IBM’s Wellness for Life is a comprehensive health promotion program encompassing low-risk health maintenance, risk reduction for those at high risk, consumerism, and health plan integration. It focuses on changing the company’s culture and providing employees with social supports to improve their health through online communities. The company uses a web-based strategy to reach a disbursed workforce. Benefit plan discounts and rebates are tied to active engagement in programs and risk reduction. Participation in programs is associated with lower health care cost increases for participants. There is also evidence of risk reduction associated. The program has achieved high participation rates (90,000 out of 120,000 eligible employees) and 84% of the employees completed at least one HRA over the past three years. The company has achieved smoking quit rates 22-26%, and physical activity rates have also increased.
Narrative Description of Program
The intention of IBM’s Wellness for Life program strategy is to create a culture of health that fosters long-term commitment to healthy lifestyles and reduces health risks among its 120,000 active employees. The comprehensive approach includes interventions for major risk areas such
as, physical activity, weight management, nutrition, tobacco cessation, stress management, and clinical preventive care. Healthcare demand reduction is driven by a focus on smart healthcare consumerism along with the health risk mitigation. IBM’s efforts align with many of the Healthy
People 2010 objectives in the workplace.
To encourage employees to use wellness programs and facilitate long-term adoption of healthy behaviors, IBM provides employee incentives for participation through its Healthy Living Rebate programs. IBM has awarded more than 600,000 rebates for engagement in Preventive Care, Physical Activity-Nutrition, Children’s Health, and Smoking Cessation programs.
A dedicated annual budget for wellness programming supports a staff that includes preventive medicine physicians, certified fitness and public health professionals, and skilled program managers who design and implement IBM’s wellness strategy. External experts are also engaged to enhance program design excellence, and include Dr. James Prochaska, Dr. Dee Edington, MediFit Corporate Services, SparkPeople, Weight Watchers, and Quitnet.
Strategic use of technology and creative approaches to program delivery and communications are key in impacting IBM’s increasingly dispersed employee population. A web-based platform is the locus for employee engagement in health improvement, providing access to flexible, behavior-based programming that accomplishes the following:
- helps employees determine their readiness for specific lifestyle changes (based on Prochaska’s research on stages of change and behavior change techniques),
- promotes resources to take action toward health goals based on individual stage of change,
- provides access to online communities and teams that provide social support, and
- allows users to monitor and evaluate progress against their personal wellness vision.
|Program Name||Wellness for Life|
|Company Name and Address||International Business Machines
3039 Cornwallis Rd
Durham, NC 27709
|Program Category||web-enabled, worksite-based|
|Total number of individual participants||110K|
|Number of currently actively enrolled||90K|
|Access to Program||Regular, active, IBM employees (120K).|
|Program targeted at Healthy People 2000 and/or Healthy People 2010 goals||Yes|
|Program goals (in priority order)||(1) Health risk reduction and maintenance of low risk status
(2) Enable employees to do the following(a) Adopt physically active lifestyles
(b) Achieve and maintain healthy weight
(c) Establish and maintain good nutrition
(d) Become and stay smoke-free
(e) Actively manage stress
(f) Receive recommended clinical preventive services
Narrative Description of Evaluation Results
The evaluation of Wellness for Life programs is consistent with IBM’s long standing evaluation process that incorporates experts in workplace wellness analysis, robust statistical approaches, and the consolidation and presentation of data in a meaningful way that meets company needs. Results are intended to be used both internally, for informing decision on how wellness and health benefits resources can be most efficiently applied, and externally, in peer-reviewed journals that provide evidence-based information for others.
Program Evaluation Highlights
- IBM employees who participated in Wellness for Life programs and who decreased or maintained the same health risks from 2004 to 2005 experienced lower health care cost increases than matched participants who increased their risks
- Health care cost increases from 2003 to 2005 for employees who participated in the Physical Activity Rebate program were less than matched non-participants.
