Archive for the ‘Obesity’ Category

Healthcare Business Week in Review: High Cost of Smoking; 4 Healthy Habits; Expanding Medicaid

June 13th, 2013 by Cheryl Miller

The High Cost of Smoking: Smokers cost more. That’s the bottom line from a new report from Ohio State University, the first study to take a comprehensive look at the financial burden for companies that employ smokers.

According to the study, U.S. businesses pay almost $6,000 per year extra for each employee who smokes, compared to the costs for employing workers who never smoked. Broken down, researchers estimated the following:

  • Lost productivity from smoke breaks cost employers more than $3,000 a year, by far, the largest drain on resources;
  • Extra healthcare costs for self-insured smokers came to $2,056;
  • Absenteeism from smoking cost $517 a year; and
  • Presenteeism, or reduced productivity related to the effects of nicotine addition, cost $462 annually.

The study focuses solely on economics and does not address ethical and privacy issues related to the adoption of workplace policies covering employee smoking. Increasingly, businesses have adopted tobacco-related policies that include requiring smokers to pay premium surcharges for their healthcare benefits or simply refusing to hire people who identify themselves as smokers. And while researchers acknowledge that providing smoking-cessation programs is an added cost for employers, they stress that employers recognize how difficult it is to quit smoking.

4 Healthy Habits to Reduce Heart Risk, Death: More bad news for smokers: those who otherwise maintain a healthy lifestyle will die sooner than those who do not.

According to a new study from Johns Hopkins University, exercising regularly, eating a healthy Mediterranean-style diet, maintaining a normal weight and, most importantly, not smoking can help improve heart health and reduce the risk of death.

Researchers found that adopting those four lifestyle behaviors protected against coronary heart disease as well as the early buildup of calcium deposits in heart arteries, and reduced the chance of death from all causes by 80 percent over an eight-year period.

Of all the lifestyle factors, researchers found that smoking avoidance played the largest role in reducing the risk of coronary heart disease and mortality. Smokers who adopted two or more of the healthy behaviors still had lower survival rates after 7.6 years than did nonsmokers who were sedentary and obese.

The findings corroborate recent recommendations by the American Heart Association, which call for maintaining a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains and fish, keeping a Body Mass Index (BMI) of less than 25, being physically active and not smoking, researchers note.

Expanding Medicaid Best Option for States: Some bad news, or food for thought, for those policymakers not planning on expanding Medicaid in their states: they will leave millions of their residents without health insurance and increase spending, at least in the short term, on the cost of treating uninsured residents, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

If 14 states decide not to expand Medicaid under the ACA as intended by their governors, those state governments collectively will spend $1 billion more on uncompensated care in 2016 than they would if Medicaid is expanded, researchers say. In addition, those 14 state governments would forgo $8.4 billion annually in federal payments and an additional 3.6 million people will be left uninsured.

States that do not expand Medicaid will not receive the full benefit of the savings that will result from providing less uncompensated care, researchers note. But they will be subject to taxes, fees and other revenue provisions of the ACA.

Commercial Payors Lag Behind Medicare in Offering ACOs: And lastly, commercial payors aren’t offering as many upside-only payment structures that are most popular among early accountable care organizations (ACOs), according to an analysis by the Premier Healthcare Alliance.

The study of 85 payor arrangements found that more than one-third were for upside-only shared savings, most of which fall within the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) or Medicare Advantage (57 percent).

Other upside-only options were reported with Medicaid (7 percent), provider-owned plans (7 percent) and self-insured employers (7 percent).

However, upside arrangements are lacking in commercial markets. Among the ACOs analyzed, only 21 percent of commercial arrangements offer upside shared savings, and these were clustered in just four markets. In addition, agreements tended to be smaller in scope, usually for 5,000 covered lives or less.

Meet Nurse Turned Health Coach Jeaneen Mullenhard: Moving from Fixing Disease to Preventing it

June 7th, 2013 by Cheryl Miller


This month’s inside look at a health coach, the choices she made on the road to success, and the challenges ahead.

