3 Questions Featured

8:00pm EDT May 26, 2010


Barry Arbuckle is president and CEO of MemorialCare Health Systems, which has reported annual revenue of more than $1.6 billion. Under his leadership, MemorialCare has been recognized as one of the 100 Most Integrated Health Systems and Best Governed Hospital System. He is board chair of National Healthcare Services, MemorialCare’s for-profit arm that targets health care equity investments.

Q. How can businesses encourage employees to adopt healthy lifestyles?

It’s amazing how many simple things there are to get people to not only think about the immediate choice at hand but also to have them begin to think about their food choices or health care choices. One thing that impacted me, and such a simple thing, is at our cafeteria, there are signs that highlight the difference in calorie counts between two choices. Sometimes employees don’t know that one option is healthier than another.

Healthier choices in meetings and the cafeteria are critically important. It’s easy to fall back on old habits. I cringe when I walk into a presentation and people are eating pastries and bacon. More often than not, if you change the food that is offered, some people will raise an eyebrow, but they’ll still eat breakfast and you’ll start to change the way they think about their own food habits.

Q. How can businesses ensure their work force accepts health care that is offered?

Employers should feel free to use more of their local health care providers to help educate their employee population about the importance of health care coverage. It may be easier, working with those local providers, to have access to some of diagnostic screening and health screening.

Q. What’s the best way to start a low- to no-cost wellness program?

You could contract with a personal trainer to come in to a conference room and have yoga classes, stretching classes, to get people interested and take it from there. Tapping the local hospitals and clinics to bring in someone for screenings can also help to get people motivated. I’ve seen companies offer subsidies to join health clubs and fitness centers or give people a cheap pedometer to keep track of walking. All of those little things can help people start to focus on their health.