Plus One Health Management: Chris Ciatto, President and Chief Executive Officer

by HCE Exchange on October 15, 2013

Chris-Ciatto-thumb2Most businesses struggle to provide employees with affordable healthcare, especially as the workforce mirrors the U.S. population with high rates of obesity and chronic conditions related to poor lifestyle habits.

Hospital employees in particular are found to be even less healthy than the general workforce and have higher healthcare costs. With hospitals promoting preventive care and population management to patients combined with shrinking budgets and rising employee healthcare costs, finding ways to increase the health of staff should be a top priority.

Growing healthy behaviors among employees

Plus One Health Management provides personalized solutions to improve the health and effectiveness of an organization’s employees. Plus One offers on-site health and wellness programs, as well as online programs to supplement the personal touch.

President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Ciatto said Plus One will first perform an assessment to determine the organization’s goals, demographics, and available resources. Then, Plus One clinicians develop a plan that involves individual assessment, education, intervention, and engagement

“We assess the organization to see where they are currently, whether they are pursuing health management already and need a change, or if they are starting from scratch,” he said. “We have the tools to work with companies at all different starting points.”

With a plan in place, Plus One will perform health assessments of employees who choose to participate, including questionnaires and biometric screenings. Education is also a large component of the program, allowing employees to understand their numbers, their risk level, and which programs are available. This can be done online, in person, or through other communication avenues used in the organization.

“Once employees get a basic understanding of where they are in the risk spectrum, we give them means to get better,” Ciatto said. “This includes physical activity, nutrition, and ergonomic interventions. We can assemble physical-activity programs through a commercial gym, an on-site facility, or simple walking programs. We also offer weight-management challenges, with calorie-tracking tools.”

As with individual organizations, employees are at varying levels of readiness to accept wellness programs. Because Plus One operates on-site, clinicians are able to speak personally with employees who are reluctant to start a challenge or who have questions.

“We will have conversations with people at their cubicle to understand their barriers or concerns and encourage them to join one of our health management programs,” Ciatto said. “Our clinicians listen closely and find the right starting point for each individual.”

In addition to the personal touch, technology is heavily utilized to deliver Plus One’s solutions. This allows Plus One to reach remote employees, those at different branches of the organization, or spouses who are often significant contributors to rising healthcare expenses.

“We have a robust wellness portal and apps for our programs, allowing participants to  conveniently record metrics such as steps or weight for many challenges,” Ciatto said. “It has to be convenient and have some reward for people to participate. Unfortunately, many people are not willing to participate solely for the health benefits.”

Facing an uphill battle

Although the need for solutions like Plus One’s is clear, the company faces an uphill battle in individual adoption and overcoming the environment in which employees are operating. Plus One not only works with hospitals, but also corporations and universities. Most workplaces, especially in these settings, are designed to be sedentary, and overcoming that environment to increase physical activity is a challenge.

People also have a biological preference for salt, sugar, and fat, as well as ingesting vast amounts of marketing that urge them to consume products high in those ingredients.

“We are trying to reverse many years of poor lifestyle choices,” Ciatto said.

Plus One works closely with food-service vendors–specifically their partner, Compass Group, and Compass’ healthcare division, Morrison Management Specialists–to provide healthier food options and educate client populations about nutrition.

“The cafeteria and fitness center are two prominent access points to promote a wellness agenda within an organization,” Ciatto said. “We work closely with them to devise compelling, integrated programs with joint marketing, programming, and technology to create a seamless participant experience.”

He also said it’s important to make healthy choices the standard in food offerings. If people have to ask for the less healthy option, they are more likely to accept what is offered. For example, if all sandwiches are on wheat bread, a person would have to go through the extra effort of asking for white bread, and Ciatto said that is often enough to increase adoption rates of the food program.

Serving as a catalyst to wellness

Plus One Health Management began 26 years ago as a personal training studio and has since expanded to a large provider of health management solutions. Plus One offers health and wellness programs; on-site fitness-center, recreation and spa management; design and development services for fitness facilities; and technology solutions. Wellness programs for organizations are comprehensive and include health assessments, biometric screenings, wellness coaching, nutrition consultations, ergonomic programming, physical-activity programming, general wellness, and health-management promotion.

“We have a suite of programs that are people-led but technology-enabled,” Ciatto said. “They are fun, but also clinically sound and customized for each individual client.”

With more emphasis on healthy lifestyles for patients, now is an optimal time for healthcare organizations to focus on the wellness of their employees.

“Healthcare organizations need to be authentic in what they do,” Ciatto said. “They have every clinical resource within the organization and just need a catalyst.”

-by Patricia Chaney

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