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St. Luke's Blogs

Healthy U: Working Together to Improve Health

By Dr. David C. Pate, News and Community
October 14, 2013

The American healthcare system has little experience in improving the health of people who are not patients. That is one of the reasons that I have been so interested in following the results of our Healthy U program, and so pleased with all that we are learning and accomplishing together with our employees. 

St. Luke’s is committed to improving health, and we see this as a critical competency to being able to deliver true accountable care to our communities. Our success with Healthy U can form the basis for some of our population health initiatives under accountable care. 

I have asked Maureen O’Keeffe, St. Luke’s Health System vice president of human resources, to update us on progress in the Healthy U program. Her update follows.

St. Luke’s Triple Aim of better health, better care, and lower costs is an inspiring and challenging goal. And of those three areas of effort, as Dr. Pate has noted, better health is the most challenging.   

Count on St. Luke’s employees to tackle the challenge head-on! Three years ago, we began to focus on ways to encourage better health when we moved away from paying for activities such as class attendance or quiz completion to providing discounts for results. 

We focused on three areas: high blood pressure, tobacco use, and diabetes. 

It was great last year to see the progress that we had made, and exciting to watch how people embraced the challenge to become healthier. 

This year, we upped the ante—and held our breath. Could we continue our progress?

St. Luke’s employees don’t disappoint. The results are in, and once again, the progress is impressive.  For those who were outside a recommended range in 2012 but who were able to change that by 2013:

  • Pre-diabetes: 76 percent improvement
  • Diabetes: 42 percent improvement
  • Pre- hypertension: 68 percent improvement
  • Hypertension: 75 percent improvement
  • Tobacco use: 28 percent improvement
Outstanding, especially when we remember that any one of these factors can lead to much more serious health concerns down the road. 

It’s early to pat ourselves on the back, but these results are certainly promising as we start to figure out important things about managing the health of a population.

And now it’s time to tackle one of the most difficult challenges: weight. This year, body mass index (BMI) has been added, and our Healthy U team has been hard at work bringing coaches, classes, and fun activities in to encourage all of us to get more fit. 

We also broadened our reach and have provided a discount for employees’ spouses to participate in the personal wellness profile and health risk screening. We know that changing behavior for an individual often means changing behaviors for the family, and this is especially true if it means changing eating habits. 

It is very inspiring to listen to the stories of people who have lost significant weight, given up smoking after many years, or found ways to be more active. It’s even more inspiring to watch St. Luke’s employees as a whole get healthier.   

To the 94 percentof St. Luke’s employees who are benefits-eligible and who have become involved in the health risk screenings and personal wellness profiles, thanks for being great examples of what can happen when we work together to improve health!


About The Author

David C. Pate, M.D., J.D., is president and CEO of St. Luke's Health System, based in Boise, Idaho. Dr. Pate joined the System in 2009. He received his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center.