PORTLAND – Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon is announcing the roll-out of a distinctly different approach to workplace wellness. Unlike cookie-cutter programs that typically offer some mix of gym membership discounts, weight-loss classes and financial incentives or penalties, Regence’s integrated solution offers an innovative suite of tools that equip employers with what they need to establish a “culture of health” in the workplace. “We’re not out selling a product. We’re offering a new holistic approach that really makes a difference,” said Michael Cochran, Regence’s director of Wellness.

Regence’s Vitality solution, being released in conjunction with the launch of the completely updated regence.com site, addresses a simple, yet hugely important goal – the improvement of employee health and well-being. Vitality achieves this by increasing employee engagement, providing appealing tools and resources to help people achieve optimal health, and bending back the health care cost curve for employers and employees alike.

Numerous recent studies have proven that keeping employees healthy instead of waiting to treat them when they’re ill is an imperative. But it requires a different mindset – focusing on prevention-driven wellness versus event-driven health care. If there is an appropriate focus on prevention, experts say it’s possible to avoid many downstream health care expenses. And with U.S. companies reeling from the 77 percent increase in the cost of providing family health coverage for their employees over the past 10 years, the need for better expense management couldn’t be any clearer.

Other studies have shown that thoughtfully crafted wellness initiatives can go a long way toward delivering that improved expense management. A 2010 Health Affairs article reported a positive return on wellness programs – specifically, that medical costs fall by about $3.27 for every dollar spent on wellness programs and that absenteeism costs fall by about $2.73 for every wellness dollar spent. And the Harvard Business Review shares that Johnson & Johnson estimates that its wellness programs have cumulatively saved the company $250 million in health care costs over the last decade.

To help Regence customers and members move toward healthier bottom lines in every sense, the company has expansively upgraded its Vitality solution. Among the health care consumer-focused improvements are: a new General Health Assessment (GHA), 30+ new online wellness workshops (that are integrated with the GHA), a new customizable incentive platform, quarterly activity challenges, the ability to integrate biometrics into the GHA, a health coaching platform that is integrated with the GHA and the rest of the platform, patient decision aids through Healthwise®, fitness device integration (with fitbit® and FitLinxx®), dozens of meal plans, fitness and exercise plans, and robust reporting.

“Developing a culture of wellness is critical for employers wishing to protect their greatest asset – their employees. And we’re excited to be able to announce the availability of our extensively upgraded Vitality solution – and the promise of more to come,” added Angela Dowling, market president of Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon.

Read the “Creating a Culture of Health” white paper to learn more about Regence’s Vitality workplace wellness solution.

About Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon

Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon, headquartered in Portland, has been serving Oregonians since 1917 and now provides more than 750,000 members with comprehensive health insurance solutions. As a nonprofit independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, Regence is part of a family of companies dedicated to transforming health care by delivering innovative products and services that change the way consumers nationwide experience health care. For more information, please visit regence.com, facebook.com/regencebluecrossblueshield, or twitter.com/regenceoregon.