Saturday, December 29, 2012

New Equipment Increases Engagement -- Let's Try the ViPR and Ugi

I'm always looking for new "toys" to add to our exercise room. People respond well to trying something new -- it helps to keep our regular exercisers engaged and occasionally attracts someone to one of our classes. Two fun new additions to our equipment selection -- a ViPR and an Ugi.

The ViPR available from Perform Better

Not convinced? Watch this video and tell me you don't want to get hold of the ViPR. More ideas here

And, here's an introduction to the Ugi. You can sit, kneel and balance on an Ugi, making it the perfect medicine ball/stability ball hybrid for exercises such as planks (forearms balanced on the ball) or ab crunches (while lying on your back on top of it).

Monday, December 17, 2012

It Starts with Food

Preparing for our next co_health book club chat at noon EST on Wednesday, December 19.

It Starts with Food was the selection for this month's co_health chat. It was an interesting choice because it has more of a self-help focus -- diet/nutrition/change on an individual level. I found myself wondering if people selected it because they had an interest in self-improvement or because they saw a broader workplace wellness application. I actually posed that question on our LinkedIn page, but I didn't get a response. Left to my own devices, I thought we might kick off the chat by talking about incorporating nutrition challenges in workplace wellness programs.

How might a nutrition challenge similar to the Whole30® challenge posed in this book fit in a workplace wellness program? I recently chatted about this with Cyndi Fales from LWS and she recommended we offer folks a few different nutrition challenges to choose from. She suggested we also consider -- 

  • The Flexitarian Diet
  • Cooking for an Eco-Concious Life
  • The Sonoma Diet

  • We discussed grouping people by the challenge they choose, collect baseline data and data at the end of the challenge, so people can note changes in weight, body fat, blood pressure, blood sugar etc... Have you done anything similar? I am thinking it might be a nice break from the typical weight loss challenges we hold at the beginning of each year.

    More generally speaking, how can we best support people that are trying to change their eating habits? Are there studies that show what contributes most to people's success? What kind of support is appropriate to offer in the workplace? How can we support people in reading and analyzing the plethora of health information that is out there on food and beyond? (Thanks to @femelmed for that last one.) 

    Of course, these discussions always ebb and flow based on the participants interests. So, we'll see where this chat takes us. If you have suggestions to prompt discussion, please share them in the comments below. 

    Friday, December 14, 2012

    How Concussions Impact School Performance

    If you have kids that play a sport and you've known me awhile, I've probably had a discussion with you about ImPACT Testing for concussion management and encouraged you to get a baseline for your children. Unfortunately, I didn't learn about this until our oldest son, Ian, had his third concussion in 2008. In many school districts, they routinely administer a baseline ImPACT Test to all the athletes now, but that wasn't the case a few years ago. 

    ASHA doesn't particularly advocate for the use of any assessment tools, but I'm proud to say the Association has been working on educating the public about traumatic brain injury with pieces like this infograph. The speech-language pathologists in your child's school can be a valuable resource if your child suffers a concussion. 
    Kids and teens suffering from TBI may struggle with speech, language, and thinking, which can lead to problems reading or memorizing. They may have more trouble than usual focusing on tasks and homework or difficulties paying attention in class. Poor grades and/or problems talking with friends or doing favorite activities may result. 
    Every school district across the United States has a speech-language pathologist (SLP) who can work with a TBI-impacted student and his or her family and teachers to create a treatment plan. Leveraging their training in cognitive communication impairments and experience helping children develop language and reading skills, SLPs can administer and interpret cognitive and behavioral assessments. They may also work with teachers to transition kids returning to school after TBI and modify test times, class loads, homework, and deadlines as needed.
    See the full post on ASHA' s site.

    If you're the parent of an athlete, your child will probably respond the way Ian did and tell you they're fine in an effort to get back on the field as quickly as possible. My advise is to have a baseline ImPACT Test on file and pull in all the resources you have available to you if your child suffers a concussion -- starting with your doctor and the speech-language pathologist in your child's school.  

