coaching and our online health resources for a step-by-step approach to smoking cessation: Help smokers get ready to quit. Smokers…

Exercise and Employee Wellness: The Financial Impact of a Sedentary Population

Most of us know we should exercise more. And as employee wellness professionals, we know we should be encouraging employees and health plan members to be more physically active. But do you really know what the impact is of getting people off the couch and into a more active lifestyle? And do you know how much activity is needed to make a difference in people’s health?

Body Mass Index: Know Your BMI Number

Recent headlines are keeping obesity, nutrition, and exercise in the news. Even HBO has gotten in the act, with a four-part documentary series on The Weight of the Nation.[1. A presentation of HBO and the Institute of Medicine (IOM), in association with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and in partnership with the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and Kaiser Permanente. http://theweightofthenation.hbo.com] And while we can argue over the details, we should continue to discuss weight management, fitness, and nutrition – if only to keep healthy behaviors and choices at the top…

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Best Practices in Onsite Wellness Support

We interviewed Jen Hodges, director of onsite solutions for WebMD Health Services, on current best practices for incorporating onsite wellness staff, services, and programs. See what you need to consider before you start. Q: What kinds of onsite wellness support do you recommend? Jen: There are 3 basic categories of onsite wellness support: Onsite health coaches or wellness coordinators Onsite services, such as biometric screenings, health fairs, or clinics Onsite programs, such as classes, in-person health coaching, or wellness challenges. Q: Why is onsite wellness support important? Jen: Putting a dedicated person or programs onsite can boost employees’ perception that…

The Supreme Court Upholds Healthcare Reform: What’s Next?

Finally! Last week we got some direction for healthcare reform and where employers need to focus. The 2012 Supreme Court decision to uphold PPACA caught some by surprise, though, as some predicted that the mandate for individuals to have coverage could be struck down. With a 5-4 vote, it sounds like it was pretty close. Now that we have a ruling, employers have clear(er) direction on what they must do. By 2014, health plans considered “Cadillacs” will be susceptible to taxation. Employers must now report the value of benefits on W-2 forms and the new FSA $2500 limit becomes effective January 1, thus communications…

Engaging Mobile Design for Health Resources

Designing apps for mobile phones is a relatively new field. As more user segments migrate to smart phones, development languages evolve, social media usage expands, data transmission speeds quicken, and mobile phone hardware changes, developers have a had challenging (but often fun) time ascending the learning curve to create truly engaging mobile apps. The stark contrast between the user’s experiences with apps developed just a couple of years ago and with those of today is staggering, and proof that we are in a very fluid design environment. mHealth Applications and Health Management Unlike other mobile apps, mHealth app development is…

Easy Steps to Incorporate Fitness Into the Workplace

As I was riding my bike to work this morning, I was thinking about how WebMD as an employer has done a great job of providing options for its employees to exercise during the day. Those include official programs such as a team walking program at work, a movement-focused rewards program, and sponsorship of off-hours company sports teams (soccer), as well as sponsorship of charity runs and walks, bike parking, shower facilities, etc. WebMD has also incorporated an employee fitness program into the population by way of health incentives and wellness challenges that emphasis exercise – not just hardcore exercise,…

A Typical Healthcare Consumer

I have worked in healthcare for over fifteen years. Yet I still consider myself a typical healthcare consumer. Every year, during open enrollment, I compare available benefit plans and evaluate our family’s out-of-pocket costs. Thankfully, my husband and our three kids are healthy and require only the basic healthcare needs – strep throat, ear infection, the occasional virus and annual physicals. Healthcare costs are not something I typically stress about. This year, however, we’ve had a few healthcare events that have forced me to be more focused on our healthcare costs, and I’ve come to appreciate on a personal level…

The Health Incentives Evolution: Moving Toward Outcomes-Based Rewards

In the effort to drive engagement and achieve ROI, one of the most interesting evolutions in health incentives is the move toward outcomes-based health rewards. At its simplest level, this means rewarding individuals for meeting or improving specific biometric health values, such as: Blood pressure (BP) Body mass index (BMI) Glucose Cholesterol Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) Being tobacco-free This is a change from participation-based health rewards, which offer incentives for completing a health risk assessment (HRA) or participating in health management programs, without requiring any change in health status. The shift is aimed at rewarding those who are achieving healthy values….

Space Planning for Wellness in the Workplace

WebMD Health Services continues to grow, but our physical space wasn’t able to accommodate our growth in hiring. With the commitment of our management team to company wellness, we embarked on a project to optimize our current workspace while planning for additional growth. As a part of the bigger plan, our employees relocated to another location while our permanent space was updated and improved. Over the past several months, I’ve represented the product management team on an internal committee that has been shepherding that physical transformation. I’ve worked with multiple affinity groups in the office to ensure their voices are…

The Importance of “Triggers” in Corporate Wellness Programs

One of the most exciting developments in the health and wellness management field is the incorporation of behavior-change science. As the term implies, behavior-change science is the application of theories about what motivates (or demotivates) people to modify their behaviors. In healthcare, this science is increasingly being applied to motivate people to adopt new, good-for-you habits. Examples include getting people to exercise more, eat less, stop smoking, etc. Can you motivate employee wellness without health incentives? The catch is to do all of this without relying on financial health incentives as a motivational factor. After all, employers and health plans…

Game On: Health Management Program Improvement Through Game Theory

Gamification is a hot term right now, and we’ve spent a lot of time studying how game design can influence behavior and what that can mean for health management programs. For us, game design is part of an overall strategic approach that looks at all the ways we can drive health engagement. What we’re looking for are not just ways to add badges and points – we’re looking for effective new ways to motivate behavior change. On February 28, 2012 we presented a webinar that explored how game theory – sometimes called “gamification” – can help improve health management program design….

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