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Four steps to creating a personalized health solution

September 8, 2023

Every organization’s population, existing health risks and organizational goals are unique to them. So, it’s important not to settle for a one-size-fits-all health solution. Instead, consider these four steps that can help create a strategy that fits the organization’s specific needs and goals.

Weight: just one measure of health

Dr. Lia Gass Rodriguez, Chief Medical Officer

August 29, 2023

Headlines about celebrity weight-loss, trending hashtags on social media, publications in medical journals, health plans and employers concerned about rising drug costs – it feels like GLP-1 drugs are everywhere.  Though the widespread attention is recent, these drugs are not new.  The first drugs were originally approved in the early 2000s for use by people with diabetes.  Their effectiveness at lowering blood sugar coupled with a low side effect profile and impact on weight loss has led to many developments in the area.  And it is their impact on weight loss that has driven the extensive use. It is no surprise given the prevalence of obesity.  Some experts predict that by 2030 almost half of adults in the U.S. will have obesity and in 29 states the number of adults with obesity will be over 50%.1 On its own, obesity adds almost $173 billion to the annual cost of health care in the U.S.2 And when we zoom in to the impact to individuals – obesity has a significant impact on physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.3

We cannot address obesity without addressing the behaviors that contribute to it.

There is no dispute that weight loss can have a positive impact on health outcomes. These drugs and other medical interventions, like weight loss surgery, can play a significant role in promoting weight loss. However, we cannot address obesity without addressing the behaviors that contribute to it. Without that context, weight becomes just a number on a scale and weight loss may not be sustainable. An effective lifestyle coaching program can play an important role in helping people develop the long-lasting habits that not only help sustain weight loss but impact their whole health.

A successful approach to health must include building literacy around what a healthy lifestyle is and developing lasting behavior change.

A successful approach to health must include building literacy around what a healthy lifestyle is and developing lasting behavior change. Food doesn’t need unhealthy fats, added sugar and sodium to be a feast for our senses and provide the fuel our bodies need to function optimally. Physical activity doesn’t need to be restricted to running shoes or the gym. There are fun, creative ways to make it part of a daily routine – even in 10-minute bursts. We can acknowledge the connection between mind and body and recognize the impact that stress, depression and anxiety have on our physical health and develop long-lasting habits to address them. And we can help people understand how building strong social connections can help guard against the very real impact of loneliness and isolation.   These are all impactful contributors to well-being and lowered disease burden.

Innovations like the GLP-1 drugs can play a role in addressing a serious and growing health problem in this country. However, we need to reassert that reducing weight is only one measure when it comes to assessing health. Just as the number on the scale doesn’t guarantee health on its own, a solution simply focused on weight loss doesn’t adequately address the complexity of what makes a healthy person. To do that, we must put weight back into context in a broader definition of what is healthy and focus on whole person health solutions.



Enhance your solutions

August 25, 2023

You’re good at what you do. Let us help make you even better.

You strive to deliver excellent health care solutions, but you may want to expand what you have available to your customers. If that’s the case, look to ActiveHealth for innovative, scalable solutions that advance your analytics, health and well-being programs.

Five things to do before your next RFP cycle

July 31, 2023

Organizations spend more than two thirds of employee-related costs on wages and salaries.

The remaining amount goes to employee benefit packages. With that amount of expense attached, organizations need to be sure they’re spending their money wisely. Before you start your next RFP cycle, think about these five critical steps.

Three steps to turbo charge digital engagement

July 17, 2023

The numbers tell the story

More consumers are demanding online resources and digital health solutions for their ability to provide anytime, anywhere access to information. Technology conveniently fits into peoples’ busy schedules. Digital tools and apps are affordable (sometimes free), personalized and have the ability to deliver real-time feedback, recommendations and alerts. Integrating our powerful platform for online and mobile engagement in your health and well-being programs lets your members engage in ways that fit naturally in their daily lives. And that leads to better informed and more engaged employees.

Purpose-driven health

Scott Money, Senior Vice President, Account Management

June 14, 2023

Growing up, I recall being amazed with my dad’s ability to get things done. He had very specific companies and people that he would always call upon when doing any kind of business. From our family physician to our insurance agent, my dad understood the importance of long-standing relationships. He understood that loyalty and trust were important. His loyalty created the reciprocal effect, and he knew he could get a quick response and good quality service at any time. Many years later, I am still calling upon the same colleagues and organizations when I need a product or service, and I seek out relationships where I can find a trusted advisor to help me achieve my goals.

In my tenure at ActiveHealth, I have been amazed by the passion that I see every day in my colleagues and our customers.

