News / USA

Moving for Money

Financial payouts encourage hospital workers to exercise, eat better

Around half of OhioHealth's 9,000 employees have signed up for an incentive program that offers cash to workers who exercise.
Around half of OhioHealth's 9,000 employees have signed up for an incentive program that offers cash to workers who exercise.

Multimedia

Audio
Faiza Elmasry

A few years ago, OhioHealth, a hospital chain, decided to help its overweight employees slim down and lead a healthier life style.

It offered cash to employees who walked every day and stayed active. So far, they've seen positive results.

Wake-up call

A few months after having her first baby, OhioHealth employee Amy Rodock had a physical checkup.

"I was at one of our local hospitals," she says. "They said I was obese. Working for a health care system, I just don't like that word."

To get rid of the extra weight, Rodock joined her company's new wellness program. She was given a pedometer - which measured how far she walked - and she started walking each day with a small group of her colleagues.

"We have about three or four of us that lace up our tennis shoes at our lunch hour, and we walk for 30 minutes every day," she says. "And in the evening, I usually run or walk for three or four miles a day."

OhioHealth has paid out more than $377,000 to active employees, many of whom take a break from work to walk at lunch.
OhioHealth has paid out more than $377,000 to active employees, many of whom take a break from work to walk at lunch.

The result of her daily physical routine has been amazing.

"I started on January 2 or 3, right after New Years," she recalls. "I have lost a total of 41 pounds [18 kg]. I feel amazing, stronger and more energy. I feel better about taking care of my baby and family and I feel confident."

Lose more, earn more

On top of all those physical benefits, Rodock got a cash award for walking and losing weight.

And the more she walks, the more she wins. "I'm up to $375 so far," she says.

OhioHealth Wellness spokeswoman Lisa Meddock says half of the 9,000 employees at the company's five hospitals have signed up for the incentive program since it began in 2006.

More than $377,000 in rewards has been paid out. It all starts with that free pedometer participants receive by mail.

"It's a really smart little pedometer. It comes with a USB cord [to connect it to your computer]," says Meddock. "And it downloads your steps straight from your pedometer onto your personalized web site so you can track your progress whenever you download your steps. The more steps you take, the higher level you reach. There are five different levels. And then you get more money as you reach the different levels. Once you reach the 5th level, you can earn up to $500."

Good time

Meddock says they try to make losing weight fun as well as lucrative.

"One of the things that we do with the program is we have challenges," she says. "So I can challenge somebody and they can challenge me just on an on-going basis. You get bonus points if you do that at least once a year. We have corporate challenges where everybody who has signed up gets put on a team at random, so you get to meet new people and try and succeed. If your team reaches a goal, you get points for that. If you individually reach a goal, you get points for that. So it really makes it more exciting."

A growing number of U.S. companies are implementing such incentive oriented programs, either to help employees quit smoking or lose weight.

Kevin Volpp, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Health Incentives, says these programs make it easier to take that first step to change.

Making changes

"There is a tendency - when it comes to changing behavior in realms where behavior change is difficult - to always favor putting it off until the future," he says. "And what incentive programs do is make it more favorable for you to overcome that tendency to procrastinate doing something now."

Volpp says incentive programs to help people stop smoking seem to work better than those focused on losing weight.

"Smoking is easier than obesity because the way the environment has evolved in the United States really helps reinforce the decision not to smoke," he says. "But there are all sorts of stimuli for people to eat, which is very hard to combat."

Volpp says more studies are needed to measure the real impact of incentive programs on obesity.

"I don't think at this point there is evidence that that can be done in a consistent way because people do tend to regain weight," he says. "So it's very much an area where there is potential for this to be very helpful, but still there is still a lot of work to be done to figure how to best do that."

Different approaches to wellness

He suggests incentive programs work best as part of a broader approach to wellness.

"I think the ideal strategy is one that combines a number of ways to create a culture of wellness, in which people are encouraged to exercise and eat healthy," he says. "I think adding rewards to that mix is useful. But you have to be thoughtful about how that's done. I don't think people should assume that just creating a reward program that's tied to obesity is inherently going to be successful. I think it needs to be very carefully designed, and even then is only likely to be successful in a corporate environment in which there is a lot of focusing on better health."

Many workplaces have already introduced that mix.

OhioHeath's Lisa Meddock says through a variety of programs that offer nutritional advice, free physical checkups and other wellness services, her company is constantly encouraging its employees to develop healthy habits and make healthy choices on a daily basis.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid