Ryan Gillespie, corporate wellness manager at PPD, said some employees just aren't mentally ready or have obligations that would preclude them from committing to the challenge.
Both PPD and NHRMC have evidence that a focus on employee health can change people's lives.
Jeff Michelletti, a clinical research associate, participated in the Transformation Challenge at PPD in 2010. He started at 285 pounds.
He has dropped more than 40 pounds and recently cycled 56 miles for a PPD relay team in the 2012 B2B Triathlon.
Michelletti is visibly fitter. But his physique isn't the only part of him that has improved.
"Your work does suffer if you're not healthy," Michelletti said. "Exercise is a great stress reliever."
Albertson was asked how many NHRMC employees had lost 25 or 50 pounds.
"50 (pounds)?" he asked. "How about 100?"
Eight employees have dropped 100 pounds. You don't need a medical degree to know that life is better for those people.
They have more energy. They have more self-confidence. And they have lower medical bills.
The bottom line
Companies might have you believe that their goals are primarily altruistic, and it's hard to believe that the espoused benefits to employees are just a positive side effect of a corporate conspiracy to cut costs. But there's no doubt that the corporate wellness plans are structured with a goal of reducing the company's health care expenses.
Both NHRMC and PPD are self-insured. If their employees are scheduling fewer doctor's appointments and taking fewer prescribed medicines, the companies save money.
Gillespie estimated that every doctor's visit costs an employee two hours away from their desk. PPD's on-site clinic eliminates many routine appointments, reducing workday interruptions.
"If an employee has a deadline to meet, the last thing they want to do is spend two or three hours to go to the doctor's office," said Vanessa Cain, manager of the PPD employee health clinic.
At NHRMC, Barto is expecting to see some return on investment. It's not that he expects to deduct millions from the company's bottom line on health expenses, but he would like to see a change.
At NHRMC, medical costs hover around $36 million per year for about 9,000 insured lives (employees plus dependents).
Barto said he would like to reduce the cost by about 10 percent by the end of 2013. He estimates that the hospital is investing about half a million dollars per year in the wellness program, so a $3 million decrease would be a remarkable return.
With costs rising 7 to 10 percent annually, even a flat line in health care costs could be considered a success. Barto said NHRMC's health care expenses have remained fairly flat for the past three years.
Regardless of the monetary savings, Curran says she sees the value of the program daily.
"The ROI is in front of us every day," she said. "We can see it in the claims we didn't process; we can see it in the diabetes we didn't (need to) control."
PPD's Michelletti is living proof of the difference a corporate wellness initiative can make.
Since he started the Transformation Challenge, Michelletti has halved his cholesterol medication. On his next doctor's visit, he hopes to be cleared to stop taking his blood pressure medication altogether.
For him, that's just one more reward.
He's more focused. He looks healthier. He's more involved in the PPD culture.
"I feel 100 percent better," he said.
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