We form relationships in all aspects of our lives. These relationships serve us in many different ways by helping us connect, share and build trust. The best relationships are reciprocal and form around a common purpose. It’s this purpose that drives all that we do at ActiveHealth.

Our purpose is to help our members achieve their best health. Our customers share this common goal, and they seek a relationship with ActiveHealth to help their employees and their families connect with the resources needed to better manage their health.

In my tenure at ActiveHealth, I have been amazed by the passion that I see every day in my colleagues and our customers. This shared passion powers the trusted relationship we form with every organization, clinician and member. It motivates us to engage with every member who needs support, and it drives us to raise awareness about healthy behaviors and preventive measures for everyone.

When we are able to lean on one another to support those we serve, we see strong, positive outcomes. I am confident that the relationships of mutual trust and respect that my team has built with their clients will continue to empower us to motivate every member to find their purpose in managing their health. In my role as leader of ActiveHealth Account Management, I look forward to building my own relationship with each of our clients, understanding their goals and helping them to achieve their vision for a healthier, more productive workforce.

Cultural concordance: a key component of personalization

Dr. Lia Gass Rodriguez, Chief Medical Officer

May 26, 2023

When I think about representation and the opportunity afforded to me as Chief Medical Officer of ActiveHealth Management, I always think about how grateful I am for the privileges that enabled me to be where I am today. First, though born in Massachusetts to Cuban parents, I was raised in Puerto Rico as part of a fairly homogenous society where everyone was Hispanic. As such, I didn’t feel the hardships that can come with living in a society that sees you as “other.” Second, my parents were progressive and always supportive of my aspirations. I wasn’t held back by the need to adhere to a traditional female construct and received their emotional and financial support to pursue my dreams of becoming a doctor.

I am committed to working with ActiveHealth to advocate for people who may not historically have had much of a voice

Having been given this opportunity to flourish, I now feel a responsibility to help mentor and eliminate barriers for people who didn’t have the same privilege. Knowing that only 2.4% of the physician workforce in the U.S. are Latin women*, one of my goals is to increase the number of people working to improve health outcomes for their larger community.  In my professional capacity, I’m involved in mentorship and as an advisor and speaker for leadership development courses for minority women.  As a visible minority physician leader, I can provide representation and serve as an enabler for women who may not have shared many of the privileges I have had in life.

I am committed to working with ActiveHealth to advocate for people who may not historically have had much of a voice. I am pushing to continue to evaluate each clinical program to see how it’s performing across demographics. Measuring our performance will allow us to identify opportunities to improve how we impact health outcomes.  In addition, as part of the strategy to address health disparities, I am driving for wider use of self-reported social determinants of health and demographic data to help make programs more culturally sensitive and relevant. By being mindful of cultural context, we can engage people and communicate in a way that honors their cultural traditions and identity while influencing behaviors that lead to healthier outcomes.

In collaboration with the rest of the ActiveHealth senior leadership team, we can augment the level of personalization of our programs to include cultural concordance. This will help us achieve the goal to help more than 27 million ActiveHealth members become healthier in body, mind and spirit – one person at a time. 


Measuring what matters: quality for all

Lia Gass Rodriguez, MD, Chief Medical Officer, and Scott D. Sobocinski, Pharm.D., Executive Director, Clinical Analytics

April 4, 2023

It’s been more than 30 years since the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) first developed the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS). Since 1991, it’s been a way for consumers to evaluate health plan performance against specific, standardized health metrics. Health plans have often leveraged these same metrics to assess provider quality in value-based contracting.  Focusing on areas like serious mental illness, heart disease, diabetes and asthma, HEDIS has been a useful tool to ensure that we’re addressing some of the most clinically prevalent and financially impactful health issues facing Americans.  As informative as HEDIS is, though, it doesn’t offer a full picture of the health improvement opportunities present in a population and how well we’re helping people address them.

When we’re asked “Aren’t HEDIS metrics enough?” The answer is unequivocally no, they're not.

Today, more than 200 million people are enrolled in health plans that report HEDIS results covering areas like prevention and screening, respiratory health, cardiovascular health, diabetes, musculoskeletal conditions, mental health and medication management.1 There’s no doubt that a large portion of the population is represented in those categories, but what about the people who aren’t?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 6 in 10 Americans have a chronic condition, and 4 in 10 have more than one.2 HEDIS doesn’t measure the efficacy of health care for all of them. For example, it’s estimated that about 25% of adults in the U.S have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD),3 around 37 million adults have chronic kidney disease4 and 50 million have one or more autoimmune disease.5 Though HEDIS may have metrics that address other facets of their health care, like preventive care, it doesn’t have metrics designed to evaluate the quality of the health care for these important conditions.

