Camden County Receives Award for Health Benefits Innovation

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(Camden, NJ) – Camden County is among four recipients of The Greater Philadelphia Business Coalition on Health’s (GPBCH) inaugural Health Benefits Innovation Awards. The county is being recognized for its use of wellness coaches to support a comprehensive health and wellness strategy.

County Freeholder Carmen Rodriguez, the freeholder board’s liaison to the Department of Health and Human Services, said she was proud of what the initiative has done so far for the county’s employees.

“Living healthy is hard,” Rodriguez said. “We want people to have the information and guidance that they need to make the right choices, and to live long and healthy lives. Hopefully this recognition inspires other employers to make similar changes that benefit their workers.”

Camden County’s innovation centered around developing a program which allowed county employees to seek one-on-one counseling with a wellness professional. That full-time professional is available throughout the week at 15 different locations, and via telecommunication and Skype, to “coach” beneficiaries in a variety of ways, including: nutrition and healthy eating, exercise, weight loss, stress, blood pressure, smoking cessation, how to deal with chronic issues, and how to avoid work-related injuries.

So far, this program has helped 736 employees get “coached” over 4,000 times. Those who have consulted with the county’s wellness coach for weight-related issues have already experienced a reduced rate of obesity by 10 percent, and those coached for high blood pressure have experienced a reduction in the rate of hypertension by 66 percent.

Officials hope that the resulting wellness boost for county employees will not only be beneficial to their well-being, but will reduce future healthcare costs which currently make up the second-largest expense in the county’s budget.

“When it comes to people’s health and their benefits you can never stop working,” Rodriguez said. “Our goal is to constantly be trying new ways to innovate the system, and get our people the best service we can. That means finding better ways not only to address illnesses and injuries that have already occurred, but to prevent other health-related problems from ever coming to be.”

Representatives from the county attended the GPBCH Annual Conference to present the initiative for which the county has been awarded. Representatives from the other award winners – Amerigas, Drexel University, and Toll Brothers – presented their award-winning innovations as well.

The Greater Philadelphia Business Coalition on Health is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the value of health benefit spending for its members. The GPBCH service area includes southeastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and the state of Delaware. The organization currently represents over 750,000 individuals in the region and 1.5 million individuals nationwide, and is a member of the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions.