Located in northeastern Minnesota, St Louis County is the largest U.S. county east of the Mississippi spread across over 7,000 square miles. Representing a mix of urban and rural communities, the county government employs over 2000 individuals in more than 60 locations throughout the state that need and deserve accessible, high-quality healthcare. After incurring rising claims costs related to chronic conditions, the county partnered with Omada to offer the Omada for Prevention program in 2016 with hopes of improving long-term care outcomes and reducing medical spend.
Following the success of the Prevention program––highlighted by a 90% member satisfaction rate––and an increasing eagerness to introduce a Diabetes solution, the county expanded its offering to include Omada for Diabetes in 2021. We caught up with the team at St. Louis County to hear more about how they evaluate benefits packages, engage their workforce, and continue to assess and meet the needs of their population.
For more than a decade, Tiffany Kari and Beth Menor have respectively served as Health Promotions Coordinator and Senior Benefits Advisor at St. Louis County which employs a workforce of 2,000 spread out over 7,000 square miles.
What do you see for the future of workplace health benefits?
We see a trend towards electronic delivery with an emphasis on customization. Younger workers want high tech touch points without the cookie cutter approach and our older workforce has surprised us with their enthusiastic embrace of technology and their health. We also see mental well-being as core rather than ancillary as it is intricately woven into our overall health.
What are the key three elements in building a benefits package that effectively supports employee health?
- Choice. We are all unique so we all have different needs. Customization is key to our employees recognizing that the value of their benefits package often exceeds the value of their pay.
- A member-centric framework. Change is inevitable and when executive decisions are made, those decisions should be viewed through the lens of the member experience. and
- Support tools. Change is hard and often needed to improve health. We need to be ready for employees who don’t know where to start or where to turn next in their health journey.
Virtual care has taken the spotlight over the last two years due to the pandemic. How has that impacted the standards of benefits offerings?
Virtual care has created inroads to better care, especially in the mental health space where access and stigma continue to be sizeable obstacles. Breaking down barriers and expanding choice have been the effects of our response to care delivery during a pandemic and the bar has been raised for standards of care going forward. No looking back!
How does your organization engage its workforce in utilizing the full breadth of its benefits packages?
We have fully invested in prevention/wellness with a long-running robust total wellness program. We value wellness from the top down in our organization and have full support from all levels. We are 2,000 individuals working over 7,000 square feet at more than 60 work locations so we invest heavily in education and we take it to the masses. Our employees have built a trusted relationship with our Wellness Coordinator and she brings year round programs and opportunities for engagement.
How have the Omada programs impacted your workforce and/or what is the feedback you have heard from your employees about the program?
Our workforce fully embraced the Omada prevention program which resulted in an almost immediate three percentage point drop in our population’s diabetes prevalence. The only complaints were from those who did not qualify to participate due to their diabetes diagnoses, so we didn’t hesitate when Omada expanded into diabetes management. We hear nothing but rave reviews.