Getting To The ROI Of A Wellness Program; You Need Measures And Analytics

The New Year is still young and there is still time to adopt another new resolution. Yeah, zeroing in on your wellness program’s return-on-investment (ROI.)

The ROI ‘issue’ is not going away. So let’s hunker down and figure out ways to successfully prove the winning results of your organization’s wellness or health promotion program.

The future for wellness professionals includes a healthy dose of doing those calculations surrounding the performance of your program.

But it is not without “measurement conundrums,” according to Larry Chapman, MPH, founder of the founder of Chapman Institute and a leading authority and thought leader on workplace wellness.

“One of the first issues is risk stratification as a core to our programming and how does it offer us better measurement opportunities,” he said during a workshop sponsored by Wellness Program Management Advisor and the Wellness Management Information Center.

“Think about the role of a health risk assessment and the ability for us to identify different risk strata groups and then deal with the role of incentives and communications in helping people that are actually in those risk categories make use of the programs and the interventions that we structure for them,” he urged.

Every place where a wellness manager sees a line here or a dotted line, “you can


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essentially deal with measurement,” he observed. “We do have the potential to have a much greater ability to measure wellness and its different aspects as we move more toward a risk stratification type of approach toward wellness.”

Metrics, Needs, Behavioral Change

Citing the analytic framework developed by Dee Eddington at the University of Michigan’s Health Management Research Center, Chapman offered that “it deals with the metrics that are then essentially attached to each of them, areas of need and then interventions, then into intermediate effects which include behavioral change and healthier people, maybe biometrically derived, or maybe cohort data from HRAs to help us see more about what is happening in the population.”

“It can also be an annual evaluation form which allows people to respond to their own self – self-prescribed productivity,” he added.

Chapman pointed to what he called the “ultimate impact derivable economic gains.” These are in the areas where we “tend to look to ways of casting the monetary value or the economic value of worker health and then the potential economic gains which are much more difficult for us to evaluate but also are of real interest to employers in terms of being able to have as beneficial an outcome in each of those.”

Another ‘piece’ in terms of conundrums, he said, is that “we need to measure our return-on-investment, but in order to measure return on investment it usually takes a significant investment of capital.

It could be somewhere between $75,000 at the low end and up to about $400,000 at the high end in terms of having an outside firm come in and do a detailed claims analysis for a population of say over 10,000. But that needs to be measured, Chapman noted.

Chapman is also the author of “Proof Positive an Analysis of the Cost Effectiveness of Worksite Wellness.”

The web site address for the Chapman Institute is


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