Lessons Learned by a Community Health System Offering Wellness Solutions to Local Business

Dec 21, 2017

MercyCare Business Health Solutions, the corporate wellness solution division of Mercy Health System, started offering services to local business since 1984 and learned some valuable lessons along the way.

Workplace Wellness Pioneers for Corporate Health

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MercyCare Business Health Solutions (BHS) is one of Eastern Iowa's leading wellness organizations. Starting in 1984 they were one of the first community health systems in the country that began delivering wellness programs to local businesses. As a pioneer in the industry, they gained tremendous knowledge about the unique health and wellness needs of local organizations and their employees they support. By partnering with companies they are able to help lower healthcare costs, prevent diseases and create wellness solutions to foster a safer and more productive work environment.

In earlier days, Mercy focused first and foremost on improving the health of their own workforce and provided a variety of wellness programs to their employees but found the community needed more preventative services. This need was the catalyst to delivering wellness programs to local businesses wanting to improve employee health.

Recipe for Success - Unique Expertise and Program Diversity

Kathy Keane, Manager of MercyCare Business Health Solutions, leads a dedicated team of health and wellness experts including coaches certified by WellCoaches and the Iowa Chronic Care Consortium. Since BHS is part of a larger health system, Kathy and her team have access to a variety of health resources and subject matter experts that they can rely on.

Their model is to work with employers and develop a comprehensive wellness strategy to support positive lifestyle changes for employees. Through their unique expertise and depth of services offered by a physician-led organization, MercyCare BHS helps organizations realize both wellness goals for employees and the bottom line goals for a company. 

Read the full case study here to find out more about what they did, lessons learned and the types of services offered. 

"For health systems to be successful at delivering Kathy Keane, Manager of MercyCare Business Health Solutionscorporate wellness programs, they really need to know their market and be responsive to the needs of clients. You need to be able to offer a variety of programs - the ability to provide diverse programs is key." 

 Kathy Keane, Manager of MercyCare BHS

With the help of their corporate wellness tracking sofware provider CoreHealth Technologies, they are continually evolving their health and wellness programs to meet the needs of their clients and measure ROI. In fact, one of their biggest challenges is obtaining claims data from insurers to better measure ROI so they are looking to work with a CoreHealth healthcare analytics partner to help them pull and analyze claims information and answer tough questions like “How much is poor health costing my business?” Stay tuned to learn what happens.

Don't miss their FAQ's below!


FAQ's for Health Systems Looking to Offer Integrated Wellness Solutions

Health systems are in a unique position in the sense that they can create a culture of health and wellness both in their workplace and community by expanding their internal health and wellness programs to employers as part of their strategic planning.Wooden Blocks with the text Faqs.jpeg

If you’re a wellness leader at a health system, developing and implementing a wellness program for local employers can be a great opportunity for program expansion and new revenue channels. If you are thinking about expanding services to business in your region there are many questions and processes that need to be considered.  

Kathy Keane and Court Grady from MercyCare BHS provided their insights to CoreHealth by answering the following questions:

1. What was the general process that led to implementing a wellness program to employers?

MercyCare’s mission is to enhance the health of the community. What first started as an employee wellness program eventually became an outside offering once leadership saw the need for preventative services. Buy-in from leadership was key.

2. How many corporate clients do you serve?

We serve about 2,000 employers in the community which include providing occupational health services. We have about 75,000 individuals participating in our integrated wellness solutions and offerings. We have about 25% marketshare.


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3. How many staff do you need to effectively manage that population?

We have a couple of primary staff members that are dedicated to managing the business development and account management roles as well as supplemental staff like our own internal coaches. It's important to have dedicated staff you can count on.

An advantage to being part of a health system is that we can easily access subject matter experts and consult with them as required. It's important that leadership is supportive of this crossover of in-house expertise.

5. What programs did you provide when first starting out and how has it evolved?Front view of a muscular couple doing planking exercises.jpeg

We started with fitness classes, health assessments and screenings which eventually evolved into fully comprehensive wellness programs that now includes coaching.

