Partnerships in Health: Applying Metrics to Target Interventions & Improve Health

September 30, 2011

Last week, in partnership with ThinkWellPoint, the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease hosted an event in Washington, D.C. highlighting health indices and how they can be used to promote prevention, improve care management and increase patient safety.

With one in two Americans struggling with one of more chronic conditions, chronic disease has become the leading cause of death, disability and increasing health care costs. New research, educational events, and other news increasingly support better ways to focus on health improvement and lowering costs. As the Super Committee deliberates on the best proposals for reducing the national deficit, the pressure to lower health costs is building as are the opportunities to advance chronic care management and preventive solutions.

At a time when cost reduction reigns, and stretching budgets while still generating results is critical, health indices enable payors to identify at-risk populations and direct resources to generate the most impact. In both the public and private sectors, there is a growing need to implement health indices and other evaluation tools that track progress and demonstrate value for the health care dollars spent.

Each of the event speakers provided a different perspective on the importance of monitoring and examining health trends in order to shape policies and programs that can make a notable difference in achieving healthy outcomes. Highlights of the event include:

  • Our honored guest and co-chair of the Congressional Wellness Caucus, Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) shared insights from individuals and businesses in his district and praised PFCD for helping to advance momentum about the importance of health and wellness on Capitol Hill. Rep. Paulsen encouraged networking and knowledge sharing as a means to increase awareness about prevention opportunities that exist throughout the country.  
  • John Harris, Vice President Innovations and Chief Wellness Officer at Healthways, Inc. works to envision and develop health and wellness solutions that can stand the tests of time and the economy, and his work with the Healthways’ Well-Being Index guides the viability of these solutions.  Mr. Harris highlighted six domains in which well-being can be best measured and shared data-driven Healthways programs that have been developed to catalyze change in each of these domains. The Well-Being Index can serve as a critical information source for employers looking to influence people's well-being and lifestyle decisions, and, by extension, their on-the-job performance.
  • Sarah Sampsel, Health Index Strategies Director at WellPoint presented the provider perspective and discussed how WellPoint’s Member Health Index is used to assess and monitor the quality of care and improvements in health status for its members, employers and communities. The Index is a tool that draws attention to areas and populations where there are opportunities to reduce cost by working with members to access or take advantage of the most appropriate care. Ms. Sampsel emphasized WellPoint’s mission of expanding access and coverage while also ensuring a focus on health, wellness, risk reduction, prevention and management of chronic illness through coordination of care.  
  • Audrietta Izlar, Benefits Manager of Health Improvement for Verizon Corporate Benefits provided the employer perspective and shared examples of Verizon’s strategy and implementation for health improvement, a strategy developed to most efficiently and effectively provide health care benefits to nearly 800,000 employees, retirees, and their dependent worldwide. Verizon uses WellPoint’s Client Health Index tool to manage reporting and priorities for health outcomes and program performance in specific health plans and populations. Ms. Izlar emphasized the impact of indices felt at Verizon and shared examples of how costly employee health issues have been diagnosed and successfully managed as a result of health care offerings and interventions put forth based on the information provided by health indices.

About 40 people were in attendance, including Capitol Hill staff, PFCD members, and community organizations. Video from the event and the presentations are posted at