    Sunday, December 9, 2012

    New Marriage Equality Laws and Employer Provided Benefits

    Image from Getty Images via
    On December 6, county clerks began issuing marriage licenses in Maryland to same-sex couples. Marriages in Maryland can begin January 1. I haven't yet seen any guidance to HR professionals on how these changes should be reflected in our benefit practices. So, I started looking to other states for insights. There are currently nine states where marriage licenses are issued to same sex partners -- Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia. Five additional states allow civil unions, providing state-level spousal rights to same-sex couples -- Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Rhode Island.

    Although the impact on employer-sponsored health and welfare benefit plans is not yet clearly defined, here are some of the questions I am asking and what I think the answers might be.

    How will state taxes be handled for same-sex married couples that reside in Maryland?

    States that legally recognize same-sex relationships typically exempt health benefits from state income tax. Therefore, same-sex married couples in Maryland should be able to pay for their eligible benefits with pre-tax state dollars like their opposite-sex married counterparts.
    How will federal taxes be handled for same-sex married couples that reside in Maryland?
    We should expect to continue to add to the employee's wages the value of employer-provided health coverage for the same-sex spouse. Passed in 1996, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) codified the non-recognition of same-sex marriages for all federal purposes, including insurance benefits for government employees, Social Security survivors' benefits, immigration, and the filing of joint tax returns. Because of the federal DOMA, the fair market value of the coverage provided to an employee's same-sex spouse must be imputed into the employee's income as wages for federal tax purposes. Fair market value is determined based on facts and circumstances, but the IRS has stated informally that the single rate charged to an individual under the plan for COBRA continuation coverage could be used.
    Will same-sex marriage be considered a qualifying event?
    Yes, employees who marry a same-sex spouse should be eligible for plan enrollment outside of the open enrollment period under the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex spouses. Also, when a state begins to recognize marriages from another state, it generally creates a qualifying event for employees that have already married in another state. (I have to admit to finding this a bit confusing since COBRA is a federal law.)
    How will we define domestic partners in the future?
    We require staff to complete a domestic partner certification to add their partner to our benefits programs. At some point in the future, it will probably make sense to require that same-sex couples that reside in Maryland or the District of Columbia be married to be covered under our benefit programs. However, I would expect to continue to offer benefits through the certification process to same-sex couples that live in Virginia. Such a change would require a reasonable grace-period to allow adequate time for same-sex couples to marry within the state. Equal documentation requirements are part of some state laws. Employers should require the same documentation for married same-sex spouses as for opposite-sex spouses.
    On December 7, the Supreme Court decided to hear challenges to both California's Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act. This could lead to a series of historic rulings, but I've also read that the Court is likely to rule in a way that avoids sweeping change. Once clear guidance has been provided, employers with employees in a state that recently passed a marriage equality act should carefully review their health and welfare plan documents, summary plan descriptions, participant communication materials and forms to make sure the rights of same-sex spouses are clear. Staff in your payroll department should be engaged to address the related tax issues. Ensure that your communications and forms make clear that same-sex spouses are eligible for spousal benefits by using inclusive language when referring to spouses.

    I'll continue to post links to information here that might be helpful as I come across it. Please share any useful information you come across.

    Thursday, December 6, 2012

    Impact of Pricing on Fitness Class Participation

    We're always listening to feedback from staff and adjusting our wellness program offerings. In my last post, I talked about a new pricing model we are trying this session. (Sessions run 12 weeks.) Some staff had asked for more flexible options, so we introduced an "all access pass" for only $50 a month. We hoped to attract more staff to participate and simplify the administrative process bit.

    We only had a few more staff sign-up for classes, but the average number of classes participants take went from 1.83 to 2.67. If we could just maintain the level of engagement participants have, but get the number of participants back up to where it was last March, I'd be thrilled. 

    Your suggestions will be welcome.

    Monday, November 5, 2012

    ASHA End of Year Fitness Class Sale

    We're announcing an end of year sale on our onsite fitness classes. Some staff have asked for a more flexible option, so we are introducing an "all access pass" for only $50 a month. We hope to attract more staff to participate and simplify the administrative process bit. Staff can try whatever classes they are interested in the week of November 19 and then sign up for the next 12 week session which begins November 26.

    Friday, November 2, 2012

    And the winner is -- It Starts with Food

    Join us for our #co_health chat on December 19 at noon est.

    You selected It Starts with Food by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig (@whole9life) for our next Cohealth wellness book club chat. The chat is scheduled for December 19 at noon est. Our last chat about Persuasive Technology was lively and engaging. You won't want to miss this next one!

    Cohealth is a virtual knowledge community for those keen to improve workplace wellness. All are welcome to join.

    Thursday, November 1, 2012

    Insurance Coverage for Hearing Aids

    Legislative developments have significantly changed the way insurance coverage is provided for hearing aids. First, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was changed effective January 1, 2009 to significantly expand the definition of disability by defining major life activities to include hearing, speaking and communicating. Some insurers made changes to their standard benefits as a result. United Healthcare (UHC) was one of these carriers. In short, they began covering hearing aids like other durable medical equipment effective January 1, 2010. UHC posted this explanation of the change. Other insurers are taking a more passive approach and waiting for the EEOC and the courts to interpret the legislation and provide guidance. ASHA already had model coverage in place for our staff and their families, so the ADA changes had little impact on us.

    Then, on October 1, 2011 Maryland passed a bill concerning the coverage of hearing aids (Chapter 527, House Bill 452.) The bill requires an insurer that provides coverage for hearing aids to allow an individual to choose a hearing aid that is priced higher than the benefit payable under the policy or contract and pay the difference between the retail price and what the insurance covers. In effect, this bill allows in-network providers to balance bill. This Maryland bill is the only exception I've ever seen that allows in-network providers to balance bill for any type of medical service.

    Let’s look at an example of how a hearing aid claim might be covered in and out-of-network before and after the passage of the Maryland bill with a policy that includes an in and out-of-network benefit. 

    Here are definitions for some of the terms used. 

    Balance billing is when a provider of a medical service bills the patient for the difference between the provider’s actual charges and the amount the provider is reimbursed from the patients insurance benefit plan. This commonly occurs when a patient seeks services from an out-of-network provider, but has been prohibited by the contracts governing the relationship of in-network providers.

    In-network providers negotiate a contract with an insurance network that specifies what they will be reimbursed for providing services to patients that are members of that network. They agree to accept the agreed upon reimbursement amount as payment in full for their services.

    Out-of-network providers - Out-of-network services are those provided by physicians or other health care providers that have not entered into a contract with the health insurer to accept discounted rates.

    Durable Medical Equipment (DME) medical equipment used in the home like crutches, wheel chairs and diabetic testing supplies.

    Deductible – The amount a member must pay out-of-pocket for services before the insurer will start making payments for covered services. A deductible is typically set on an annual basis.

    Usual, Customary and Reasonable (UCR) - Before managed care became common, medical service providers typically charged insurers a retail, non-discounted rate for services. The concept of usual, customary and reasonable rates was developed to protect against providers engaging in fee gouging. Health insurers generally calculate coverage for out-of-network benefits based on a percentage of UCR rates.
    The American Medical Association (AMA) defines Usual, Customary and Reasonable (UCR) as: 
    "Usual": the fee an individual physician usually charges his or her private patient for a given service (i.e., his or her own usual fee); 
    "Customary": a fee that is within the range of usual fees physicians of similar training and experience currently charge for the same service within the same specific and limited geographical area; and 
    "Reasonable": a fee that meets the above two criteria and is justifiable, considering the special circumstances of the particular case in question without regard to payments that governmental or private plans have discounted.
    As I mentioned previously, this is the only example I know of where providers are permitted to balance bill in-network. In all other instances, they are reimbursed at the rate they negotiated in their contracts with the insurers. It's particularly difficult to communicate and difficult for people to understand since it's so outside the norm. 

    Friday, October 26, 2012

    Preparing for Hurricane Sandy

    Our Facilities Director, Al Kolan, just sent out this message to the staff. It's a little example of how he looks out for all of us.