Jeaneen Mullenhard, MSN, FNP-BC, CHC, CWC, owner of Fundamentally Healthy Coaching Program, specializing in weight loss and diabetes

HIN: What was your first job out of college and how did you get into health coaching?

(Jeaneen Mullenhard): I was a late bloomer. I got my original nursing diploma from the Maryland General Hospital School of Nursing. My first job after that was at St. Agnes Hospital on a medical surgical unit. I worked as a registered nurse (RN) in a host of different fields for about 20 years before I went back to college. I did inpatient, outpatient, insurance physicals, chart reviews; I was a legal nurse’s consultant, and a school health nurse. I also did pediatrics and ran pediatric free-standing urgent-care centers for a little while.

When I went back to college, at Bowie State University, I did an RN and MSN program, and received my family nurse practitioner (FNP) degree. My first job out of college was officially as an FNP with the Minute Clinic, one of the nationwide retail health clinics owned currently by CVS Pharmacies.

Every job I’ve ever had has taught me something. The one thing that really stood out to me as I progressed and moved forward in my FNP career was that it always seemed like we were chasing the cart. And by that I mean, always running to stamp out disease, never preventing it.

One of my more recent FNP jobs was for a national company that provides onsite healthcare clinics to some major self-insured employers. I was the clinical quality manager, and helped develop guidelines and protocols for the company on a nationwide basis. They were developing a health and wellness program, which is how I got exposed to health coaching. They sent me to Wellcoaches to learn about it, and I helped them develop 17 health and wellness coaching programs for their clinics. I thought, “I’ve only fixed disease, I’ve never prevented it before. That’s an interesting concept.” So it was a real eye opener for me, because I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to learn. I found that there was a tremendous amount to learn. And it actually helped me make changes in my own life.

Have you received any health coaching certifications? If so, please list these certifications

Because of my medical background and FNP degree I received both a Certified Wellness Coach and Certified Health Coach certification.

Has there been a defining moment in your career, perhaps when you knew you were on the right road?

The defining moment would have to be, as far as health coaching is concerned, when I participated in the Coach the Coach program at Wellcoaches. They pair coaches, so I had one of them coach me, and then I coached a different coach. Receiving that coaching has really been very important to me, because it helped me to keep myself well, focused and on track so that I’m better able to help my clients. And I see the difference in my own coaching, in how I approach things.

How has your medical background impacted your coaching?

For one, I don’t have to ask a lot of questions. I understand why people are saying, ‘I have this, and my doctor said that.’ But one of the drawbacks to having a medical background is, having done it so long, it is very hard not to flip and be the expert as opposed to the coach. I sometimes have to sit on my hands, bite my tongue and not say, “Really, this is how you need to do this.” Coaching is client-focused. Now I’m finding that I don’t want to be the person with all the answers. I want to help other people find their own answers that are going to work for them.

In brief, describe your organization.

I founded Fundamentally Healthy about a year ago. I specialize in helping people with weight loss, weight management and diabetes lifestyle management. It’s a single-person practice, with offices in both Severna Park and Stevensville in Maryland. I do some group coaching in my Diabetes Free Zone program, which is part of Diabetes Free America, where I help serve my diabetic clients and get everybody to share and open up, and it has worked very well. I also offer individual coaching, and some Medicare Wellness services. Now that Medicare has begun to cover those services, this will hopefully lead the way for other insurers to start looking at wellness services and coaching as a covered benefit. I also do independent health coaching for Take Shape for Life, a lifestyle management program focusing primarily on weight loss with some meal replacements, but mostly learning lifestyle changes, dietary changes, eating patterns as well as exercise, sleep and stress management.

What are two or three concepts or rules that you follow in health coaching?

First, that it’s a very safe zone. In order to really explore where your vision lies, and to really get down to basics, you have to be able to be honest with yourself. I tell my clients that it’s okay, no matter what they say, it’s more important to get it out there just so that they can hear or see it.

Second, that it’s also a positive zone. Everything should be focused on the positive. There are negatives that happen in our lives, and it’s important to aknowledge them, but it’s more important to focus on the positives.

What is the single most successful thing that your company is doing now?

