St. Luke's Hospital in Chesterfield, Mo., has been a longtime proponent-perhaps even a pioneer-of population health management. From its earliest wellness initiatives providing community childbirth classes in the 1960s to its current "Wellness College" lecture series on healthy aging and its health partnerships with local organizations, St. Luke's believes a healthy community is stronger and more prosperous. Good health care is not only about treating disease, but also about bringing the message of healthy living to the community where people work, play, and raise their families. St. Luke's has always embraced the idea that keeping people healthy is much more efficient than providing care once they develop chronic illnesses-a notion that has received much attention through healthcare reform.

Skyrocketing healthcare costs and payment challenges are forcing all hospitals to closely examine expenditures and eliminate inefficiencies while maximizing cost savings. St. Luke's is no exception. Not only is it examining existing operations, St. Luke's is also looking for new opportunities to add value to its core operations and stand out from other hospitals in its immediate market. The hospital has realized that although wellness is one of its core competencies, it needs to leverage its commitment in more strategic ways to enhance its value to the community.

At the same time, increased healthcare costs are challenging employers everywhere to look for innovative approaches to reduce health claims and insurance costs and to improve the overall health of their employees. Increasingly, employers are asking for solutions to their population heath management issues. St. Luke's recognized that its track record in community wellness gave it a tremendous potential for offering wellness programs customized to the needs of both employers and employees. Gary Olson and Pearson Talbert, the authors of this article to be published in the June issue of hfm, describe how St. Luke's implemented a targeted and measurable employer wellness strategy.

St. Luke's began developing a new initiative that would meet the growing demands of the business community by:

  • Influencing consumer choice of hospitals and physicians
  • Creating lasting relationships with consumers
  • Influencing health insurance purchasing decisions
  • Measurably improving the health of the community
  • Initiating new services to meet the changing needs of consumers

St. Luke's also structured its program to meet the goals of local businesses by:

  • Identifying health risks of each employer's workforce 
  • Providing targeted solutions to their population health management issues
  • Measurably improving the health of their employees
  • Reducing health-related costs, such as health insurance premiums and claims and workers' compensation utilization
  • Providing a positive new health benefit that would be well received by employees

In November 2005, St. Luke's launched its "Passport to Wellness" workforce health initiative, aimed at helping employers reduce preventable illnesses. Today, the program has been implemented at 170 employer worksites, where more than 150,000 employees have access to screenings, health education, health coaching, disease management, and healthy lifestyle programs.
Read this article in the June issue of hfm to learn more about the implementation of St. Luke's wellness program as well as the results achieved and lessons learned during the process.

Publication Date: Tuesday, May 01, 2012

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