HARTFORD, Conn. – The best coaches are flexible enough to offer different strategies for success based on the people they assist. Aetna (NYSE: AET) recently enhanced its Healthy Lifestyle Coaching (HLC) program to give both employers and employees this type of flexibility in a wellness program.
The enhancements to the HLC program aim to build on successful results the program has already achieved. Aetna research of 80 employers who used the HLC program found that these employers had a 150 percent return on investment from reduced medical and pharmacy costs, decreased absenteeism and improved productivity. This research also found that employees who participated in the program had health improvements in a number of different areas:
- 55 percent of program participants exercised more
- 54 percent of program participants lost weight
- 51 percent of program participants reduced stress
“We understand that employers have unique needs with a wellness program, and so do their employees,” said Susan Kosman, R.N., chief nursing officer for Aetna. “The HLC program doesn’t steer the employer or employee to use one solution. Instead, we look at all the different ways we can engage and empower employees to improve their health. These improvements can then increase productivity and lower health care costs for their employer.”
Helping Employees Achieve Their Health Goals
Aetna uses a variety of coaching methods within the HLC program. Employees can receive one-to-one phone coaching or participate in group coaching with other employees. They can also access coach-supported online lifestyle communities developed by CaféWell. The social networks give participants peer to peer support from other Aetna members who want to make similar health changes.
“Many people respond well to one-to-one coaching. However, we know that many others find success in a group setting, or when they can share the experience with people through social communities,” Kosman said. “Providing several different coaching options gives members the best chance of improving their health.”
Members can also receive incentives for meeting certain milestones with their coaches through all of these programs.
All Healthy Lifestyle Coaching program options are mindfulness-based, expanding Aetna’s use of mindfulness techniques in wellness programs. Aetna previously worked with Duke Integrative Medicine and eMindful to test two mind-body stress reductions programs – Mindfulness at Work™ (mindfulness meditation) and Viniyoga Stress Reduction (therapeutic Viniyoga). Available to commercial employers, these programs have been proven to help participants significantly reduce their perceived stress levels while improving their ability to respond to stress.
More than 400 employers are currently using the HLC program. The enhancements to the HLC program options let employers choose the approach that will best help their specific employee population while fitting their business needs. The four options available to employers through the HLC program are:
- Healthy Lifestyle Coaching – The most comprehensive option gives employees the option of focusing on general health improvements, stress management, weight management or tobacco cessation.
- Healthy Lifestyle Coaching Lite – A lower-cost option where employees can participate in a 12-week group coaching program that meets every two weeks. Members also complete “homework assignments” between sessions. One-to-one phone coaching is not available with this option.
- Healthy Lifestyle Coaching Healthy Weight – Focused on weight management, this option identifies potential participants through results from a health risk assessment or other clinical indicators.
- Healthy Lifestyle Coaching Tobacco Free – This option is designed to help employees quit tobacco dependence.
The HLC programs are available to Aetna’s National Accounts, Middle Markets and Public & Labor employer customers. Employers can receive comprehensive reports on employee participation and outcomes on a quarterly basis through all of these programs.
Aetna is one of the nation’s leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving approximately 37.3 million people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental, behavioral health, group life and disability plans, and medical management capabilities, Medicaid health care management services and health information technology services. Aetna’s customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, health care providers, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates. For more information, see www.aetna.com