Wellness Edition, Number 1

In This Issue


Welcome to a special Wellness Edition of CHOICES! In this issue, we will focus on wellness in an effort to educate you about the resources available and practical ways to improve the health of your employees. Partnering with you, we can encourage healthier lifestyles and control costs with wellness programs that work.

Create a Culture of Wellness

A wellness program in your practice should begin with a strong and supportive foundation. A foundation that is comprehensive and consistent with your message of wellness. We encourage you to educate your employees about the resources available through the NCMS Plan and its plan administrator (BCBSNC), but also consider some of these very practical ideas for creating a culture of wellness in your workplace.

Tobacco-Free Workplace

As a healthcare provider, your practice shares a common goal with the NCMS Plan, the goal of promoting health and well-being. A great way to achieve this goal is to implement a tobacco-free workplace policy at your own practice. Here are just a few benefits to becoming a tobacco-free practice:

  • Easier for your employees to speak with patients at every visit about quitting their use of tobacco products.
  • Employees take fewer sick days
  • Help employees quit using tobacco products

Becoming a tobacco-free practice overnight may not be the best approach. Consider a planned approach that may span up to twelve months to reach the ultimate goal of 100% tobacco-free. There are a wealth of free resources available to assist you and your employees.

Start with http://www.medicalmutualgroup.com/mmic/media/pdf/wellness_resources/Wellness101_Chapter6_Tobacco.pdf. There are descriptions of brochures, posters, and other promotional materials and programs that directly address tobacco cessation. We can assist you with obtaining any of the materials described.

Then visit Quit Now NC! for model policies and a template for a 12-month timeline to a tobacco-free practice. This site specifically targets healthcare facilities, so it is particularly relevant.

Healthy Vending Options

Do you have a vending machine in your office filled with potato chips, candy bars, and pastries? How about soda machines with sugar-filled soft drinks?

Creating a culture of wellness requires changes both large and small. Studies show that when given healthy options, employees are more likely to make changes in their diet and lifestyle. Try adding light juices, flavored waters and only diet soft drinks. If that's too drastic, perhaps you can work with your vending service to price the products in such a way that encourages healthier choices. Price the waters and light juices less than the soft drinks.

What about the snacks? How about Peppermint Patties instead of Snickers bars? 100-Calorie snack packs of Oreos instead of a whole package? The NCMS Plan has compiled a list of healthy vending alternatives for you to share with your vending machine operators. Visit http://www.medicalmutualgroup.com/mmic/media/pdf/wellness_resources/Approved_Vending_List.pdf for more suggestions for vending alternatives.

And don't forget about the pharmaceutical and other sales representatives that so generously bring lunch and snacks for you and your employees. Don't be shy about asking them to take your "culture of wellness" into account when providing food.

Policies that Support Wellness

Hired a new employee lately? One of the first things you probably did was sit them down and review your practice's employee handbook and policies. How great would it be if from the outset your employees understood how important their health is to you, their employer, and the impact their health has on the practice and their fellow team members.

One policy that can easily be modified to highlight your practice's emphasis on health and wellness is your leave policy. What types of leave are acceptable under your current policy? Vacation, sick, and bereavement leave are common, but what about wellness leave. In a formal policy, consider allowing, and even encouraging, employees to take wellness leave for their annual physical exams including colonoscopies, mammograms, and routine physicals. Perhaps it's simply another way employees can use the sick leave they already accrue. Sure, it may be more time out of the office, but the benefits of a well employee far outweigh the short term loss of time on the job. You may be surprised how many employees do not get the check ups they should because they do not feel it is supported by their employer or that it could be an unacceptable use of leave.

Online Health Assessments: The Best Way to Start

We all know how important it is to make healthy lifestyle choices. We know we should eat well and exercise, and that by doing so we can feel better, be more energetic, and even live longer. But how do we know where to start? Having a good understanding of your current health and wellness is the first step. That is why the NCMS Plan has partnered with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina to bring you and your employees an online Health Assessment. This is a free and confidential assessment. Every employee that is covered by the NCMS Plan is eligible, as well as any family members over the age of 18 who are covered by the Plan.

So what is an online Health Assessment and why should you take it and encourage your employees to do the same? The health assessment will help you learn more about your health and steps you can take to improve it. You will be asked simple questions about your health history and daily choices and when you are done, you’ll instantly receive a personalized assessment of your health, information about potential risk factors, a preventive screening schedule, nutrition and fitness guidelines and tips to kick-start your overall plan for better health. You will be asked if you would like to join Member Health Partnership or Online Healthy Living programs. In addition, you will receive 1,000 BluePoints ($10 equivalent) which are redeemable for merchandise, gift cards or can be donated to charity. In future Wellness Editions of CHOICES we'll introduce you to Member Health Partnerships, Online Healthy Living programs, and BluePoints.

So what are you waiting for? In just twenty minutes you can have your results!

Ready to get started? Log onto http://www.bcbsnc.com/ and register if you have not already done so. Once on the Member Services webpage, look for “Health Programs” and you will see the link called “Take a personal health survey.” Click the blue bar to start your questionnaire.

By offering a health assessment to your employees, you are supporting a healthy lifestyle. In order to increase employee participation, you may want to offer an incentive for taking the assessment during a specific time period. Consider challenging your employees to meet a 90% Health Asssessment participation rate in a 30-day period and reward them with a healthy lunch.

As an employer, you will be showing your employees that you value their commitment to well being and are taking steps to encourage healthy living.

Your employees' health assessment responses are confidential. As an employer, you will not have access to individual employee results. Health Assessment results are not used to determine insurance rates or eligibility for coverage. When 50 or more employees from a single employer take the Health Assessment, the employer can see a snapshot of the health status of the practice. These practices receive a group report which contains an overview and summary of prevalent risk factors among employees. Individual results are not shared.

Knowledge is power! Increase your awareness of your own personal health status and risk factors. Take the steps to live a healthier life and utilize free health resources! Log on now and make the commitment to impact your health and well being.

About the North Carolina Medical Society

As the largest physician organization in the state, the North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) is devoted to representing the interests of physicians and protecting the quality of patient care. The NCMS Plan, sponsored by the NCMS, is the only statewide employee benefits plan designed specifically for North Carolina physicians.

For more information about many other benefits of NCMS membership, visit http://www.ncmedsoc.org/.

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