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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wellness Gizmos & Gadgets: New HealthKit App from Apple

As everyone knows by now, Apple fans are swarming to buy the company's latest version of the iPhone: more than 10 million units were sold in the first three days they were available. What you may not have heard is that Apple has also launched a feature for app developers that could be revolutionary for wellness: HealthKit.

From the Apple website:
HealthKit allows apps that provide health and fitness services to share their data with the new Health app and with each other. A user's health information is stored in a centralized and secure location and the user decides which data should be shared with your app.
Imagine recording your heart rate using the Apple Watch, then storing that information for use by all your health apps. Pretty cool!

We still need to consider privacy and HIPAA-compliance, of course, but I think this is the wave of the future. Monitoring your health could become as easy texting or checking Facebook, using a device you're already familiar with.

What do you think? Is wellness ready for this kind of technology?

Monday, September 22, 2014

CVS Health Goes Tobacco-Free: #OneGoodReason

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, accounting for more than 480,000 deaths each year (one of every five deaths), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As you may have heard, CVS Health will soon halt the sale of tobacco products in their stores nationwide. They've also launched a social media campaign (#OneGoodReason), asking the public to share why they've chosen to be tobacco-free. We encourage you to take part.

We've said for years that wellness makes good business sense, and clearly CVS agrees. It's why so many of our clients make tobacco cessation part of their comprehensive wellness programs.

So, what is your reason for living tobacco-free?

Leave a comment below or tweet @corpwellness using the hashtag #OneGoodReason.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Wellness Corporate Solutions Named Healthiest Employer

For the second year in a row, the Washington Business Journal has named Wellness Corporate Solutions (WCS) one of the healthiest employers in the Washington, D.C. area. Among small business with 2-99 employees, WCS placed first.

Enjoy the video below, featuring several WCS employees and our unstoppable Chief Wellness Officer and co-founder, Juliet Rodman!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

EEOC Sues Employer Over Wellness Penalty

We blogged last July about the final rules for wellness incentives, which set specific guidelines around rewards and penalties. Most employers are on board and understand their obligations, but at least one is not.

According to the United Benefits Advisors blog, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is suing a Wisconsin company for requiring employees to participate in its wellness program or face a 100% penalty. That's not a typo: participate in the wellness program and the company pays 100% of your insurance premium. Opt out and you get nothing.

The rules clearly state that penalties are limited to 30% of the cost of coverage -- unless the penalty is based on tobacco use, in which case the threshold rises to 50%.

This case underscores the importance of working with a wellness vendor who knows the law. The stakes are simply too high to go it alone. Let an expert help you design an incentive program that is legal and sustainable over the long term.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hospital Systems in Need of Wellness (Part 1)

We came across an interesting white paper recently that focuses on the challenges facing hospital systems when it comes to wellness. You can download it here (PDF). Ironically, hospital employees are less healthy and consume more health care services than average workers.

The paper lists ten recommendations for creating a culture of wellness -- tips that could be useful for any organization. I encourage you to take a closer look.

WCS has performed biometric screenings for a number of large hospital systems, and I can tell you that their needs are unique. Hospital employees are incredibly busy and work nonstandard shifts, so we have to adjust our screening model accordingly. In some cases, we've set up mobile screening units that our staff take from floor to floor, screening as they go. Flexibility is key.

You might ask why a hospital system even needs a screening vendor. After all, it's a hospital! Well, there are many reasons, and that will be the subject of Part 2. Stay tuned!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Wellness Incentives: A National Soda Tax?

A few weeks ago, Mark Bittman penned an op-ed in the New York Times about a possible national tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. Realistically, the bill has little chance of passing, but Bittman argues that it's necessary to curb sugar consumption. People simply need a financial incentive to make better choices.

We talk a lot about incentives in the wellness world, and for good reason. They're essential. Especially in the first year of a comprehensive wellness program, it's important to offer an incentive that will motivate employees to participate. Your strategy can change over time, moving from tangible incentives (cash, gift cards, etc.), to premium discounts, to outcomes-based incentives that are tied to insurance premiums.

As Bittman points out, requiring calorie counts on restaurant menus was considered far-fetched just a few years ago. Now it's commonplace. So who knows? Maybe a national tax on sugar isn't as unlikely as it seems.