Virginia Tech receives NIH Grant to study the impact of the incentaHEALTH Workplace Weight Loss Program across 32 sites.
Incentive-based employee weight loss program helps employees lose weight and will be tested for its effectiveness at lowering the employer’s health care costs.
DENVER, CO — (MARKET WIRE) — October 8, 2007 — incentaHEALTH’s online incentive-based weight loss program is the focus of a new study to be carried out in Virginia and funded by the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Paul Estabrooks, an associate professor at Virginia Tech, leads a team of scientific professionals interested in determining the effectiveness of the program in attracting, educating, motivating, and supporting participants to lose weight. As overweight/obesity is second only to tobacco use as a contributor to the problem of soaring health care costs and mortality, one objective of the study is to determine the economic effect of weight loss on employee productivity and health care costs.
“We’re very excited to conduct this study,” said Dr. Estabrooks. “With the current prevalence of overweight and obesity in the U.S. and the negative health and economic consequences of an unhealthy weight, it is critical to discover practical and efficient ways to support weight loss.”
The incentaHEALTH program is notable in its use of breakthrough health care technology that enables the system to reach a high proportion of overweight and obese employees simultaneously. “We provide personalized daily exercise and nutritional coaching to each employee that helps them reach their long term weight loss goals,” says Jack Rule, Chief Executive Officer of incentaHEALTH. “Our program is massively scalable, allowing it to be offered to thousands of employees with the same level of individual care. The end result is a healthier employee and significant reductions in health care costs.”
“Our program is unique in that it is employer-based and uses proprietary automated technology, realistic and tailored exercise and nutritional advice, and an incentive program to help participants modify their lifestyle and lose weight,” Rule explains. “The program rewards participants with cash incentives if body weight is lowered and maintained at the reduced levels.”
For the individual, the cash incentive provides a positive reinforcement and encourages participants to stick with the program. While participants may weigh in as often as they like, “official” weigh-ins are conducted on a quarterly basis. Employees weigh in using incentaHEALTH’s proprietary HEALTHspot kiosk. Their weigh in results are encrypted and sent to the incentaHEALTH data center via the Internet. Based on the results of the quarterly weigh-in, the employee may qualify for an incentive check. If the weight loss is maintained for the next quarter, the participant continues to receive a second check and so on. The check increases or decreases depending on the participant’s quarterly performance. The incentive is funded by a portion of the projected health care savings generated from reduced absenteeism, medical visits, and pharmacy costs. IncentaHEALTH monitors the progress, processes the payments, and distributes the incentives to the participants of the sponsoring organization.
The incentaHEALTH program differs from other methods in its use of tailored communication technologies to help employees change their behavior. “The incentaHEALTH system allows employers to simultaneously reach thousands of employees,” said Todd McGuire, Chief Technology Officer for incentaHEALTH. “We deliver a very personalized level of care to each participant. Since we are using secure technology to provide daily coaching and to track performance, the process is much more private than traditional, manual approaches; and the confidential nature of the HEALTHspot kiosk, which is located in a private room, encourages participation among employees who are sensitive about their weight. The program truly facilitates the creation of a HIPAA compliant program.”
“Best of all, the program works,” Rule declares. “Rapid weight loss is difficult to sustain, so incentaHEALTH focuses not on simply losing excess pounds, but on reshaping the eating and exercise habits of individuals. By changing these patterns of behavior, sustainable healthy weight loss can be achieved.”
About Dr. Estabrooks
Dr. Paul Estabrooks is an associate professor in the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, & Exercise at Virginia Tech Riverside in the Carilion Biomedical Institute. His research focuses on the development and dissemination of effective physical activity, nutrition, and weight management interventions that can reach a large population. His work is funded by the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, & Kidney Disorders.
incentaHEALTH is an innovative, technology-based health care company located in Denver, Colorado. incentaHEALTH’s unique, patent-pending employee weight-loss program is designed to lower an employer’s health care costs. By helping meaningful numbers of employees change their behavior relative to nutrition and exercise, incentaHEALTH has been successful in bringing a healthier lifestyle to the employee and health care savings to the employer. The incentaHEALTH program has been deployed in multiple companies in multiple states over the last four years. Visit www.incentahealth.com for more information.