    With the threat of a serious storm heading in our direction, the following information is being provided.
    1. Please review the attached file for general information relative to preparation for a major storm.
    2. If, as a result of the storm, normal business operations may be interrupted, information about our status will be available in the following ways.
    • Call 301-296-5700 for a recorded message after 6 a.m. Monday thru Friday.
    • An e-mail message will be sent to the same persons to which this message is being sent.
    • ASHA staff may get information which will be posted on ASHAnet.
    • ASHA staff may receive information via our “OneCall Now” notification system if you have previously registered to do so.  If you have not registered or you want to check your contact information, please go to the HR Service Center on ASHAnet
     Thank you, in advance, for your understanding and cooperation.
    On a related note, One Call Now is a useful tool to enhance communication with your staff. We use it for weather emergencies, convention information, and wellness program reminders and notifications. 

    I haven't shared enough about our wonderfully supportive facilities team. If you want to run a good wellness program, you definitely need the help of the staff in your facilities area. I'll devote a post to this one of these days. 

    Stay safe everyone!

     Hurricane Info from the America Red Cross

    Sunday, October 21, 2012

    Help Select a Book for the December 19 CoHealth Virtual Wellness Book Club Chat

    I was excited by the level of engagement with our first CoHealth book, Persuasive Technology. Having the author, BJ Fogg, participate in our discussion and the CoHealth Checkup radio show certainly helped make it more interesting. 

    We hope you'll consider joining us for our next book club discussion on December 19 at 12:00 EST. Read more about CoHealth if you're new to the group and then go to the CoHealth LinkedIn page to voteWe received six suggestions for our next book club chat. The poll would only accommodate five options, so we set aside the most expensive book for now -- Why Nobody Believes the Numbers

    Monday, October 15, 2012

    Fighting the Flu with UHC

    We worked with United HealthCare (UHC) who contracted with Mollen Immunization to administer our flu shots this year. The experience turned out to be frustrating. The forms Mollen used were long and asked for a lot of duplicate and irrelevant information. The communication from Mollen was poor. Mollen actually delayed the start of our clinic insisting that they were required to collect a credit card number from each person even though the individuals were not paying for the vaccines. UHC stepped in and resolved that issue in about ten minutes, but by then a line had formed. Mollen sent two nurses to administer the shots, but no one to handle the paperwork. The line moved slowly and continued for the full duration of our clinic which ran from 10:00 until 1:00. The nurses were actually at our office until 5:00 p.m. working on the paperwork from administering 136 flu shots. 
    We shared our feedback with UHC and painted a picture of the differences between this year’s flu shot clinic and past year’s clinics when LifeWork Strategies (LWS) administered our flu shots.  Past year’s clinics had reasonable wait times, there was minimal paperwork, and communications from LWS regarding what they needed was very clear.  UHC was empathetic and very disappointed that we were not pleased. They have approved for us to use LifeWork Strategies to administer our flu shots next year. They've given us a reasonable budget and will reimburse us for our actual expenses up to that amount. 

    This represents our experience working with UHC well. They're consistently accessible, reasonable and responsive. When we switched our coverage to UHC in 2011, I was concerned that the service would be impersonal dealing with such a big company. However, our experience has been just the opposite. We work with a wonderful team of folks at UHC and they treat us like we're a key account. Special thanks to Eugenia Perna and Lisa Roy. We love working with you both.

    On a related note... read about how we passed the time while waiting in line.

    Wondering why you should hold a flu shot clinic in your workplace? Read Staffing Continuity, Flu Shots and Workplace Wellness.

    Tuesday, October 9, 2012

    Road ID -- A Smart $20 Investment for Yourself and Your Loved Ones

    If you tend to train alone or you have a serious medical condition, it's wise to wear a Road ID with your emergency contact information. There are multiple styles and colors to choose from -- surely something to suit everyone -- and you can personalize the content. I purchased one when I started cycling. Then, decided it was smart to wear it when I swim and run too. 

    I started out with the Sport and then upgraded to the Elite. The Sport version is velcro and I didn't like how wet it felt on my wrist after I swam. The Elite is made from silicone so it stays dry. A minor thing, but I find it more comfortable. 

    Road IDs also make great medical alert bracelets. You can opt for an interactive model so that you can keep your medical information up-to-date online. In an emergency, a caretaker can access your secure online records or call and talk to a live operator to get access to the information you want them to have. 

    I also recommend wearing one when traveling alone. I gave my son one to wear when he traveled through Europe on his own. He didn't actually wear it, but I still think it would have been wise.


    Friday, October 5, 2012

    Foam Rolling Mania

    Sometimes it's the little things that make you happy! We've added to our foam roller collection and will be holding instructional sessions for staff soon. In the meantime, people can get started by watching this video. I like the Rumble Roller and the Y-Roller. Let me know what your favorite is.

    Thursday, October 4, 2012

    How Germy is Your Desk?

    According to this infographic posted on, pretty darn germy and gross -- 100 x germier than most kitchen tables. The biggest contributor to the germiness -- eating at our desks. Only 1 in 5 of us takes an actual lunch break and only 1 in 5 of us cleans our desks before eating. Maybe we'd all benefit from treating our desks a little more like our kitchen table and wiping them down after lunch. 

    Many thanks to Erin Mantz for sharing this with me. I'm going to grab some Lysol wipes right now.

    August 11, 2016 update:

    "Why do we eat lunch at our desks?" Thanks for sharing Guillermo Galdamez.

    And, if we are going to eat at our desks, we may as well eat something healthy. Check out these ideas from Deb Dixon. 

    Wednesday, October 3, 2012

    Help People Make Smart Health Care Decisions with NurseLine

    When I attended the Healthiest Employers event, I picked up an idea from a presentation that Irene Myers-Thompson from UHC did on using health plan resources to build a wellness program. She suggested having people enter the NurseLine number in their cell phones to be entered into a raffle.

    The NurseLine is a great first point of contact for people with a health concern. A team of experienced registered nurses is available to answer health questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week at no cost to the caller. They're available at 2:00 am when a child has a high fever. They can help a caller decide when a family member might need stitches or an x-ray. When someone is traveling and gets sick, they can help the person decide when and where to seek care. Our challenge is to make sure people think to call and have the number available when they need it. 

    We held our flu shot clinic today, so I figured we had a captive audience while people waited in line. We chatted with folks and had them save the number in their phones. People earned a second entry if they downloaded the Health4Me app on their smart phones. We announced the contest on our intranet and gave staff until 5:00 to stop by and show us that they had entered the number and/or downloaded the app. 

    Very few people already had the number saved in their phones. (A handful of folks actually had the NurseLine number from the insurance coverage we had with Guardian back in 2010.) We distributed 136 flu shots and received 73 entries for our drawing. Our winner was Tracy Schooling. Tracy won a $25 iTunes gift card. 

    Tuesday, October 2, 2012

    Our New Activity Based Wellness Challenge

    Kip Shapiro coach of In the Zone -- our Week 1 Winning Team
    ​We recently kicked off a new activity based challenge similar to the Biggest Mover program we held a couple of years ago. We are using the Presidents Challenge site​ again to track our activities. We formed four teams and the teams compete each week based on their logged activity points. We just announced our first weekly winner -- In the Zone. At the same time the teams compete, we can all work individually toward our Presidents Challenge awards.
    To enhance the fun factor, the Wellness Team created a Backfield in Motion football theme. Participants will be invited to play Frisbee football, attend a tailgate party and other things throughout the campaign. Members of winning teams receive small footballs to display on their badges. Kip is proudly displaying his in the photograph. This campaign will run through super bowl Sunday.

    This challenge is unique in that you can really engage as part of a team or more quietly just record your activities and work toward your individual goals, so there is something for everyone.

    Monday, October 1, 2012

    Why ASHA is the Healthiest Employer [video]

    We put together this fun little video for the Healthiest Employers' Award event. Many thanks to Mike Cannon, aka Muscle Mike -- our on air celebrity, Doug Plesh, our director and videographer, and Nina Kranz, our producer.

    Saturday, September 15, 2012

    Persuasive Technology

    Preparing for our first co_health book club chat.

    Our first #co_health book club chat about Persuasive Technology is coming up next week -- Wednesday, September 19 at noon EST. If you've fallen behind reading the book, it's not too late to catch up. Fran Melmed, Carol Harnett and I found the following topics to be the most intriguing and informative and these are what we'll focus on during the chat. 

    Motivation (Chapt 3)
    "The research on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation shows that the gentler the intervention to achieve the desired behavior change, the better the long-term outcome." Has this been true in your experience? 

    Mobile (Chapt 8)
    Chapter Eight is about increasing persuasion through mobility and connectivity. You have to be at least a little impressed by how Fogg predicted the explosion of mobile apps when he wrote the book ten years ago. Now that we're inundated with options, what points from the book might you use to select the best mobile options to integrate into workplace wellness?

    Kairos (Chapt 3 & 8)
    What do you think about Kairos -- the principle of presenting your message at the opportune moment? How is this both an opportunity and a challenge with mobile technology? 

    Ethics (Chapt 1, 3 & 9)
    Fogg defines persuasion as an attempt to change attitudes or behaviors or both (without using coercion or deception.) What is our responsibility for understanding the ethical boundaries of the persuasive technology we incorporate in our work?

    And generally, I'll be interested to hear what practical ideas you have for integrating the ideas in the book into your work?

    B.J. Fogg is currently working on 3 Tiny Habits. I hope some of you will check it out with me. And, don't forget he has agreed to join us for the cohealth checkup radio show, so we have that to look forward to also. 

    BJ Fogg allowed PARC to record this recent presentation. Be sure to check it out. 

    Here's the transcript from the #co_health tweet chat with .

    CoHealth Checkup on Persuasive Technology with BJ Fogg

    Sunday, August 26, 2012

    Get the Most Out of Every Workout by Focusing on Recovery

    Photo: Nils Nilsen
    I read, The Natural: Entrepreneur Sami Inkinen, by Courtney Baird last April in Inside Triathlon magazine and just tracked it down to reread. It's about Sami Inkinen's training practices. He's an entrepreneur and a triathlete that went under nine hours in Kona on 12 hours of training per week. Since reading it, I've been thinking about his focus on recovery, take on stress and determination to get the most out of every workout. He's quoted in the article as saying, "if I don’t improve in almost every single workout, it’s not because I haven’t trained, but because I haven’t rested.”

    I've tried to apply some of this thinking to my training. Not completely successfully I might add since I'm rehabbing yet another calf strain, but I am focusing more on allowing myself enough time to recover (which takes longer than it did when I was younger) and wasting fewer workouts by just going through the motions. 

    I don't have a massive tracking spreadsheet like Inkinen. I'm not ready to be that disciplined about training, but the geek in me sees the appeal. Inkinen's latest blog post is about his tracking madness and philosophy on making data based decisions and can easily be applied in other environments. It's worth reading. 

    You know that game "If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?" Well, I'm adding Sami Inkinen to my short list. 
    "Inkinen is a man who could easily be described as brilliant (in fact, Trulia employees, Stanford classmates and friends who were interviewed for this story used words such as “freakishly intelligent” when talking about Inkinen). He has co-founded two successful companies, speaks five languages, has advanced degrees from two of the world’s best universities, and he literally taught himself how to swim by watching video and seeking out open-water experts, working his way toward a 1:02:18 swim split at Kona this year."

    Friday, August 24, 2012

    Working Out and Cashing In

    I'm sure you've seen the studies that indicate attractive people earn more money -- 3 to 4 percent more according to this WSJ article. "Attractive" isn't necessarily within our control, so that hardly seems fair. A new study published in the Journal of Labor Research shows that people who exercise regularly earn 6 to 10 percent more than their more sedentary counterparts. Now we're talking! That's more than twice the positive impact with something we do control. 

    The more I read, the more I have come to believe that exercise is the magic bullet. It seems to impact health more than weight and a whole host of other variables. None of the studies I've read suggest you have to become an olympic athlete to reap the rewards. Even a moderate increase in activity has a positive impact on health. And, according to this study even moderate exercise has a positive impact on pay. 

    We're kicking off a new football themed program at work to encourage people to be more active. We won't be passing out checks at the end of the program, but this study looks pretty legitimate -- just saying. 

