Yesterday, it was my honor to provide the opening keynote for the Institute for Health and Productivity Management at their annual international conference. This year’s conference was held at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Resort in Orlando, Florida. Knowing that almost all of my time on the ground would be spent indoors, I took an opportunity Monday morning before our meetings got underway to get some relief for my sun-starved Seattle body. I took a nice long walk around the resort. The grounds were beautiful. I especially liked the large lake and what I thought was a swimming beach. But then I saw the “no swimming” signs posted near the water and the obvious reason why. Paradise lost!
The IHPM meeting is attended by benefits executives from the world’s Fortune 500 companies. Naturally, health reform is on the minds of US companies these days. I enjoyed a presentation yesterday afternoon by Grace-Marie Turner, CEO of the Galen Institute. I’ve gotten to know Grace over the last few years since we often show up together on the speaking circuit at industry conferences. Grace has a new book outlining some of the challenges of the Obama administration’s health reform package and its possible unintended consequences and costs. Just like the cool temptation of that lake out front of the hotel, with health reform you never quite know what’s just below the surface.
While health reform was no doubt on the minds of conference attendees, the real theme of the IHPM conference was sharing best practices on employee benefits, wellness, and assistance programs. The focus was especially on programs and incentives that result in improved health, lower costs, and more satisfied employees. We heard from many employers that the best results are achieved when incentives are properly aligned. It seems the most successful programs are those where employees have a true stake in the costs of EAP initiatives and are incentivized to recover those costs through program participation.
During yesterday afternoon’s program, IHPM presented several awards to recognize outstanding best practices in corporate health and wellness programs. Companies receiving awards were Advocate Health Care, Nextera Energy, Parker Aerospace, Saint-Gobain, Unilever Mexico, and Triumph Aerostructures – Vought Aircraft Division. And prior to my opening keynote address, I was thrilled and humbled to receive IHPM’s “International Leadership Award”. Although I am not connected to Microsoft’s HR or employee benefits division, IHPM recognized my work in advancing the critical role role of information technology in improving health and well being around the world. For that, I am eternally grateful to IHPM and its CEO and co-founder, Mr. Sean Sullivan.
Before I close out on this particular HealthBlog post, I want to remind readers about an important webinar that is on the horizon. On Wednesday, April 20th, my good friend and colleague, Sean Nolan, Chief Architect for Microsoft’s Health Solutions Group, will provide an update on Microsoft HealthVault and the Direct Project. The webinar is sponsored by the Microsoft Health Users Group. More information is provided below:
Recently, Microsoft created the Microsoft HealthVault Message Center to allow patients to receive encrypted email messages through their HealthVault accounts. Messages may be sent from participating providers using security protocols set forth by the Office of the National Coordinator’s (ONC’s) Direct Project. As a result, providers are able to meet objectives of meaningful use and deliver better and more timely care by sharing visit summaries, important reminders, and other information electronically with their patients.
When: April 20th (9:00 – 10:00 am PST/ 12:00 pm EST)
Presenter: Sean Nolan, Chief Architect and General Manager, Health Solutions Group
Who is invited: Everyone. If you are not a Microsoft HUG member, please contact Liz McNeil (email@example.com)
Filed at 37,000 feet via Alaska Airlines in-flight internet
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft