ENTRY FROM: The Top 100 Health Promotion Professionals

Nominee: Jason Horay

Practice Wellness....Healthy People. Healthy Practices

Jason Horay, MS, ATC, CHES

Health Promotion Coordinator, North Carolina Medical Society Employee Benefit Plan (NCMS Plan)

The NCMS Plan is the only statewide employee benefits plan designed specifically for North Carolina physicians. The NCMS Plan is made up of over 760 medical practices in NC with over 14,000 subscribers and over 23,000 members and has a footprint in every one of North Carolina’s 100 counties.

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Industry type: Insurance

Years of experience: 14 years

North Carolina Medical Society Wellness Initiative (NCMS Plan client)

NCMS EVP/CEO Robert Seligson shares details on the wellness initiative. Staff members at the NCMS can take advantage of reduced-cost personal training and free exercise classes. In addition, the NCMS has hosted speakers on healthy eating and nutrition and has offered assistance in helping staff quit smoking.

Professional Development

  • B.S., Sports Medicine, High Point University
  • M.S., Health Promotion,  Mississippi State University
  • Certified Athletic Trainer
  • Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES)
  • One of 60 professionals nationwide selected to become a certified Work@Health Trainer, a CDC sponsored program.

After concluding that medical school might not be my best option, I realized my degree offered 3 unique career paths, one of which was health promotion.  I knew I had made the right choice when I took graduate level classes in behavior change theories and models.  I have been hooked ever since.

The CHES certification as it laid a foundation that most closely resembled how I navigate my own life: Assess, Plan, Implement, Evaluate, Manage, Serve as Resource, Communicate and Advocate all for the better of others. In this case health.

Demonstrated Success

During my tenure, I’ve worked with several prominent employer groups including Cisco, IBM, Duke University and the NC Medical Society Employee Benefit Plan, some who have been recognized and received awards from the American Heart Association, Prevention Partners, CEO Cancer Gold Standard and HHS Secretary's Innovation in Prevention.  Since each program differs in the sense of demographics, focus and maturity, the meaning of demonstrated success can vary greatly.

Through my work with the NCMS Plan, I partner with our physician clients to integrate a wellness strategy with the added recommendations of incentives integrated in the benefit plan, awareness and focused engagement of lifestyle and risk reduction programs, policy development, annual exam/preventive screening adherence, healthy living presentations and biometric screenings.

In 2012, physician leadership recognized that support is essential and that best in class programs that have contained costs, improved employee health and don’t have strong senior level support rarely succeed.  Therefore, $500,000 was allotted to encourage practices to develop a wellness strategy.  The program provides a one-time financial grant of up to $15,000 for individual medical practices who develop and implement sustainable, evidenced based programs.  Success in the program is based on achieving “CORE” components defined as the roadmap to success.  Our methodology is to start with a financial incentive grant built around participation requirements such as health assessment completion, annual exam/preventive screening adherence and policy development.

So far I have found two pressure points that are working for the physicians…dollars and role modeling.  Like most human beings they do respond to financial incentives and with our grant program it’s a must that they reach certain participation goals.  And for some of the physicians I have found that appealing to the leadership role they have within their own practice is an effective approach.  My biggest challenge is not “what” but “who”.  The experts we most often turn to when our own health is in jeopardy…the physician.  Intellectually they understand and even value our wellness programs but they struggle to actively participate themselves.  I have come to notice they prefer to prescribe rather than subscribe to wellness.

Although our program is fairly new and continues to evolve, our efforts have yielded results.  The Practice Wellness grant program has enabled practices to effectively engage their employee population by implementing policies and strategies conducive to wellness.  To date, 66 medical practices, representing 1,566 members, have completed the program and 19 practices, representing 1,686 members, are actively implementing the CORE components.  We are using available data to justify and further integrate weight reduction/maintenance, nutrition and tobacco cessation benefits into the health plan offerings.   Our approach is effective, reproducible and scalable to even the smallest medical practices.

The NCMS Plan is positioning future programming to demonstrate a cost savings through reducing risk.  As the program matures, a focused effort includes evaluating impacts on health status, environmental level changes, quality of life measurements and organizational culture.


Improving and maintaining everyday lifestyle habits and practices is the best way I stay healthy, have more energy, channel stress, and manage conflict.  I believe our own example is the most powerful means of influence; therefore I remain physically and mentally active, coach both my sons’ soccer team and take pride in my ability to balance work and home life.

Achieving leadership status is a process that continues to evolve.  I prescribe to the basics of A-B-C.  A stands for ALL relationships and encounters can lead to something, so keep saying “hello.” B stands for BUILD those relationships over time. C stands for COMMUNICATE efficiently.

After recognizing a need to bring like-minded wellness professionals together in my area, I started the Triangle Health Promotion Network (THPN), a network of health promotion practitioners, providers, and consultants who help people thrive by promoting a healthy mind, body and spirit.

My advice to future leaders is to identify a mentor, align with a higher purpose, and be aware of your influence as an individual.


The NCMS Plan believes that it is more cost-effective to invest in an integrated strategy that addresses the health needs of all employees across the continuum.  By providing an integrated approach, we are working with medical practices in partnership with vendors, to improve overall health.  Below is a snapshot of our broad innovative solutions:

  • Provide significant incentive dollars for completion of CORE components.
  • Free, onsite consultation and outcomes reporting communicating and identifying members at risk and proven strategies for positive outcomes.  Results from a recent risk group analysis demonstrate14% moved to a lower risk, 71% stayed the same and 15% moved to a higher risk group.
  • Access to a comprehensive and fully integrated suite of services, including webinars, info-graphics, interactive maps in order to connect with a hard to reach, fast paced medical population.
  • Abilty to identify and collaborate with external partners for the provision of health promotion
  • Create cohesive teams by recruiting and delivering the CDC’s Work@Health to select medical practices.

Compelling Vision

My vision is to move beyond the traditional health risk reduction model (which really mimics the reactive medical model).  This current system confines us. I would like to see us focus less on biometrics and numbers, and instead, put more energy into the people themselves.  My dream would be to see a more holistic over-all health inventory of the employee so we can find the causes and make life-style changes from there.

The biggest threats/opportunities include:  (1) employers not touching on aspects of an individual beyond the mere physical to include emotional, spiritual and financial well-being.  (2) threatened participation and engagement resulting from awareness of employee privacy; and (3) changes in technological innovation.   As a practitioner, I will continue educating and inspiring colleagues on the impact of implementing programs that combine interdisciplinary knowledge for building health, energy, and vitality.  While I continue to carry out the noble duties of traditional risk reduction and maintenance programming, it's addressing the actual causes that will have the most potential on quality of life and purpose.


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Jason is a very motivated person. I have known him for a lot of years, and if he has a goal to reach his is all there.

Ginger S. on 10/07/2014

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