    Monday, August 20, 2012

    There's an App for that! United Healthcare's Health4Me

    I was chatting with a staff member earlier today about her recent visit to an urgent care center. She was traveling and struggled a bit to identify a participating provider. She figured it out, but the task would have been easier if she'd have had Health4Me, United Healthcare's mobile app on her phone. With it, she'd have been able to quickly identify the nearest urgent care center and pull up her ID card on her phone when she got there. 

    The Health4Me app is available from the Apple iTunes App Store as a free download for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. It is also available as a free download in the Android marketplace for Android phones.

    Don't wait until you need it. Download this app today and make sure it's on your family member's phones too. Take a minute to login and look around, so you'll remember you have this powerful resource at your finger tips when you need it most. 

    Use UHC's Health4Me app to:

    • Identify urgent care and emergency rooms when and where you need them
    • Display your ID card
    • See benefit amounts
    • View claims
    • Estimate costs for services
    • Search for doctors
    • Search for hospitals and other facilities
    • Contact the NurseLine

    A little more on that last bullet. When you're uncertain what to do, I highly recommend making a call to the Nurseline (888-887-4114). A team of experienced registered nurses are available to answer your health questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week at no cost to you. You can contact the Nurseline through the app, but I recommend saving it in your contact list as well for quick access.

    Wednesday, August 15, 2012

    ASHA Named One of Greater Washington's Healthiest Employers

    We're honored to be included in Washington Business Journals' list of the areas healthiest employers again this year. The award honors companies whose policies  and initiatives promote the health and well-being of their employees. They used an online assessment tool and measured wellness programming in six key categories to select the winners -- culture and leadership commitment, foundational components, strategic planning, communication and marketing, programming and interventions, and reporting and analysis. 

    They'll announce the ranking of each company during an event on Thursday, September 20. Last year we were ranked #4 in the 100-499 category. It looks like they've changed the categories this year and they're recognizing 10 more employers for a total of 50.

    I live in Reston, Virginia so I'm especially happy to see Reston Association being recognized again this year. I'm also very pleased to see our friends at the American College of Cardiology made the list. Congratulations to all the other winners! 

    2-249 employees
    Corporate Network Services Inc.
    Gentle Giant Moving Co. Inc.
    GS5 LLC
    IntelliDyne LLC
    IQ Solutions Inc.
    Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)
    Reston Association
    Walker & Dunlop Inc.

    250-499 employees
    Airlines Reporting Corp.
    American College of Cardiology
    American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
    GTSI Corp.
    JBS International Inc.
    The Motley Fool LLC
    Systems Planning and Analysis Inc.
    Van Metre Cos.
    Washington Real Estate Investment Trust
    500-999 employees
    CapitalSource Inc.
    City of Rockville
    Crowell & Moring LLP
    Duke Realty Corp.
    Hitt Contracting Inc.
    Radio One Inc.
    Ryan LLC
    Unity Health Care Inc.
    William C. Smith & Co.

    1,000-4,999 employees
    The Advisory Board Co.
    CoStar Group Inc.
    Deltek Inc.
    Neustar Inc.
    Orbital Sciences Corp.
    The Liaison Capitol Hill, an Affinia hotel
    Suburban Hospital, a member of Johns Hopkins Medicine
    USI Insurance Services LLC
    Virginia Hospital Center

    5,000+ employees
    Accenture PLC
    AOL Inc.
    Capital One Financial Corp.
    CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield
    Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center
    Inova Health System
    Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States
    Quest Diagnostics Nichols Institute
    Sapient Government Services
    SRA International Inc.

    Thursday, August 9, 2012

    Would Naked Fridays Complement our Wellness Program?

    Naked Friday at Onebestway
    Image: Tengri News via 
    According to this article a colleague just shared with me -- World's Weirdest Offices -- Onebestway improved teamwork by having everyone work naked on Fridays. I cringed, laughed, started to forward it on to a friend with a snarky comment and then paused. Would knowing your coworkers will see you naked serve as an incentive for us all to take better care of ourselves and complement our wellness program? It would certainly keep me out of the office candy jar. 

