Third Edition | May 2012

MHealthy Leadership Update Inside this issue: A word from Tim Slottow | How are we doing? | MHealthy's Three Year Evaluation | Priorities for 2013


Tim Slottow photo "" Faculty and staff who have been ongoing, active participants in MHealthy programs are on average healthier and miss less time at work than they did in 2009. They also have lower health care costs compared to non-participants. These are just a few of the findings from MHealthy's third-year evaluation funded by the Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research and the Health Management Research Center.

I am encouraged by the positive numbers shown in many health risk areas and the statistically significant improvement over the past three years. We continue to refine our MHealthy programs and initiatives to improve the health of our UM community. The data from the third year evaluation indicate that we are moving in the right direction and making progress toward our long-term goals.

I invite you to take some time to read this report and learn more about the important trends we're seeing in MHealthy. I'd also like to thank those of you who have been key contributors to this progress by providing leadership in promoting this cause and creating healthy workplace cultures within your areas.

How are we doing? MHealthy's Progress


From the start of our five-year plan, we have focused our programs on helping low-risk individuals stay healthy and helping those with health risks and health conditions have the information and resources they need to improve their health. 

Specifically, we want to:

  • Reduce the percentage of the U-M benefits-eligible population classified as high risk by 5 percentage points by the end of 2013. As of the end of 2011, we are at 2.1 percentage points.

  • Increase the percentage of those individuals classified as low risk by 5 percentage points by the end of 2013. Our three-year report shows a 4.1 percentage point increase since 2009.


Risk Status




2009 to 2011

Low (0-2 risks)





Medium (3-5 risks)





High (6+ risks)





Average Number Risks





*Change 2009 to 2011 statistically significant (p< 0.05)



More than 55 percent of our benefits-eligible population participated in the annual MHealthy Rewards program in 2011, and more than 28,700 people have participated at least once in MHealthy’s first three years.

Participation in the annual health questionnaire at the university, in general, surpasses that of other organizations offering a similar incentive, according to StayWell, the national health risk management vendor that provides the screenings and serves approximately 1.1 million people.

Active U, MHealthy’s 12-week physical activity challenge, drew more than 12,000 participants in its sixth year, and Active U Autumn, which was launched in 2011, attracted more than 9,400 participants.


Similar to how University Unions created an indoor walking route to help motivate employees to move during colder months (spotlighted in our last issue), we continue to see and hear about innovative ways departments and leaders are fostering healthy workplace cultures.

"" More than 400 staff and faculty are MHealthy Champion volunteers. They serve two-year terms, promoting MHealthy and organizing workplace activities such as healthy potlucks, walks, Active U teams and more.

MHealthy programs and services consistently ranked over 4.0 on a 5.0 scale for overall satisfaction by customers. As one staff member recently wrote to a health educator in our weight management program:

"Since we last talked, I've lost 40 pounds and I'm now walking regularly. I couldn't have done this without your help and support when I was in the MHealthy class and then the follow up. Thank you!"

MHealthy's Three Year Evaluation

"" In 2010, MHealthy partnered with the Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research (MICHR) and the the Health Management Research Center to establish and lead a multi-year evaluation of MHealthy that includes assessing participation rates, satisfaction, health risk reduction, healthy culture changes, claims cost differences for participants vs. nonparticipants, and return on investment. MHealthy's three-year evaluation was recently completed using data derived from medical and pharmacy costs from 2008-2010 and Health Risk Appraisal data from 2009-2011.




Some key findings: Individual Health Risk Prevalence: The chart above shows the percentage of HRA participants considered to be at risk for each of nine different risk factors, ranked in decreasing order according to prevalence in 2009. With the exception of physical inactivity, the individual categories showed statistically significant improvement from 2009 to 2011.

Absenteeism: Self-reported absenteeism due to illness decreased from 3.97 days per year to 3.74 days.

Total Health Care Costs: Combining medical and pharmacy costs to get “total health care costs,” the chart to the left shows rates of increase were significantly greater for non-HRA participants as compared to the three-time HRA participants. Given the near equal baseline costs, this supports an association with costs (i.e. bending the trend).

Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research and the evaluation team also plans to move forward with MHealthy's overall evaluation plan, including fourth- and fifth-year observations, a follow-up on changes in biometric measures, the linkage of program participation directly with health risks, and a broader assessment of work culture that will allow the university to focus on policies that enhance sustainability of changes. Additionally, the Health Management Research Center conducted a  faculty and staff culture survey to help evaluate and improve U-M's ongoing wellness efforts.

Priorities for 2013

We are making measurable progress toward our long-term goals. In FY2013, we will continue to:

  1. "" Build participation in healthy behaviors.

  2. Engage leaders and MHealthy champions in creating healthy workplace cultures.

  3. Implement strategies that provide environmental and infrastructure support for good health, such as the Smoke-Free Campus Initiative, our healthy eating efforts and improving access to physical activity opportunities.

  4. Implement the key recommendations of the Stress Management Task Force at the individual, social and organizational levels.

  5. Implement the recommendations of the Back Care Task Force.

  6. Implement wellness programs targeted at high risk groups.

  7. Seek national recognition and share experiences with other organizations to advance knowledge in the field (e.g. we are organizing a national summit for Universities interested in learning and sharing about workplace health promotion programs).

  8. Seek input from representatives throughout the university on creating our next MHealthy five-year strategic plan (2014-2018).


A Word from Tim Slottow How Are We Doing? MHealthy's Three Year Evaluation Priorities for 2013