Sally Stephens has more than a dozen years of experience in nursing, diabetes education and case management through her work at hospitals in the Indianapolis area. As founder, owner and president of Spectrum Health Systems, Stephens has dedicated the remainder of her career to creating positive changes in employee health and American business. Stephens is a board member for the Indianapolis chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners.
Q. What is the first step in creating a wellness program?
The biggest thing is for the employer to look at what their objectives are for a wellness program. Do they want to have a value-added benefit that’s 100 percent voluntary and they just hope that people participate or [does] an employer want to aggressively manage and control their overall health care costs?
Q. Who should an employer look to for help in creating a program?
There are companies that that’s what they do to help an employer from a strategic standpoint to develop wellness programs that are designed to meet their goals, their business goals and then also be results driven. It’s much easier for them to look for a third-party provider to help them do that; there’s a lot of reasons why that’s a value to them because of confidentiality. Employees are likely to participate if they know that their information is really confidentially kept with a third party.
Q. What should employers know in terms of confidentiality?
HIPAA laws and the Americans with Disabilities Act … really require that you can provide incentives based on participation but not on health status. You have to design things very carefully so you’re not penalizing somebody or you’re not discriminating against people because of their health status. We’re trying to move away from the mindset of ‘You, employer, it’s none of your business on how I manage my health,’ to a place where the manager says, ‘Yeah, I don’t want to know the details, but I want you to manage your health and so I’m willing to step in and financially encourage you to manage your health.’