    Ok, I'm not really serious about working naked, but how about mandatory beach volleyball?

    Wednesday, August 8, 2012

    There's an App for That! Business Productivity Apps for your iPad.

    Reggie Henry, ASAE's Chief Information Officer, recently helped ASHA staff take our iPad usage to the next level. He said he uses an iPad for 95% of his work and introduced us to a variety of applications he relies on to get his job done. The perspective Reggie shared -- "I want people to work how they are most productive." 

    Here are my notes (taken on Corkulous.)

    The app I rely on most at work is still Note Taker HD. I also use Evernote on an almost daily basis. Of course, you need enough juice to do all this work on the move. I like my new Belkin surge protector. It spins around so you can charge multiple devices no matter what angle you find an outlet. And, when there isn't an outlet around, I rely on my iGo Green for a quick power boost. 

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012

    Bouncing While You Work -- Swapping Your Desk Chair for a Stability Ball

    Emerald Ong, ASHA graphic designer
    extraordinaire and owner of Ongward
    Phote: Ben Sledge
    I recently swapped my fancy ergonomic desk chair for a stability ball. Last December, I had surgery on my hip to repair a torn labrum I got falling off my bike. By June, I was back to running a few miles and finished a sprint distance triathlon, but it still didn't feel great. Then, I started sitting on the stability ball and now I actually feel better at the end of the workday than the beginning. And, the ball totally suits my fidgety disposition. 

    Some say sitting on a stability ball is better for your posture, some say it's good for low back pain, others say it burns additional calories and strengthens your core. The studies I read really aren't that compelling. The extra calorie burn -- a whopping 30 calories per day. That doesn't count the calories you burn bouncing and getting up to get things you can't roll to like you can in a chair though. The ergonomic specialist we work with does not recommend sitting on stability ball because you can loose your balance while turning and reaching. (I'm more worried about falling off my bike again than my ball.)

    I'm 5'4" and chose a 65 cm ball. I don't fully inflate it so my feet hit the floor. It's the perfect height for my desk. I recommend the Thera-Band Pro Series SCP Stability Balls balls from Perform Better. At $38.95 it's a great deal. Especially when you compare it to the versions mentioned in this New York Times article -- $225 for a ball? 

    If you work at ASHA, feel free to borrow a ball from the exercise room to see how you like it before ordering one. Just pick it up after 8:30 and return it by 4:00, so it's available for our fitness classes. 

    Many thanks to Emerald for letting me use her picture.

    Wednesday, July 25, 2012

    There's an App for That! How mHealth Can Transform Your Care.

    I'm facinated by how mhealth is slowly transforming health care and talked about this trend along with others earlier this year. (I guess that's par for the course when you're a geek who's passionate about wellness.) So, imagine my delight when I came across this post from Enterprising Business today with this cool infographic. 

    I've already downloaded and tested the SkinScan app which seems like an ideal tool for tracking changes in a mole. Let me know what apps you try and what you think of them. 

    Three Steps to Protect Children From Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

    Young people are at increased risk of noise-induced hearing loss because they are spending more time plugged into personal listening devices. Even minimal hearing loss can negatively affect social interactions,  development and academic performance. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association urges you to help children develop safe listening habits. This fun infographic shows you the three steps you need to take. 

    Tuesday, July 24, 2012

    The Commitment Continuum

    We've been wholly unsuccessful in assessing the stage of change people are in. We included this as part of an assessment to select participants for a weight loss program we ran. Each person was suppose to have been in either the preparation or action stage to be selected. Unfortunately, as the program progressed we learned that most were in the contemplation stage. That is, they were aware that a problem existed and were seriously thinking about overcoming it, but had not made a commitment to take action. I think one of the reasons the participants lost so little weight during the program was because most had not committed to action. 

    I recently participated in Dave Scott's Mental Training Tactics and Race Day Strategies of World Champions, a webinar sponsored by Training Peaks. They presented this chart on commitment. I'm wondering if it would be more relevant for us to try assess level of commitment than stage of change for some of our programs. What do you think?

    Of course, the real challenge may be in the effectiveness of the assessment tool and not what we're measuring. Something to think about though...