Cleveland Clinic saves $180M with employee wellness initiatives

A wellness initiative at Cleveland Clinic has effectively improved its employees' health, saving the system $180 million in healthcare costs over the past few years, according to Michael Roizen, MD, the clinic's emeritus chief wellness officer. 

In an episode of the corporate podcast "The Edelheit Experience," covered by Corporate Wellness Magazine on Oct. 4, Dr. Roizen discussed Cleveland Clinic's Global Wellness Institute. The institute aims to help employees achieve normal blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, stress, blood sugar, body mass index and smoking levels — when all six areas are regulated, the risk of chronic diseases decreases 80 percent to 90 percent, according to Dr. Roizen. The clinic later added two more targets: immunization status and yearly visits to a primary care physician. 

In the "last few years," 44 percent of the clinic's employees have achieved health in the eight metrics, up from 6 percent at the program's launch, according to Dr. Roizen. This accompanies a rise in participation from 12 percent to 75 percent. 

CEOs helped lead the way in incentivizing wellness, Dr. Roizen said. Cleveland Clinic campuses added free smoking cessation programs, fitness centers and stress management classes. The clinic's dining offerings, meanwhile, shifted toward low-sugar, low-fat options. 

The program is saving Cleveland Clinic 30 percent of workers' premiums, which they see as returns averaging $1,600 per family, according to Dr. Roizen. 

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