- Over 270,000 health risk assessments completed by 114,000 employees between 2004 and 2007 show a 23% increase in low risk status individuals.
- The IBM employee workforce profile shows Healthy People 2010 expectations are exceeded for non-smokers (90%) and adequate physical activity (76%).
- 70% of IBM employees participate in a physical activity intervention annually. Participants report being 53% more physically active from year to year than non-participants.
- Nearly 10,000 employee smokers have participated in at least one IBM-sponsored cessation program since 2003. IBM participant quit rates have been 22-26% at 12 months, compared to 8-9% among non-participants and 12-20% as a national average for similar programs.
- Participants in the IBM web-based nutrition and weight management program showed increased healthy eating habits at 6 months (e.g., 20% less junk food, 10% more fruits/vegetables). There was a 9% increase in participants in the normal weight category at 12 months, compared to only 1% for non-participants.
Overview of Evaluation Methods
In addition to in-house expertise, the IBM wellness team strengthens their evaluation process through collaboration with experts in workplace wellness analysis including Dr. Dee Edington and his team at the University of Michigan Health Management Research Center as well as other academicians from the University of Rhode Island, Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of North Carolina, and Georgetown University.
The wellness team proactively publishes peer-reviewed articles with their collaborators that report on the program impact of specific components of the Wellness for Life program as well as cost savings.
Attention is given to the whole range of program outcomes, from program participation and reach, to health risk improvement to health status, health care costs, and utilization of health care services. In-depth analyses have focused on targeted areas, including smoking cessation rates, level of physical activity, weight management, and eating behaviors.
Given the unique challenges of working with health benefits data and evaluating employee wellness programs, robust statistical methods are leveraged to generate the most valid results. Comparisons between participants and non-participants are controlled to minimize multiple
biases, and a variety of analytical techniques allow for appropriate interpretation.
The following are verbatim remarks made by the reviewers:
- Moderately high participation 90000/120000 (75%)
- Interventions in : PA, weight management, nutrition, tobacco, stress, preventive care
- Lower HCC increases in program participants
- 70% of employees participate in PA intervention every year
- $150 rebate for 4 different initiatives
- Impressive numbers, program moderate to highly impressive.
- Comprehensive program strategy encompassing low-risk maintenance, risk reduction, consumerism, and health plan integration.
- Focus on culture and social support through online communities
- Cost reductions tied to active participation and risk reduction
- Participation in programs associated with lower health care cost increases
- Evidence of risk reduction associated with participation
- Use of outside evaluation experts and submission of claimed results to peer-review
- Strategic evolution of incentive strategy incorporating family health
- Evidence of change in health risks of participants including reduction of percent with high BMI
- Improved cost trends associated with activity participation – totaled $6.2 million savings
- Trend analysis
- Participant versus non-participant
- Excellent incentives
- JOEM publications x 3
- Big, good
- Risks down, mostly
- Probably health improvement
- Edington review and publication
- Participants: 110,000/120,000
- Participating in PA increased as a result of an incentive program
- Some evidence of risk reduction and health improvement
- Well written application.
- Good overall program.
- 75% of the population participated over the past year. Overall 84% took at least one HRA over the past 3 years. Risk reduction, demand management, healthy behaviors (mainly physical activity, nutrition, smoking and weight) featured. Incentive design could lead to $450 if each activity with a linked reward was completed. ($150 for HRA with screenings, $150 for a children’s health intervention and $150 for meeting Physical Activity requirements). New hires get $150 for HRA and screening)
- Uses web-based strategy to reach disbursed workforce.
- Increased the low risk grouping – eating improved, smoking quit rates 22-26%, and physical activity increased.
- Documented that hcc for participants was 19% lower than for non-participants.
- Looking ahead to some cohort stratification for evaluation.
- Best practice elements strong
- themes of physical activity, nutrition, smoking cessation, web-based programming
- evaluation and measurement
- lots of evaluations and articles