Belva Denmark Tibbs has worked with Kaiser Permanente for 21 years and is the vice president of medical operations for Kaiser Permanente in the Ohio region. She is responsible for 1,200 employees, 11 facilities and a $160 million budget. Together with her physician partner, she is also responsible for providing quality care and service to more than 125,000 Ohio Permanente Medical Group members.
Q. How do you get employees to buy in to a health and wellness program?
We have employed multiple media to communicate the program, including e-mail, snail mail, voice mail, posters, Web site, newsletters and video. Employee buy-in requires a multiple-pronged approach, starting with visible involvement from the top leaders. As leaders, our support, participation and most important visible modeling of healthy behaviors are essential to moving the organization toward a healthy culture. Based on Dee Edington’s book, ‘Zero Trends: Health as a Serious Economic Strategy,’ we encourage everyone to start where you are. We ask employees to understand and maintain their current state of health and then make incremental improvements through a variety of activities.
Q. What are some effective ways to monitor for results?
In addition to monitoring the use of the Web site, number of interactions with the health coach and completion of the health risk assessment, we also track attendance records, utilization statistics and employee satisfaction survey results to determine the effectiveness of the program.
Q. How early can you expect to see a return on investment?
We expect to see sustainable results within the next three years. A recent report, ‘Building an Effective Health & Productivity Framework’ from Watson Wyatt states that: ‘Companies with the most effective health and productivity programs have superior financial returns and productivity improvements.’ Research also reflects that organizations can typically expect to see a return in a three- to five-year time frame. Most of the research has been based on large employers. A recent meta-analysis found that medical costs fall by about $3.27 and absenteeism costs fall by about $2.73 for every dollar spent.