Save Money, Improve Health with DukeWell

1,877 employees and their dependents participated in program in 2012

Bill Broom, an IT analyst at Duke, participates in an Aqua Challenge class at the Duke Health & Fitness Center. He purchased the gym membership with savings from the DukeWell program. Photo by Duke Photography.

Bill Broom walked, lifted weights and tried aerobics to lose weight and control his diabetes, but nothing seemed to stick - except the pounds.

Then last summer, Broom received an email from DukeWell, a disease management initiative offered to staff and faculty covered by Duke Select and Duke Basic, Duke's most popular health plans. Broom was offered a deal: connect monthly with a care management team, and the pharmacy co-payments for many prescription medicines would be waived. He took it.

"I was looking for an opportunity to engage in a program that I would continue with," said Broom, an IT analyst for Art, Art History & Visual Studies. "With DukeWell, I figured I wouldn't lose any money, and I actually stood to gain."

DukeWell identifies and treats chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease early when treatments provide maximum benefit. Care managers help participants coordinate self-care through diet and exercise prescribed by physicians. They also work closely with departments across the health system, including LIVE FOR LIFE, Duke's employee wellness program, to offer resources and support.

"It is a unique partnership between Duke, employees and the primary care physicians who care for these employees," said Bill Schiff, DukeWell administrative director. "By helping to coordinate chronic disease management proactively with the patient and the physicians, the program's focus is to make it less likely that chronic diseases will develop into major health issues down the road."

Employees access the program by completing a Health Risk Assessment through DukeWell or by physician referral. As more employees and physicians become familiar with DukeWell, participation in the program has increased - 1,877 employees and their dependents participated last year compared to 1,623 in 2011. 

As a group, employees in DukeWell do better at managing weight, blood sugar and other indicators of health than employees with chronic diseases who are not in the program, said Dr. Dev Sangvai, medical director for DukeWell and a primary care physician with Duke Family Medicine.  

"I know that when I advise a patient in DukeWell to lose weight or make other changes to better manage their disease, that they will have ongoing support," he said. 

Since Broom, the IT analyst, joined DukeWell last summer, he has worked closely with his care manager. He's lost an average of two pounds per month and has kept his blood pressure and blood sugar well under control. 

"The day I successfully completed the first 90-day trial with DukeWell, I signed up for a one-year membership at the Duke Health & Fitness Center," he said. "I wanted to avail myself of some more strenuous exercise in a controlled setting, and that was made possible in part by the savings I realized through DukeWell."