ENTRY FROM: The Top 100 Health Promotion Professionals

Nominee: Allison Ledford


Norton Healthcare is a nationally recognized, integrated, not-for-profit hospital health care system and the third largest private employer in Louisville, Kentucky. The system includes 12 Norton Immediate Care Centers and more than 116 physicians practice locations in Kentucky and Southern Indiana. With more than 12,000 employees, we understand the critical importance of maintaining a healthy productive workforce to provide quality care to the patients we serve.

Norton Healthcare established the N Good Health (NGH) department in 2009 to serve as an umbrella for all prevention and well-being activities for the organization. In 2013, this vision expanded to become a service line to promote wellness and reduce preventable illness and injury in our community. Integral to the success of NGH is the public statement of support from our leaders, particularly our chief executive officer and our president:
• We endorse our efforts to enhance the health and wellness of Norton Healthcare employees and applaud their achievements in obtaining optimal health. Our leaders are committed to:
o Maintaining a healthier work environment, which supports employees’ choices for healthy eating and physical activity.
o Integrating a culture of wellness into the organization’s values; a health-conscious environment that benefits employees, families and patients.

Allison, as the Director of employee wellness, helped Norton Healthcare develop and launch the N Good Health program over 6 years ago. N Good Health is a wellness program to empower employees (and spouses) to take charge of their health. Our goal is to become the healthiest health system in the region. We will:
• Be a healthy place to work
• Support healthy choices
• Support a healthy work-life balance
• Improve our health
• Lower avoidable health care costs

Smoothie Bike Video

I collaborated with the Bike to Beat Cancer, a 1 day cycling event, to promote health and wellness across Norton Healthcare, as well as fund raise for the Norton Cancer Institute. When an employee rode the bike for 2 minutes, N Good Health paid for their smoothie, which was a $5 donation to the Norton Cancer Institute. Our senior executives promoted the event by riding themselves and making this promotional video that we used to market the Smoothie Bike Tour.

1. Professional Development

I completed undergraduate and graduate degrees in kinesiology at Indiana University, majoring as a fitness specialist with a minor in nutrition. I am currently pursuing a master of business administration (MBA). 

My passion is working with a diverse and aging population to implement innovative solutions to improve health-related issues through behavior change.

Certifications: personal trainer, health fitness specialist and worksite wellness program manager; Cooper/Clayton Method to Stop Smoking facilitator; YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program facilitator; faculty status with WELCOA; Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) Think Tank member, member of local boards and committees focused on population/worksite health and wellness.

2. Demonstrated Success

N Good Health has received local and national recognition for best practices in wellness by Business First’s Healthiest Employers of Greater Louisville (2013); Healthiest Employers’ Healthiest 100 Workplaces in America for 2014 (#7); American Heart Association (Platinum); and the Mayor’s Worksite Wellness Award (Gold). On the national/international level, I’ve discussed the design and evaluation of our interventions as a part of our formal strategic plan for health management at the World Congress Executive Forum on Rewarding Healthy Behavior; the 2013 SAS Global Forum; and the 2014 Art & Science of Health Promotion conference.

Overall, we attribute our success to our collaborative efforts to create an effective employee health management program and a culture of wellness:

  • Human Resources: Values-based benefits and financial incentives, tobacco-free policy. Benefits representatives promote enrollment at new employee orientation
  • Medical Groups and Population Health: Employee incentives linked to maintaining a Norton Healthcare primary care provider. Physicians have expanded practice hours and provide real-time data through MyChart, our electronic medical records system
  • Pharmacy: Navigators educate participants with diabetes and other chronic conditions through “Rx for Better Health,” our Diabetes Pharmacy Medication Therapy Management program
  • Marketing and Communications: Plan yearly campaigns and coordinate electronic, print and social media
  • Food and Nutrition: Healthy food policies, such as removing sugared drinks from menus and expanding healthy options for employees and patients. Healthy eating punch card provides $5 credit after 10 healthy items are purchased.
  • Wellness Advisory Council: Wellness champions promote N Good Health
  • Norton University:  Enhance educational opportunities for staff; engage leaders in the through leadership onboarding
  • Clinical Effectiveness and Quality: Promote adherence to screening and care guidelines
  • Safety/Workman’s Compensation: Focus on back and neck pain to reduce employee injury and to enhance safety trainings
  • Legal and Risk: Interpret new laws and maintain patient confidentiality
  • Employee Health: Offer education and no-cost nicotine-replacement products Leadership: Executive and middle management leaders partner together

i.e. Stakeholder efforts: Identify way to fund financial incentives as part of employee benefits. Participating employees (and spouses) can earn up to $1,300 in wellness credits ($25 per participant per pay period).

i.e. Senior leadership support: Investment from our Human Resources team, Information Services and others helped put financial initiatives in place quickly. N Good Health has become part of our organization’s cultural norm in just five years.

