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Straight Talk
A weekly update from management on the issues that matter most.

Feb 16, 2017
Helping our entire community to become healthier starts with ourselves. I’m pleased and proud to share our the results of the NCH Road to Wellness Plan which has transformed for the better an entire team of over 6,000 colleagues, spouses, and children 26 and younger.

Over seven years ago, NCH had the typical health insurance plan which emphasized coverage for sickness and lacked proactive wellness prevention.  The NCH mission then was similar to most of today’s national healthcare—to think, act, and be reimbursed as a repair shop for disease.  We had the sad experience of having three nurses with breast cancer whose commonality was they were not getting appropriate mammography screening and therefore had bad outcomes.   Under the leadership of Chief of Human Resources Renee Thigpen and her team including Employee Health & Wellness Director Lisa Brown and Coordinator Heather Imsdahl, we started to nudge everyone to a healthier outcome. 

Among other changes we followed the U. S. Preventive Task Force’s recommended screenings for breast and colon cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and abnormal lipids (fats in the blood), as well as monitored waist circumference and Body Mass Index (BMI, a measure of obesity).  We also stopped hiring smokers and helped existing smokers to quit. 

Our Road to Wellness program’s voluntary participation rate is well over 88%.  Others are either insured by spouses or still smoke and/or refuse to undergo screening.  During the initial screening we found a surprising number of folks with undiagnosed conditions including breast and colon cancer, pre-diabetes, hypertension and metabolic syndrome (obesity).  Early discovery and prompt treatment changed prognoses for the better.  The results are outstanding with a 2% reduction in high risk BMI since 2009.  Other current very positive trends are highlighted below:

Annual comparison 2015 vs. 2016: 

2% increase in good total cholesterol

2% increase in ideal triglycerides

1% reduction in high triglycerides

6% reduction in HbA1c (measure for diabetes)

1% reduction in high risk blood pressure

Cohort (same people) comparison 2015 vs. 2016:

44.2% made positive shifts in cholesterol ratio

34.1% made positive shifts in BMI

17.6% made positive shifts in blood pressure

37.4% made positive shifts in glucose

According to the national leaders in the Blue Zones Project, we have also had among the highest annual gains in the overall Well-Being Index that is composed of purpose, social, financial, community and physical measures.  Having positive energy, being encouraged to be healthy, feeling safe and secure, and using your strengths to do what you do best everyday are just some of the positives which result in happy, engaged, and satisfied colleagues and their families.  “Still worrying about money” was the only worsening metric, which we will be addressing.  (

The costs for healthier people are less, and that makes complete sense.  NCH’s audited financials show a decrease of 54% over six years in our healthcare expenditures, resulting in a $27 million dollar saving over the past three years.  We have not raised health insurance premiums for colleagues for the past four years and, in fact, lowered them for single parents who are already economically stressed.  We have a high deductible which we encourage everyone to buy down with economic incentives such as exercising, eating well, and learning how to take better care of themselves.  We still want to improve as we change from a repair shop to a prevention program.  

Even though our community enjoys the longest life expectancy and is the healthiest and happiest metropolitan statistical area (MSA) in the nation, NCH’s mission is to share our success with our neighbors, Florida, and America.  We want everyone to live longer, happier, and healthier lives.


Allen Weiss, MD

President and CEO

You may contact Dr. Allen Weiss and The NCH Healthcare System by clicking here.