Ochsner Health System, Louisiana’s largest private employer, has grown significantly over the last decade to its current size of nine hospitals, 40 health centers, and a workforce of over 16,000 spread throughout Louisiana. As the hospital grew, our employee healthcare costs grew as well. In 2008, we developed a comprehensive program that motivates our employees to take part in healthy behaviors and keeps them engaged by allowing them to measure and track the progress of their behaviors. This program is managed by Employee Wellness Coordinator, Dorothy Cain, RN. Dorothy has worked in Ochsner’s Corporate Wellness Department since 2006. Dorothy’s dedication, creative approach and professional skills have helped create Ochsner’s Culture of Wellness and built a program that has maintained an 88-90% engagement level for the six years of the program’s existence and in 2013 has offered a 3.7:1 Return on Investment.
NOTE: Dorothy's peers submitted this entry. There are a few questions Dorothy had to answer on her own. Those sections are indicated.
Professional Development: (Dorothy)
I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from University of Texas in 1987. My interest in wellness and preventative health led me to pursue a career in behavioral health. As wellness programs started to emerge within the healthcare industry and at worksites I got excited and knew this was the path I wanted to pursue. I sought out and landed a position in Corporate Wellness for a large hospital system and never looked back. I have been persistent in seeking out educational opportunities and certifications in such areas as lifestyle counseling, sports nutrition and, most recently, health and wellness coaching. The classes and guidance offered through WELCOA allotted me the opportunity to become a Certified WELCOA Faculty Member. WELCOA’s, tools and professional development opportunities have been the most influential in shaping my role as a health and wellness professional.
2. Demonstrated Success (Written by Dorothy’s peers)
Ochsner Health System’s Wellness Program has offered Wellness Screenings and Education to our employees for many years. In 2008 we began to realize if we really wanted to be the leader in healthcare, get our employees healthy and reduce our own rising healthcare costs we needed a program that was more comprehensive with multiple touch points and multiple approaches. We designed and launched a fully comprehensive program called Pathway to Wellness (PTW). PTW is an activity-based corporate wellness program designed to engage and educate employees and their covered spouses in their personal health journey with the goal of improving their health and wellness while reducing overall health care costs. It is a two-part program including a Program Coordinator and the Virgin Pulse wellness portal. Corporate leadership, an active Wellness Committee, policy changes & environmental changes are the cornerstones of the program and are key factors that attribute to the participation rate and success of the program. With the full support of our Leadership we formed a System Wellness Committee comprised of role models, champions, and interested employees from all levels and departments in our hospital system. The committee began by determining areas that needed improvement, defining what was important, and creating metric criteria. This information helped form our operating plan which focused on activity and environmental changes. Dorothy realized the wellness wave was rapidly changing and new practices were constantly implemented. She wanted to make sure we were current and staying abreast of what was available in the industry. She continued her education and training including completion of the WellCoaches Program, participation in webinars recommended by WELCOA, and attended annual conferences on best practices in wellness program design. This provided her with the tools needed to optimize our program and offer us the best opportunity for success.
Dorothy was instrumental in designing the Ochsner’s Pathway to Wellness Program that includes a balanced and well integrated format of offerings designed to both measure and drive engagement.
Activity measurement is a critical part of the program and is a key part in driving engagement. The screenings and risk assessments provide data that stratify individual’s risk levels so they may enter a coaching program and be directed to the appropriate interventions. After the third and fourth year of implementation we began to see improvements in the blood pressure, body fat, and BMI of employees engaged in the program compared to employees not in the program. Additionally medical costs began to flatten.
A key driver of the success of the Pathway to Wellness Program can be attributed to Dorothy’s engagement and personal interaction with our team. Rather than just running the program from her office, Dorothy takes time to visit each site and provide onsite biometric testing and coaching to those who request her assistance. She is dedicated to her clients and truly inspires others to live a healthy lifestyle contributing to the overall success of the program. In fact, Ochsner maintains a overall 90% participation level and in 2013 demonstrated a 3.7 ROI.
3. Leadership (Written by Dorothy’s peers)
Dorothy is a great role model for healthy living by leading, coordinating and/or participating in all company health activities. She stays in shape by maintaining an exercise routine that includes weight resistance, cardio workouts, yoga and Pilates. She is very conscientious about her diet and maintains a great balance of calories consumed and calories burned. She is a natural coach, and is gentle and supportive with employees as they seek her advice.
What resources or experiences helped you achieve leadership status in your field? (Written by Dorothy)
My single biggest leadership resource has been WELCOA. The webinars and courses developed by David Hunnicutt were loaded with book recommendations and insights that were priceless. I am an avid reader and made a point to read whatever David was recommending. He truly does have his finger on the pulse of wellness.
What advice would you give other wellness practitioners who are hoping to become leaders in the field? (Dorothy)
For wellness practitioners looking to grow professionally; know that the field of wellness is in its infancy and is developing at a rapid pace, so pace yourself. Self care is essential and necessary discipline for both your personal and professional development. And, as Mahatma Gandhi so eloquently put it… Be the change you wish to see in the world.
4. Innovation (Written by Dorothy’s peers)
Dorothy and the wellness team knew that Ochsner had to be able to communicate their message electronically and have the ability to engage new and existing employees through interactive and exciting messaging. After extensive research, we partnered with an extremely innovative wellness partner, Virgin Pulse (formerly HeatlhMiles) to launch their VP interactive wellness portal. Dorothy eventually expanded the portal offerings to include My Fitness Pal and other interactive wellness messaging.
Her unique style has a way of compelling others to change the way they think. Her dedication to the success of others is if evident in her work ethic and commitment to answer every email and phone call she gets from 7,900 employees enrolled in the program. She examines every situation from the point of view of the employee, rather than from her own. This gives the employees the assurance their engagement is important and the feeling they have support.
For each innovative strategy or intervention listed what were the results/outcomes as they relate to each of the three outcomes categories below?
Health Status improvements – Ochsner’s trended biometric data including blood pressure, BMI, and Body Fat has demonstrated an improvement over the last 3 years from 2011 through 2013.
Behavior Change – Other changes include an increase in physical activity, participation in the HRA and Health Screens, as well as participation and engagement in webinars.
Culture Change – Since the program began Ochsner has made positive changes in the food and vending offered at our medical centers across the system. All fryers have been removed and healthier options are now offered. Also, healthier food options are available on the catering menu for meetings and events. Walking paths have been defined and marked at several locations, along with, onsite fitness centers at four of our medical centers. Activities have been organized and aligned with our wellness program so employees have the opportunity to be more active with their families and earn HealthMiles.
5. Compelling Vision (Dorothy)
Describe your vision for the Health Promotion industry as a whole.
Best practices for improved health and optimal wellness. As an industry we need to strive to fine tune wellness practices that benefit and serve the individual, our cultural differences, and our environment.
What are the biggest threats or opportunities that the health promotion industry faces throughout the next 5 years?
I think some of the biggest threats our health promotion industry faces are our state of health as a society and our current healthcare system. We need to be forward thinking in how preventative care is being defined and how it will be carried out across the different disciplines within that system.
In the next 5 years, what directions do you plan to pursue to advance the industry?
With LA being ranked 48th in the National Health Rankings (CDC LA State Health Statistics 2013) I would like to work to expand Ochsner’s footprint in Louisiana and work with community and state government to educate children and adults on this very important issue.