Above: Screen shot of mini Web site developed for The Wellness Payoff project. The Web site, white paper, video, podcasts, media release and other resources can be seen at www.optimahealth.com/wellness.
The Wellness Payoff – A Communications Plan to Promote the Success of Sentara Healthcare and Optima Health’s Employee Wellness Program
The Sentara Mission: Health program, Sentara’s wellness and disease management program, was implemented in 2008 to encourage Sentara employees to maintain health lifestyles and improve health conditions. Participants can significantly lower the cost of their medical plan coverage and earn other incentives by following established protocols for chronic disease management. Sentara – in partnership with Optima Health, the health insurance company Sentara owns and which also insures its employees – benefits by reducing medical costs while maintaining an affordable insurance for its employees.
Over the past two years, employee health indicators have improved appreciably while Sentara has saved a stunning $3.4 million, representing a 6-to-1 return-on-investment for the program, which includes the cost of incentives and all operating expenses for the program.
The purpose of the project was to promote the success of Mission: Health through a strategic communications plan both internally and externally. Ultimately, it is important for Optima Health’s member companies – and potential members – to view Optima as an industry leader in the health insurance business and to consider Optima Health as a partner when making decisions about their employees’ coverage.
There were multiple components, consisting primarily of stories on the web site; a white paper explaining program results; a micro-site to reside on Optima’s main site; a video to reside on the micro-site and to be shown at the company’s annual meeting at Kingsmill in Williamsburg to Optima’s top 100 member company executives; three downloadable podcasts to reside on the micro-site directed at businesses about starting a wellness program; email blasts tailored to specific audiences (Sentara employees, Optima Health Health subscribers and potential customers) introducing The Wellness Payoff when it went “live;” a media campaign including a press release uploaded to PRNewswire and individual pitches to local, regional and statewide media; social media updates promoting the micro-site and program results (this was done internally); and small pay-per-click advertising campaigns on Facebook and Google AdWords (also done internally). The working budget for this project was $50,000, and the final cost was approximately $40,500.
While Sentara, the parent company, has had an active PR program for many years, this was the first major campaign for Optima, therefore much was riding on its success. Very quickly, however, the campaign was ruled a success when the local delegate to the Virginia Assembly called CEO Michael Dudley and expressed his admiration of the wellness program results that had been mentioned in a short article in the Virginian-Pilot. There were many other wonderful results, including regional and national media attention (including a front-page story in the Newport News Daily Press that jumped to the inside) and national speaking invitations.
This campaign has won a total of five awards. They include:
Three from the 2011 Virginia Press Women Communications Awards:
- First place for community relations campaigns;
- First place for videos;
- First place for podcasts.
In addition, it won:
- A Pinnacle Award from the Hampton Roads Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America; and
- A third-place national award from the National Federation of Press Women for podcasts.