For almost 25 years, ActiveHealth has been committed to the idea that putting data-driven insights into the hands of members and providers can positively impact health outcomes. We built our proprietary CareEngine® technology specifically for the purpose of gathering vast amounts of health data and comparing it against evidence-based, independently validated clinical rules. Now, we have thousands of clinical rules covering more than 200 conditions, including the prevalent and costly conditions covered by HEDIS measures, as well as conditions like kidney disease, NAFLD, lupus and sickle cell disease. These conditions may be less prevalent in the general population, but are no less devastating to people living with them.

HEDIS was conceived to provide a standardized metric of health care efficacy, and it does so admirably. But when we’re asked “Aren’t HEDIS metrics enough?” The answer is unequivocally no, they’re not. Having the clinical depth and breadth to include people already covered by HEDIS and to also look beyond the generally accepted metrics allows us to find care gaps that can be easily missed. We can identify opportunities for people to improve their individual health, intervene in meaningful ways and positively impact their lives and the lives of those who love them.



Navigating the flood: healthy eating for a lifetime

Dr. Lia Gass Rodriguez, Chief Medical Officer

March 3, 2023

Most of the major health issues affecting our country today can be tied to an unhealthy diet. Eating a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help lower your risk for some chronic conditions. It’s also important to avoid foods high in salt, sugar and saturated fat, as these can increase the risk of heart disease.

Putting that into practice isn’t always easy. There are a lot of terms on food labels and in food advertising that can make it seem like a food is healthier than it is. For example, if the first ingredient in your bread isn’t whole grain flour, it’s not as “whole grain” as you might think. “Low sugar,” “low fat,” “lite” and “light” actually have specific definitions manufacturers have to meet, but most people don’t know what they are. And those terms might not actually equal healthier.

To add to the confusion, there’s a disconnect between recommendations from trusted sources of information. The internet has given us easy access to dietary recommendations from governments and health agencies all over the world, but they don’t always align. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends no more than 12 teaspoons of sugar per day for adults,1 but the American Heart Association recommends about half that amount for adult women.2 American guidelines align with Canada’s in many ways. For example, making about half your plate fruits and vegetables. However, they differ as well. Canada recommends a more plant-based approach to eating and doesn’t recommend that adults drink milk.

Some practical, common-sense tips can help you design a healthy dietary pattern for a lifetime.

So how do we make sense of this flood of recommendations? Some practical, common-sense tips can help you design a healthy dietary pattern for a lifetime.

  • Be aware of how much sugar you’re getting in your food and drinks. We need some sugar in our diets as fuel, but we should lean more heavily on the naturally occurring sugars that come from fruits and vegetables. They also give us much-needed vitamins, minerals and fiber. Many processed foods include sweeteners added for flavor that don’t enhance the nutritional content. You can use spices, like cinnamon and vanilla, to boost your food’s flavor without adding sugar.
  • Step away from the saltshaker. Generally, we get far too much sodium in our diets. Some of it occurs naturally in foods, like sugar. Companies add more during processing, we add more during cooking and then we add more again at the table. Try to limit the amount of highly processed foods you serve, and if you’re going to keep salt on your table, try not to cook with it. Flavorful herbs and spices, not to mention citrus, can help you build a meal that’s a treat for the senses without adding salt.
  • Cook with healthier fats. Yes, butter can be delicious, but cooking with too much of it isn’t good for your heart or your waistline. Instead, reach for healthier fats like olive oil. It’s widely available and can be part of a heart-healthy diet. It also doesn’t smoke as quickly as butter does, which can make cooking a more pleasant experience.
  • Don’t just think of the foods you shouldn’t eat – think of those you should eat more of! Find fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains and legumes you enjoy and find creative ways to add more of them in your day-to-day eating!

Whatever changes you decide to make, try to set realistic goals. If your family enjoys eating meat, becoming fully vegetarian overnight could be unsustainable. Instead, you can choose lean meats, like fish and poultry. You can also set aside a couple of days a week for meatless meals. Just be sure to check the labels if you’re using a meat substitute. Some of them are also highly processed, and that can be its own problem.

When you do make that luscious Beef Wellington, make it an event and feed your spirit. Dress the table, light the candles and really enjoy the whole experience. There’s nothing like sharing a delicious meal with people you love. Enjoy!

In their own words: hear from ActiveHealth members

February 9, 2023

What does healthy mean to you?

Whether our members are working one-on-one with a coach, joining live group coaching sessions or using digital resources, the impact is clear. Watch this short video to hear what ActiveHealth members have to say.