Rush University Medical Center offers personal health action plans and incentive-tracking to keep employees focused on wellness throughout the year. Rush also provides Smarter Testing, which has a more advanced screening for diabetes, to its entire workforce, which has identified a large number of employees with pre-diabetes. Kathryn Foulser, manager of employee wellness at Rush, explains how the hospital is keeping staff engaged.

How Rush Makes It Work

Being in healthcare, our mission is to care for our patients, which means our employees should be models of good health. But our nurses, for example, tend to be so focused on caring for others that sometimes they need to be reminded, “Your self-care is vital, not just to your job, but to your own well-being, to your family’s well-being, to your overall quality of life.” So that really propelled us into realizing we needed to do something internally to get that message out.

The thing that seems to be really compelling for us is our storytelling. We do video testimonials of real Rush employees. It inspires people when they hear about Annie who got healthy, joined the Fitness Center, and works out on a regular basis. And Debra who even got her husband off the couch and eating healthy. It starts a ripple effect and many other people are now inspired to change their lives.

We also have visible leadership support. Having a respected leader in the organization who will step out and say, “This is important, people!”, is vital to our wellness program. Bottom-up energy is very important as well. We are lucky to have it all at Rush. The vast majority of people that contact me are really appreciative that this is a benefit that’s available to them, and they feel supported.

Prior to working with Interactive Health, we used internal Rush resources to provide the wellness program and, while we had success with that, we were essentially trying to recreate the wheel. Interactive Health has the whole car built: The screenings, the reporting, the data analysis, and the cost analysis models. That provides us with the information that we can give to leadership to make the business case. They provide us with the information we need to be able to see that we’re making changes — that our people are making beneficial changes.

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