Right now, my company is doing a lot of community outreach to get the message out about what coaching is and how it can benefit anyone, no matter how young or how old you are. Not a lot of people in our area (rural to suburban on Maryland’s Eastern Shore) know about health coaching. It’s a relatively new concept. Most people think it’s personal training. So I’m doing a lot of community outreach and free seminars, going to various community groups and speaking to them about health coaching.

What is the single most effective workflow process, tool or form that you are using in coaching today?

My most effective process is frequent communication. I conduct weekly coaching sessions with most of my clients. And I typically touch base with them via email twice in between sessions just to let them know that the support is there if they need it. If they’re feeling challenged, they can email. If it’s an emergency, they can call. I want them to know that it’s not a once a week, one hour thing, it’s something they have to work at all the time and it doesn’t matter if it’s morning, night, there’s a link via email to connect with someone who is there to support them.

Do you see a trend or path you have to lock on for 2013?

With Medicare opening up and offering more wellness services, particularly obesity prevention services, that’s going to be a big impetus to get the wellness initiatives out there. And for 2013 the biggest thing is going to be about the resources available to promote those wellness initiatives.

What is the most satisfying thing about being a health coach?

For me the most satisfying thing is that I have an opportunity to work with people who truly are interested, invested and engaged in improving their health. I work part-time at an urgent care walk-in center and sometimes the only thing those clients are engaged with right then is: ‘Make my fever go away, make my head stop hurting, make my ear stop hurting, make the cough go away.’ It’s not about the underlying symptoms, how to get there. So it’s very nice to see that people are really interested in prevention, that they’re interested in making changes, that they’re invested in that.

What is the greatest challenge in health coaching and how are you working to overcome this challenge?

The greatest challenge right now is that private health coaching is not covered by insurance. I have recently engaged in dialogue with a physician who is a former deputy state health director. She is working with the state health insurance exchanges about the value of health coaching and having it included as part of those insurance exchange plans. I’m very excited about that.

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Baltimore, Maryland. My father was in the military, so we moved around a little bit. But home has always really been in the Maryland area.

What college did you attend?

I got my masters degree from Bowie State University in Bowie Maryland.

Is there a moment from that time that stands out?

Just that I survived, because I was an adult learner when I went to college. I had two teenaged daughters and a full time job.

Are you married and do you have children?

I am married to the same man for the last 30 years and I have two adult daughters. One is a physical therapist and my oldest daughter is married with two little boys, so I have two grandchildren.

What is your favorite hobby and how did it develop in your life?

Recently people have asked me that same question, and I always tell them my hobby is working. I don’t really have a hobby, to be honest. I’m one of those people who doesn’t like the grass to grow under her feet. So I do a lot of volunteer work. I am on the Anne Arundel County (Maryland) Obesity Prevention subcommittee, I am the treasurer for the Maryland Academy of Advanced Practice Clinicians, and I’m a member of various professional and civic organizations that do a lot of volunteer work. So my hobby is working.

Is there a book you recently read or a movie you saw that you would recommend?

The most recent movie that I saw that I would highly recommend was Lincoln. It was very well done and it was very nice to see our forefathers actually taking a few minutes and having some very reflective thoughts.

Any additional comments?

It’s a matter of moving forward. I really enjoy what I do and I love the opportunity to be able to get information out about health coaching, and about the value of it to our communities.

Infographic: The Cost of Obesity

May 15th, 2013 by Patricia Donovan

Designed to shed light on the national epidemic of obesity, this infographic from the School of Public Health & Health Services at George Washington University illustrates the financial impact of obesity on U.S. communities and the overall economy, preventive measures the nation can take to positively affect change at a national level, and three key programs that are getting results.

Cost of Obesity

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You may also be interested in this related resource: 2013 Healthcare Benchmarks: Health Coaching.

Infographic: 10 Companies Helping People Live Longer

May 7th, 2013 by Patricia Donovan

Everyone wants to live a long and healthy life, but sometimes eating healthier, hitting the gym, quitting smoking, and reducing life stress just isn’t enough. Most people ned support from family and friends, and from programs and technologies designed to support health improvement.

