Leaders in Health Care: Employer Achievement in Developing Wellness Programs

Buffalo Hospital

By Caitlin Hill

Buffalo Hospital created their "Let's Talk Wellness" program after reviewing the results of a community health needs assessment, which revealed community members were concerned with obesity rates, stress and inability to find work-life balance.

Buffalo Hospital Wellness Program Specialist Janna Anderson, along with her staff, used this new information to create their "Let's Talk Wellness" program, a series of six lessons (each about 25 minutes long) facilitated by the Buffalo Hospital wellness specialists. Topics range from stress management and life balance to physical activity and nutrition.

Instead of making people come to the hospital to participate, they've gone right to the doorstep of businesses and other organizations. "We thought it was time to change the way health care organizations operate in the community, how we view the community and how they view us," Anderson says.

After kicking off the program in April 2011, Anderson and her team were stunned by the results. In six weeks, the program influenced behavioral changes so much that people had already started to see changes in their physical appearance. Additionally, most groups aggregately lost approximately two BMI points in six weeks.

Since its inception, the program has grown tremendously and is a Wright County initiative that is being adopted by other Allina institutions across the state.

Why does Anderson think the program resonates so well with the community? "It's simple, non-threatening and right at their fingertips," she says.

Employer Achievement in Developing Wellness Programs Finalists

David Martin Agency

Account Executive Mick Hannafin of David Martin Agency, Inc., a full-serve benefit broker consultant agency, was able to develop a series of strategies that helped one of his small-business clients achieve tremendous savings. With a company of less than 500 employees, Hannafin and his team faced issues like an aging population with a high usage of specialty medical providers, low patient compliance with recommended health practices and large medical increases each year.

Hannafin's health improvement strategy resulted in savings of more than $1,286, 946 and 11, 289 PTO hours through July 2012. This resulted in a medical plan cost avoidance of more than $6 million. This was due in part to the establishment of an on-site primary care clinic, a fully integrated well-being strategy and rewards for reaching biometric goals.


Last January, HealthPartners launched their yumPower School Challenge, a four-week pilot program designed to encourage students and teachers to increase intake of fruits and vegetables by tracking the amount they consumed each week.

Radio Disney helped kicked off the yumPower School Challenge with a 45-minute, high-energy assembly featuring a main message focused around eating five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.

Approximately 15,000 students in 32 schools participated in the program and results showed that the simple act of tracking fruit and vegetable consumption during the week significantly increased the percentage of students reaching the recommended intake. Additionally, tracking increased the amount of fruits and vegetables the students ate over the weekend as well.

[View the full list of the 2012 Leaders in Health Care winners and finalists here]