August 15, 2008

Go for the Gold lands national award

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In addition to offering Go For the Gold, Health Plus partners with the American Heart Association to sponsor START!, a walking program for employees. Last week, Health Plus and Vanderbilt Heart kicked off Challenge 2 of START! Participants who logged at least 150,000 steps during Challenge 1 received a drawstring backpack as a reward. The new START! goal is 1,000 participants and 1 billion combined steps by Oct. 31. To date, more than 834,000 steps have been entered. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Go for the Gold lands national award

Vanderbilt's Go for the Gold wellness incentive program is a winner of a 2008 C. Everett Koop National Health Award, which recognizes worksite, community or government programs that improve health by reducing health risks and medical care costs.

Go for the Gold, a component of Health Plus, is a comprehensive health promotion program designed with incentives and tools to help employees and their families lead healthier and more productive lives.

“Koop Awards are the most prestigious awards for health improvement programs, requiring strong documentation of both health improvement and cost savings,” said Mary Yarbrough, M.D., M.P.H., director of health and wellness.

“There is an extensive application and review process. It is rare for academic medical centers to be recognized, and we are thrilled and so fortunate to be able to work in such a supportive environment.”

Go for the Gold is available to all full-time, benefits-eligible Vanderbilt employees and their spouses or domestic partners who are covered under the Vanderbilt health plan.

An Olympic-themed, three-tiered structure based on the honor system encourages extensive engagement.

• The Bronze level, which requires completing a health risk assessment (HRA), helps identify risks and how to make health improvements. Individuals are rewarded with $10 added to their monthly paycheck the following calendar year for completing it.

• The Silver level, which requires completing a Wellness Actions Log (WAL) in addition to the HRA, encourages action to reduce risks. Individuals are rewarded with $15 per month.

• The Gold level, which requires viewing an online video in addition to the HRA and WAL, helps develop skills to become a wise health care consumer. Individuals are rewarded with $20 per month. To maintain program appeal, the topic for the Gold level is changed each year.

• Employees earn an additional $10 per month if their spouse or domestic partner on the Vanderbilt health plan completes the HRA and WAL.

In their critiques, the Koop Award reviewers praised the high participation rate in Go for the Gold and its availability to spouses and domestic partners. In 2007, 80 percent of eligible faculty and staff and 38 percent of eligible spouses participated in the program. Health care savings were estimated at $214.87 per employee per year.

Qualification for 2009 benefits is under way, and the deadline for completion is Nov. 30. This year's online video is titled “Five Keys to Financial Health.”

All Go for the Gold steps can be completed at <a href=""></a>.