Our ability to use self-reporting, physician/provider reporting, biometrics and claims data has focused our efforts. Based on this data, we created a strategically focused effort to reach participants with comorbid conditions.

A third, successful element is our incorporation of the social determinants of health, research and concepts derived from health disparities literature and organizations such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Our mission is to use this evidence to improve health outcomes for employees.

Finally, our program is successful because of our employees. We are an organization that recognizes we must take care of ourselves in order to take care of others.

WELCOA’s 7 Benchmarks were instrumental in building our wellness model to drive results and create value.

3.  Leadership

As a leader in wellness, my first priority is ‘walking the talk’ and living a balanced, holistic lifestyle.

I make decisions with my team and business stakeholders throughout the organization on implementing new programs and policies to reach established objectives. We consistently evaluate these initiatives to see if the data collected matches or exceeds the projected expectations (value of investment). The key to great leadership is ‘we’ not ‘I.’

I believe that mentoring is crucial for personal success. My mentors came through books, business partners and community leaders. I sought out mentors who could hold me accountable and be tough, providing real, honest and timely feedback. Sometimes you just need a little extra push!

I believe we can best support one another through networking. Nearly 70 percent of all jobs are found through networking, meaning that my next job is likely to come from someone I already know or someone with whom I might be connected with in some way.

4. Innovation

In 2012, participants were required have an annual wellness exam (60% did not have a PCP medical home)

From 2012 to 2013:

  • Participants showed lower rate of chronic disease.
  • Preventive visits increased 19%.
  • Emergency visits decreased 9%.
  • Generics increased 5%.
  • Employees making no claims decreased 77%.

In 2013, participants were required to complete an annual wellness statement.

  • Breast cancer screening claims increased from 37% in 2011 to 62% in 2013
  • Colorectal cancer screening claims increased from 42% in 2011 to 45% in 2013
  • Tobacco use decreased from 10% (self-reported by participant) in 2012 to 7% in 2013 (reported by PCPs)

In 2014, we required all participants (who did not self-report tobacco use) to be tested for nicotine during their annual wellness exam.

  • Tobacco use increased from 7% in 2013 to 8.5% in 2014. We know our rates did not increase 1.5% in one year, but because we initiated a tobacco screening process, we did catch some people who had reported to their PCP that they did not use tobacco in 2013.

5. Compelling Vision 

My goal is to be a leader who is part of the revolution to transform the health care system from one that promotes excessive costs to one that explicitly supports providers when they take steps to achieve high-quality care at lower costs.

In the next five years, N Good Health will move from incentives based on participation to “active participation.” For example, an employee will receive points and incentives based on lowering cholesterol, becoming tobacco-free or managing diabetes.

Participation in N Good Health will be a prerequisite to enroll in the richer medical insurance coverage – the Norton Healthy Living Plan versus the High-Deductible Health Plan.

We will continue to:

  • Expand efforts to infuse our culture with wellness and aim for “health-in-all policies.”
  • Educate and empower participants to make daily choices that will result in behavior change(s) and lead to improved health and well-being.
  • Strengthen our partnerships in the community. 
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Allison Ledford Individual Success Story Eating Healthy, Earn Free Meals, Have fun Fitbit Activity Tracker and Holiday Hop Challenge Departmental Success Story
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Allison L.
Allison is the director of employee wellness for the N Good Health department at Norton Healthcare. The N Good Health department focuses primarily on worksite wellness programs and initiatives with Norton Healthcare’s 12,000+ employees. Allison has been part of Norton Healthcare since 2009 and prior to that, worked with CSX Railroad as a wellness case manager and did personal training at Indiana University’s Recreational Sports facilities. She has focused the majority of her career following her passion and working with a diverse and aging population by challenging herself & team(s) to implement innovative solutions that promote positive health behavior changes within our communities. View Allison L.'s Profile.
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