My name is Matthew Szenderski and I am a Health Management Specialist for Keenan and Associates in Torrance, CA. I have worked in the Health and Wellness Arena for 9 years. I have an MBA in Health Management, undergrad in Community Health and a WELCOA Faculty Member for 2 years. Currently there are approximately 700 employees that work in our organization with 8 locations in California. Of the approximately 700 employees over 100 are certified in WELCOAS 7 Benchmarks for Creating an Effective Wellness Program.
Revlon Run Downtown LA 5/14
My wellness journey began in 2003 as an intern for the Lucas County Health Department. During my time with the health department I was lucky enough to work on a program titled “Kids in Motion”. “Kids in Motion” was a program for overweight children between the ages of 7-12. We taught these kids proper exercise techniques and covered correct eating habits. It wasn’t long before we realized that before any progress was to be made with the children, interventions needed to happen with the parents as well. Dieticians and physicians were brought in to work with the parents about modifying eating and exercise habits in the home. This was my first introduction to gaining CEO Support (the parents) to effectively engage an employee population (the children) and drive healthy behavior change.
Upon graduating I began my career in Corporate Wellness as a Health Coach with Harris Health Trends (HHT). HHT became Healthways and after a short time of coaching I took a position with Healthways as a Wellness Coordinator. My main role in this position was to oversee their fingerstick biometric screening clients. I traveled the county organizing and implementing onsite biometric screening campaigns. Some of my larger clients were Dell Computers, Abbott Labs, Experian, and Yazaki International. These were large screening campaigns (30,000+) with the ability to make a positive impact on a lot of lives. After my time at Healthways I was a Health Coach and Wellness Coordinator for WebMD Health Services (2008-2012). In 2012, after graduating with my MBA in Health Management I was lucky enough to begin full time consulting with Keenan and Associates.
During these 9 years working in Corporate Wellness I almost always worked nights and weekends as a personal trainer for either LA Fitness or Urban Active. Currently outside of Keenan I am a Health Coach for the Take Shape for Life weight loss program. Working one-on-one with another human and supporting that individual as they improve their own health drives me. Especially weight loss. I can honestly say one of my main motivators in life is to use my skills to help others improve the quality of their own life. I love to be on the "front lines" of the obesity epidemic in the United States. A lot of other candidates for this award will talk about health and wellness, how many actually get their hands dirty? Being a dedicated wellness professional sometimes includes meeting a participant at the gym for a 5am workout because you know they won't go without that extra support.
Program design - I believe in data driven wellness initiatives comprised with activities that can measured year-to-year. Such as biometric screenings which measure cholesterol, blood pressure, and BMI. This biometric screening is usually followed with a health assessment. A good wellness program driven by data looks at current biometrics (screening) and behaviors (health assessment) to effectively evaluate a population. Upon learning what health risks are prevalent among a population follow up programming is administered to drive behavior change in the targeted area.
Incentives – I am a firm believer of tying participation in a wellness program to medical premiums. At Keenan this is the standard of what we recommend for program design to our clients. First year you might want to think about gift cards or raffles and focus on awareness but ultimately to drive maximum engagement the important data gathering activities (biometrics, health assessment, challenges) need to be tied to medical premiums. Programs that continually provide gift cards for participation in the wellness program will struggle long term as the cost for this protocol can be very high and almost eliminate any ROI for the program. Unfortunately it has been my experience that the participants who need the program the most will not get involved unless participation in the program is tied to their wallet.
Fully Insured Clients – In my eyes the future of the “Wellness” in America surrounds working closely with the large Carriers (Kaiser, Anthem, Blue Shield, UHC, Healthnet) building wellness programs with the tools and resources available through their current offerings. Third-party vendors are great, but a high number of clients do not have a budget for a third party vendor. These clients still would like to promote wellness among their employee populations so leveraging wellness resources (health assessments, biometric screenings, and challenges) offered through the Carriers allows a client with a small budget to administer a rather robust wellness program.
After designing activities using resources available through the Carriers develop incentives surrounding premiums, co-pays, and deductibles for participation in the activities through the Carrier which the participant is covered under. As long as the Carrier is not receiving any PHI (aggregate reporting only) this is not a HIPPA violation. Also you could have the participant complete certain activities, like the biometric screening, with their physicians which would save on cost and help nurture that patient doctor relationship.
As Dr. Hunnicut use to share on his educational webinars good, better, best. I often share this with my groups when designing wellness programs and keeping wellness committees engaged.