This infographic from the Best BSN-to-MSN Web site highlights 10 companies that are helping Americans to live longer lives with contributions like retail clinics that provide accessible and inexpensive healthcare; surgical systems that foster shorter hospital stays, quicker recoveries and faster return to normal daily activities; creative programs that focus on early diagnosis, drug discovery and prevention; combatting childhood obesity by providing nutritional education program to schools, and many others.

10 Companies Helping People Live Longer

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You may also be interested in this related resource: Guide to Population Health Management.

Infographic: Weight of the Union 2013

March 22nd, 2013 by Patricia Donovan

Weight of the Union 2013, an infographic from Anytime Health, examines the macro-implications of obesity on the nation’s health. This graphic not only defines the program, but suggests a treatment program to reverse this unhealthy trend, including the recruitment of food and beverage brands to make and market healthier products and the increased access to locally grown food in restaurants and supermarkets.

Weight of the Union 2013

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You may also be interested in this related resource: 38 Disease Management Metrics: Population Health Benchmarks to Drive Accountable Care.

7 High-Impact Ideas to Prioritize Prevention

February 22nd, 2013 by Jessica Fornarotto

Reimbursement for prevention efforts and employer engagement are among seven high-impact recommendations from the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) to prioritize prevention and improve the health of Americans.

“A Healthier America 2013: Strategies to Move from Sick Care to Health Care in Four Years”, a new TFAH report, illustrates the importance of taking innovative approaches and building partnerships with a wide range of sectors in order to be effective.

The report outlines top policy approaches to respond to studies that show that more than half of Americans are living with one or more serious, chronic diseases, a majority of which could have been prevented; and also that today’s children could be on track to be the first in U.S. history to live shorter, less healthy lives than their parents.

The seven recommendations documented in the report are:

  1. Advance the nation’s public health system by adopting a set of foundational capabilities, restructuring federal public health programs and ensuring sufficient, sustained funding to meet these defined foundational capabilities;
  2. Ensure insurance providers reimburse for effective prevention approaches both inside and outside the doctor’s office;
  3. Integrate community-based strategies into new healthcare models, such as by expanding ACOs into accountable care communities;
  4. Work with nonprofit hospitals to identify the most effective ways they can expand support for prevention through community benefit programs;
  5. Maintain the prevention and public health fund and expand the community transformation grant program so all Americans can benefit;
  6. Implement all recommendations for each of the 17 federal agency partners in the National Prevention Strategy; and
  7. Encourage all employers, including federal, state and local governments, to provide effective, evidence-based workplace wellness programs.

“A Healthier America” also features more than 15 case studies from across the country that show the report’s recommendations in action.

The report also includes recommendations for a series of 10 key public health issues: reversing the obesity epidemic; preventing tobacco use and exposure; encouraging healthy aging; improving the health of low-income and minority communities; strengthening healthy women and healthy babies; reducing environmental health threats; enhancing injury prevention; preventing and controlling infectious diseases; prioritizing health emergencies and bioterrorism preparedness; and fixing food safety.

Infographic: Transportation and Health Status

December 7th, 2012 by Melanie Matthews

Walkable, bikable, transit-oriented communities are associated with healthier populations, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s infographic “Better Transportation Options = Healthier Lives.”

Other infographic highlights:

  • Public transit users walk an average of 19 minutes getting to and from public transportation;

  • Countries with lower rates of obesity tend to have higher rates of commuters who walk or bike to work; and

  • The risk of obesity increases 6 percent with every additional mile spent in the car, and decreases 5 percent with every kilometer walked.

    Transportation and Health Status

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Infographic: The Global Childhood Obesity Epidemic

September 28th, 2012 by Melanie Matthews

Globally one in 10 children are obese, but the epidemic is not getting the attention it deserves, according to new metrics by GLOBALHealthPR, which measured the online conversation rates for childhood obesity.

An infographic by GLOBALHealthPR analyzes online conversation rates for childhood obesity compared with other diseases.

The Global Childhood Obesity Epidemic

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