SOURCE: incentaHEALTH

incentaHEALTH

December 08, 2010 09:00 ET

incentaHEALTH Finds Better Way to Fight Employee Obesity While Reducing Employer Health Care Costs

Workplace Kiosks Screen and Measure Employee Health, Emails Motivate Increased Participation and Success Is Met by Cash Rewards

DENVER, CO--(Marketwire - December 8, 2010) - Like the scale in the doctor's office, the numbers can be daunting. Similarly, the statistics that reveal an increasingly overweight America -- 67 percent and rising -- are sending shivers down the spine of this nation's health care system, especially in corporate America where the costs of keeping employees healthy are threatening both the bottom line and the country's economic future.

Today it costs employers an estimated $13,000 annually to provide premium health care benefits for a typical employee and his or her dependents, and that figure has gone up 10 percent each year for the past decade. Of that annual amount, almost $10,000 is paid by the employer. 

In an attempt to stem the tide, Denver-based incentaHEALTH has focused on one of the biggest drivers of health care costs: obesity. Overweight and obese employees incur over $1,500 in additional costs for the employer each year. In response, incentaHEALTH has developed a unique program that pays employees and their families to lose weight, stay healthy and remain productive. Blending technology, ingenuity, medical expertise, and employer resources, it is designed to encourage greater participation by employees in typical company health plans.

According to Todd McGuire, Chief Technology Officer, who co-founded the company in 2002 with CEO Jack Rule, the idea for incentaHEALTH was developed after discovering that among the most pressing issues facing the business world at the time were runaway health care costs and obesity.

"In 2002 we weren't happy with the wellness programs used by the rest of the industry, so we created our own," McGuire said. "Our technology authenticates health outcomes instead of relying on people to self-report. Since we are paying cash incentives, you don't want somebody to send a friend down to weigh in for them."

The centerpiece of the incentaHEALTH system is the patented HEALTHspot kiosk which, when strategically placed throughout a company's facilities, provides:

  • Automated biometric measurements of weight, blood pressure and body mass index (BMI) using authenticated measurements (not self-reported)
  • Instant feedback to participants and program administrators
  • 24-hour, low cost operation and remote maintenance
  • Enhanced privacy
  • Full-body digital imaging to keep track of participant progress and create a visual progress report
  • Complete and accurate electronic records for both employee and employer

Supporting the kiosks, the program uses a variety of communication tools to reach all employees and motivate them to participate. Says McGuire, "Behavior change is a daily battle. It won't occur with an occasional newsletter. A better approach is a daily coaching plan using emails and text messages that shows employees and their dependents exactly how to eat and exercise." The program incorporates onsite kickoff sessions and printed support materials to reach employees without email access.

"The national view of health and wellness has matured significantly since we started our business," said McGuire. "After extensive research of the problem and conducting surveys of the workforce, the wellness industry has found that people are inactive, overweight, have high blood pressure and are not eating properly. Employers are now demanding programs that result in real behavioral changes to tackle these issues."

"Historically, employers have offered $50 to employees just to sign up for a wellness program, whether they used it or not," he added. "What we do is shift from an incentive for participating to an incentive for measured performance. For example, if an employee signs up for our program and achieves a 15 percent weight loss, they will get paid, in actual dollars on a brightly colored check, when they weigh in at the HEALTHspot kiosk every 90 days." The program pays incentives ranging from $15 to $150 per quarter to all employees based on the amount of weight they lose, so every level of success is rewarded.

So far, the incentaHEALTH approach to corporate wellness is working. Organizations across the globe are signing up -- companies like Jackson National Life Insurance Co., Virginia Tech, Kaiser Permanente, Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, Accident Fund Insurance Company of America, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and others that are concerned about their employees' health.

"incentaHEALTH has become an integral part of our overall wellness program, which helps our associates make healthier lifestyle choices," said Cheng Hsu, benefits manager at Jackson National.

And users are noticing a big difference in their health.

"I've lost 70 pounds on this program. I am now eating healthy, watching my portion sizes and exercising," said one employee participant. "It was a true godsend."

About incentaHEALTH
incentaHEALTH is an innovative health care technology company based in Denver, Colorado. incentaHEALTH's fully outsourced, employee weight management program is designed to help organizations reduce their health care costs by offering incentives to employees for improving their health. This is achieved by helping employees manage their weight through the use of interactive email coaching, workplace weigh-ins on private kiosks, and cash rewards for maintaining long term health improvements. For more information, visit www.incentahealth.com.

Contact Information

  • Media Contact:
    Les Goldberg
    Lages & Associates
    (949) 453-8080
    les@lages.com