What is Optimal Me?
SF: Optimal Me is a new program to improve the health of Children's Hospital Boston employees and their families. Common sense and a number of recent national studies tell us that health problems can be avoided if we take better care of ourselves, so Children's and Tufts Health Plan developed Optimal Me as a way to support Children's employees and their families as they work to get or stay healthy. The program includes a number of really interesting and innovative components, but the first one our staff will see is the Personal Health Assessment (PHA).
Developed by Tufts Health Plan and being sent to employees' homes next month, the PHA gives Children's employees and their families an opportunity to document their current health and identify areas where they might like to improve. Children's will receive no individual results and Tufts Health Plan will treat it as confidential, like all other personal health information covered under HIPAA guidelines.
As an added bonus, those who complete it will receive a $25 American Express gift certificate.
What will the PHA include, and how will the results be used?
NL: The PHA focuses on personal and family health history, lifestyle, stress factors, nutrition, exercise and physical issues. Based on the results, we'll identify which health issues are most prevalent at Children's and offer programs to address them. Tufts Health Plan also has a number of existing health and disease management programs, ranging from screenings and health coaching to prevention activities in the areas of wellness, diet and exercise, and chronic disease support. We hope to further educate Children's staff about these programs and encourage appropriate candidates to take advantage of them to improve their health.
In addition to developing programs for the health needs of the staff in general, Children's employees will have the chance to work directly with a nurse case manager on their individual goals. This part of the program is called the Optimal Me Health Line, and it's solely dedicated to Children's staff and their families. The line will be answered by a registered nurse case manager, who will not only provide assistance in navigating the health care system, but will also provide health education and outreach to help employees meet their personal goals. One of the key areas of outreach for the nurse case manager will be the follow-up to the results of the PHA.
ĺ─˙Common sense and a number of recent national studies tell us that health problems can be avoided if we take better care of ourselves.ĺ─¨
Why is Children's partnering with Tufts Health Plan?
SF: Children's and Tufts Health Plan have a long history of working together, and this program is an outgrowth of that relationship. In talking with Tufts leadership, we were bowled over by how committed they are as an organization to helping improve the health of Children's employees and their families. They not only have the knowledge, programs, tools and personnel, they are also innovators in developing new programs like Optimal Me that cater to the needs of individuals.
On the Children's side, Susan Hancox, Children's vice president of Administration and Human Resources, has been instrumental in developing this initiative. She had a clear vision from the beginning about the type of program she felt would ultimately benefit the hospital and all its employees, and has worked closely with the Tufts leadership to ensure that vision becomes reality.
What are the benefits to Children's and Tufts Health Plan? To individual employees?
SF: Our employees are passionately committed to the health of our patients. We know and appreciate the effort it takes to fulfill this commitment, and want to offer programs that help our employees and their families get or stay healthy. We also believe a healthier staff will help keep the cost of our medical plan more affordable. This new, proactive approach will provide us with the information, support, and programs we need to put healthy living habits at the forefront, and keep us in better shape to do the work that is so vitally important to the children and families we serve. Good health not only makes sense, it's good business.
How will we know this program is working?
NL: Since this program is so new, we're still working on ways to measure its success, but we know how important it is to do so. We'll be meeting regularly over the next two months with Children's staff to develop measures that will let us know where Optimal Me has been successful, and how it can be improved.
We're really excited to be working with Children's to develop a program like this because we believe this approach combines the support, information and programs available through a health plan with the employer's interest in encouraging employees to be their healthiest. And I really think that can make a difference in the lives of Children's employees and their families.