ENTRY FROM: The Top 100 Health Promotion Professionals

Nominee: Tracie Meyer

Moving the Needle to a Healthy Kentucky

The Personnel Cabinet of Kentucky implemented a worksite wellness program in 2008 and an employee health plan benefit consisting of a pedometer web based platform. The cabinet employees approximately 35,000 employees and insures over 200,000 lives. The numbers were bleak across the Commonwealth of Kentucky and across the nation. The previous administration began a program addressing the poor health of all Kentuckians through the public health department. An employee worksite wellness pilot program occurred prior to the hiring of Tracie Meyer the current State Wellness Director. Since her hiring several worksite wellness challenges were developed and implemented across the commonwealth using a wellness webpage based best practice resources. In January 2012 a plan wide wellness program began utilizing existing programs and adding the health plan benefit HumanaVitality. The collaboration of the Creative Services and Innovations team, the Department of Employee insurance, HumanaVitality, the Department of Public Health and the current administration’s support and determination to improve the health of all Kentuckians has produced astounding improvement in participation and support of several programs to accomplish the goals of improving the health of Kentucky.

I am employed at Personnel Cabinet of Kentucky as the State Wellness Director in state government with six years experience in the wellness field.

1. Professional Development
a. Education; MA in Art Therapy.
b. Kentucky state license and WELCOA faculty member.
c. I received recognition by the Kentucky Art Therapy Association for my work achieving legislation licensing art therapists.
d. Over the past 20 years practicing as an art therapist it became clear to me that holistic health and prevention are the most effective treatments.
e. Kentucky license LPAT

2. Demonstrated Success
a. Tying the wellness program to the health insurance benefit. Our members complete an online health assessment and receive a “Vitality Age” allowing our members to see the rate their body is aging. The assessment is comprehensive and addresses physical activity, nutrition, stress, biometrics, absenteeism/presenteeism, lifestyle choices of alcohol and tobacco use, and mental health.
b. The decision to offer a benefit rich health plan to our members requiring them to complete the health assessment in the first six months of the calendar year is the intervention that worked best. Previously the wellness program was offered but not required. When participation became a requirement, member participation rose from 16,768 in 2012 to 137,000 in 2014. We believe having our members become aware of their overall health risks and positive lifestyle choices is a significant change and one of the first steps for improving and maintaining health.
c. Outcomes of our interventions can be told in the success stories of our members. Many members have not seen a physician for an annual health checkup. Often members are shocked by “how old they really are” and set goals within their personal platform to improve their health. They can choose to use a health coach to reach their goals or a personal nurse to manage health conditions. These actions are incentivized within the member’s account. We regularly hear about members reducing their “Vitality Age” by taking action after completing the health assessment. From a behavior change and culture change outcome we have members interacting with their platform, their coaches, their families, communities and coworkers by talking about their accomplishments, attending 5Ks to marathons, or by  being a part of the wellness champs across the state and having worksite events, such as biometric screenings and walking groups.
d. 1. CEO Support: We are fortunate to have a governor who has launched the KYhealthnow program, a Kentucky Employees’ Health Plan commissioner who has completely supported the wellness program and who reaches out to other leaders across Kentucky requesting their support.  2. Creating Cohesive Wellness Teams: With the dedication and commitment of our vendor and leadership we have developed large system wide wellness champs as well as smaller worksite wellness champs. 3. Collecting Data to Drive Health Efforts: We use AON to collect and analyze our trends. 4. Carefully Crafting an Operating Plan: Weekly meeting occur with leadership, the CSI team, our vendor, and the wellness director to address our operating plan. 5. Choosing Appropriate Interventions: Best practice interventions are part of our member platform. As an employer we have chosen to incentivize several programs. A Walk with Ease program, a CDC Diabetes Prevention Program, the Weight of the Nation, a school fitness program called SWARM, and a weight loss challenge. 6. Creating a Supportive Environment: Many cabinets have wellness time policies and wellness groups in the worksite. 7. Carefully Evaluating Outcomes: AON partnering with the health plan’s team.

3. Leadership
a. Walking the Walk is a priority for me. The top level in our wellness program is called “Platinum Level” I have achieved this the past two years of our program and expect all wellness champs to do the same.  I achieved WELCOA Faculty status, carry a water bottle, wear a couple of fitness devices, eat healthy food, enter 5K races, and participate in biometric screenings. I believe that when I can be seen wearing my work badge or not it is my first responsibility to demonstrate a commitment to wellness.  I stay informed of best practices nationally.
b. I am an avid reader and lifelong learner often listening to audio books while driving.
c. Live by example! Be gentle while sharing your enthusiasm because you don’t know another person’s story.

4. Innovation
a. 1. I believe that connecting the wellness program to the health insurance plan is the single most effective way we have generated better results.  2. In cabinets where leadership has stepped forward and encouraged participation we see a large increase in employee participations.  3. Having a “Wellness Champ” on staff in agencies generates increased worksite engagement and innovation.  4. Utilizing behavior economics theory and techniques.  5. A communication plan that is robust and able to reach members has been a must to generate engagement which leads to participation and better results just follow.
b. Innovative Strategy
a. Health status improvements are noted in our health insurance cost trends.
b. Behavior/Culture Change: Is noted in our members and agencies making the decision to choose/serve water over soda and healthy food options in the cafeterias, walking groups, community gardens,  organize/participation in  5K-marathon races.

5. Compelling Vision
a. I believe the biggest opportunities we face throughout the next five years is success. More business and communities understand the importance of health and in finding ways to provide wellness opportunities. It doesn’t stop at home, or at work, because healthy individuals and families equal healthy communities that flourish.  There is an economic component that cannot be ignored. I tend to be one of those professionals who like the human side of results. Knowing that even one person’s change in health could spare a family from losing a contributing member and how that “pebble in the pond” reaches not just the individual but many people, that just makes me proud to do what I do.

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Tracie M.
I am an artist who believes that my journey in life is to leave the world a better place than when I got here. I received my BA in Art/Printmaking and my MA in Art Therapy at the University of Louisville. My interest in wellness has been a huge part of my success as a therapist since it leads me to treat the whole person and not just the problems that encouraged someone to seek services. I worked 18 years in the behavioral health field prior to my current position. I love to witness another person make changes in their lifestyle and see those smiles! My personal belief is that we have one body in life and we need to treat ourselves well to make the journey the most fulfilling as possible. View Tracie M.'s Profile.
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Hi Tracie, All the best with your contest entry. Your total number of votes is certainly impressive! Having reviewed your entry, I especially like and appreciate your comment, "Having a “Wellness Champ” on staff in agencies generates increased worksite engagement and innovation." I totally agree with this premise and it is the very cornerstone of Kelly Wellness Consulting's international Workplace Wellness Ambassador Certification Program. I would love to connect with you offline to chat more about your programs and services as I am seeking interested and talented Workplace Wellness Professionals like yourself as guest presenters/facilitators for our online Ambassador Certification program. Additionally, I would most welcome a case study of your organization's successes for a KWC International White Paper on Workplace Wellness Perspectives, Best Practices, & Case Studies that we are currently developing. With permission, these papers will also become case studies for our soon to be launched Certification Program providing further recognition to your amazing successes. Please contact me at if either of these opportunities are of interest to you. I look forward to connecting in the near future!

Lisa K. on 10/09/2014

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