Population Health: Producing a Healthy Workforce With LivingWell

October 12, 2015 | Shelby Seibold

Health care is full of buzzwords, and one you may have heard lately is “population health.” While the term’s definition varies, the common thread is the improvement of health in the communities we serve.

“The vision behind population health is both anchored and inspired by Adventist Health’s deep roots in health and wellness — roots that maintain a stronghold on our way of thinking, behaving and being,” says Tom Russell, Adventist Health population health innovations vice president. “It’s about influencing the populations we serve in a way that drives health and wellness for everyone.”

Adventist Health believes improving the health of the population begins at home with employees and their families — that’s why we’ve implemented the LivingWell program, which was originally created at Adventist Medical Center in Portland, Oregon, to encourage a whole-person health approach to a healthy lifestyle.

“Our mission is to share God’s love by providing physical, mental and spiritual healing, and we believe that includes our employees,” says Russell. “We decided to focus on how we could take action and make a positive difference in the health of our team.”

The mission of healing doesn’t stop with Adventist Health employees — in fact, it’s only the beginning. The LivingWell program produces a healthy and happy workforce that can better serve patients and the community by focusing on whole-person health of the mind, body and spirit. Less time away on sick leave means better continuity within the team, increasing trust and communication, and positively impacting the patient experience and clinical outcomes.

Lisa,* a nurse at Adventist Medical Center, has experienced the positive effects of the LivingWell program firsthand. Even with a strong background in public health, Lisa says that she’s learning new things every day in her blood sugar class, which is part of the employee health program.

“Here I am at 62 with a bachelor’s and master’s, and there are still things I’m learning,” says Lisa. “I just learned that a little bit of exercise after meals can bring your blood sugar down two or three points within the next few hours.”

In addition to learning how to control her blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol, Lisa sets goals with her care manager for the Adventist Health employee health plan. Together, they talk about Lisa’s exercise goals and progress. This healthier lifestyle has also positively affected Lisa’s personal life and goals for the future.

“It was good for our relationship to be able to go on walks together,” Lisa says of her husband of nearly 27 years. “We have that whole period of time to chat. Plus, when I retire, I want to be healthy enough that when we travel, I can walk a few miles without wearing out.”

Though the terminology may be different and the concepts may seem new, the roots of population health lie in Adventism’s journey to health and wellness since its birth.

“The Adventist Church has been known for health and wellness for years, and Adventist Health is a part of that journey,” says Russell. “It’s all about the people and keeping them in the center of care. That’s what Christ did.”