Combat Escalating Medical Costs in a Rural Multi-Hospital Healthcare System through an Employee Weight Loss Program: a Multidisciplinary Team Design


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Employers, especially those who are self-funded, are under pressure to decrease medical spending on their employees. While medical costs continue to rise, chronic diseases consume a large fraction of the costs, especially obesity. Although obesity is a prime opportunity for intervention, it can often be a sensitive topic and employers approach programs geared towards weight loss cautiously. The aim of the “Choose to Lose” pilot program was to implement a multidisciplinary team to educate, coach and support employees on their weight loss journey, while offering the necessary medical interventions to aid in success. A 26-week program was designed to offer employees a comprehensive program with monthly medical oversight and weekly group sessions lead by subject matter experts in the fields of dietary, behavioral health and personal training. In 19 months, 145 employees participated in the program. Of those participants, 136 individuals achieved weight loss which collectively amounted to 3,329 pounds lost. The compliance rate for program completion was 62% and the average employee completed 18 weeks of the program. This pilot highlighted that an employee worksite weight loss program within a healthcare setting can be successfully implemented without large upfront costs. However, additional data must be obtained around the return on investment and long term effects of medical cost reduction as a result of this intervention.



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