We provide a variety of la carte services where people can choose from classes, events and support groups to fitness challenges, coaching, dietician and nutrition services and educational tools, health assessments and more. A broad mix of wellness solutions is essential. Employers are looking for variety and flexibility - a one-size-fits-all approach just doesn't work. Every organization has unique needs, corporate cultures and goals.

The important thing to note is that our programs have continuously adapted and evolved over the years to keep in line with what both the community and the industry was demanding at the time. 

Wellness is an ever-changing industry so adaptability and flexibility are key.

6. What type of competition have you seen in the industry?

Over the past 10 years there has been an increase in companies offering wellness services. So now local companies have more options to work with national wellness providers. We see this more with larger companies that have global employees and need services that can reach all their employees at this scale.

While we can and do service employees outside of our immediate region, there are considerations in doing so. 

7. What products and services would you recommend offering when starting out?

We’d recommend bundling a package of integrated wellness solutions because there won’t be one offering that will sell on its own. It’s important to offer a variety of programs and be flexible. Your program shouldn’t be a one-size fits all approach.

8. How do you administer and manage programs for so many corporate clients?

We work with CoreHealth Technologies, our corporate wellness tracking software provider, who helps us to develop, deliver and administer our programs efficiently and affordably.

9. What information do you gather from a new employer interested in your wellness services?

We determine the number of employers in the organization, their organizational structure and the current wellness activities they offer to their employees. Another important aspect is to try and get a feel for their corporate culture. A lot of the time you’ll be able to gauge how interested and successful a company will be just based on how much their leadership and culture supports health and wellness.  

10. What are some factors that have contributed to your success in offering wellness services?

We have continually changed and updated our programs to meet the needs of our clients. Keeping up with industry trends is essential so being flexible and listening to the needs of your customers is important.

Another success factor is our reputation in the local and business community. We have been in the wellness industry a long time and our reputation plays a large role in our success through long standing relationships and ongoing referrals.

In addition to our longevity and reputation, our successful coaching services also provide the biggest impact and generate the most positive feedback.

11. What’s been the most challenging?Insurance Plans - Ring Binder on Office Desktop with Office Supplies. Business Concept on Blurred Background. Toned Illustration..jpeg

It is difficult to get information on claims data from insurers to help measure ROI. Currently, if the employer is self-insured it can be easier to access data if you know which metrics to pull. But when companies are fully insured, getting that information from the carrier is not as easy.

Another hurdle is providing biometric screenings nationally. Sometimes there can be difficulties working with a third-party screener outside your region. Even national screening companies may not have adequate resources to reach all areas you need and you have limited control over their service quality.

12. If you could offer any advice for health systems looking to expand into the corporate community what would it be?

We faced a learning curve when it came to determining how to bill for our wellness services. Our EMR system drives the billing for our health services but this is not used for our separate wellness services - we have to bill this separately and, in many cases, manually. Be prepared for the work that can be involved with this and try to develop an efficient process with your wellness and accounting teams to ensure billing runs smoothly.

13. Any other recommendations for the industry?

There are a lot of available resources for information on the wellness industry such as WELCOA but also accessing local resources is helpful too. We work with the Iowa Chronic Care Consortium which is an excellent resource too.

Also, it’s imperative that you understand and know your market before offering wellness services. Your knowledge in this area will help determine the best type of services to offer.

Ready to Get Started?

If you are ready to expand your wellness service to the business community, we can help! Check out all our available resources for Health Systems & Facilities or contact us.

Contact CoreHealth

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About CoreHealth Technologies

CoreHealth Technologies Inc. is the leading corporate wellness platform trusted by more than 1000 organizations, ranging from medium-sized businesses to Fortune 500 enterprises. At CoreHealth, we believe that developing the best employee wellness programs is all about giving wellness companies the right code, design and access to the latest innovations. With the most customization, integrations and reliability of any software in its class, CoreHealth’s powerful platform lets users focus on growing great companies. For more information, contact CoreHealth or explore the CoreHealth website.

Andrea McLeod

Written by Andrea McLeod

Andrea McLeod is CoreHealth's Sales and Marketing Magician who appreciates and promotes all aspects of a healthy lifestyle.