Onlife Health Partners with Government Employees Health Association on Innovative Blood Pressure Pilot
Project used health coaches to help more than half of participants lower their blood pressure in one year
Nashville, Tenn., February 26, 2014 - Participants successfully improved their blood pressure in a pilot project last year sponsored by Onlife Health, a national health and wellness company, and Government Employees Health Association (GEHA), the second-largest national health plan for federal employees.
Over a 12-month period, more than half of program participants lowered their blood pressure, nearly 10 percent were able to maintain their blood pressure, and many saw their health improve enough to move from a hypertensive or pre-hypertensive status to a healthier state. Although the initial pilot was relatively small, just 156 patients, GEHA is significantly expanding the program in 2014.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three American adults – 67 million individuals – has high blood pressure. High blood pressure costs the United States more than $47 billion in direct medical expenses and $3.5 billion in lost productivity each year. It is a major risk factor for heart and kidney diseases, stroke, and heart failure. In fact, it is estimated that 69 percent of people who have a first heart attack, 77 percent of people who have a first stroke, and 74 percent of people with chronic heart failure have high blood pressure. Data shows that less than half of those with high blood pressure have their condition under control.
“High blood pressure is an especially dangerous health risk because there are often no warning signs or symptoms associated with it,” said Jed Dodd, CEO of Onlife Health. “It also can be difficult to change because it is influenced by so many factors including diet and weight. Our expertise leveraging health coaches to help individuals make and maintain significant health and lifestyle changes seemed an obvious fit for this project, and the great results show what a tremendous impact an experienced coach can have on an individual’s health and wellness. It is also significant that 75 percent of those who started this coaching program completed it. We believe this speaks to the participant satisfaction with the coaching and the value they felt the coaches brought to the program.”
In Onlife Health’s and GEHA’s pilot project, Onlife coaches worked with GEHA members to educate them about the risks of high blood pressure. Throughout the first year, coaches helped participants make more informed choices and lifestyle changes aimed at lowering their blood pressure. Participants also used a variety of online tools to manage and monitor their progress.
Teresa, a homemaker from Las Cruces, New Mexico, participated in the pilot project and achieved optimal blood pressure levels within the first two months.
“I had no idea what kinds of changes I could make to improve my blood pressure,” she said. “The scheduled calls with my health coach motivated me to stick with my plan, and the tracking tools helped me see the correlation between my changes in diet and activity and the positive effect it had on my blood pressure.”
For Teresa, access to daily evaluations and simple advice such as drinking three 8-ounce glasses of milk each day, filling one-half of her plate with vegetables at mealtimes, and maintaining a diet that emphasized eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, and nuts, gave her the information and motivation she needed to improve her high blood pressure.
“This pilot project demonstrates how health coaches can influence a wellness program,” added Dodd. “Coaches can give people access to advice and appropriately tailor inspiration to change their lives. When this kind of expertise and support is paired with the right technology, the results can be dramatic.”