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We Caught a Wellness Vendor Doing Something Right: US Preventive Medicine

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For a year now, we’ve been outing wellness vendors whose endless stream of rookie mistakes in outcomes calculations (that somehow always seem to overstate savings) has provided a correspondingly endless stream of mirth and merriment to our expanding cadre of visitors, whose numbers now exceed 50,000 in total.

During this period, like Diogenes, we’ve been searching for an honest, competent wellness vendor, one that we could highlight to show that we are not simply mean-spirited anti-wellnites who for some unknown reason were intent on denying employees the opportunity to become healthy.

Diogenes had it easy compared to us.

Quite literally we have sifted through hundreds of wellness vendors.  Some are just a few fries short of a Happy Meal. They get highlighted in our popular On the Even Lighter Side compilation. Some have very squirelly data.  They win Golden Squirrel Awards. Others, well, we’re not calling anybody scoundrels but let’s just say they could never be confused with Mother Theresa.  They get Smoking Guns, featuring questions that buyers can ask them based on their own claims that can’t be answered.

None of these vendors or any other wellness vendor, it is worth noting, have managed to receive validation from the Intel-GE Care Innovations Validation Institute, despite the obvious advantages of a respected third-party’s endorsement…and the offer by They Said What? to remove all unflattering references to them if they achieved such validation, as many non-wellness companies have,

Finally, however, our quest for an honest and competent wellness vendor is rewarded.  US Preventive Medicine has both achieved validation for its contractual language and has compiled an enviable record–across its entire book of business–of event reduction.  The full press release can be viewed here.

Further, they measure risk factors on the entire population, which is valid, not just the highs-to-lows.

We applaud their willingness to attempt validation but especially the results they’ve achieved and the contracts that codify those results, assuring that their customers will also receive validation should they choose to apply for it.


14 Comments

  1. Rob says:

    If you have only found one “competent” wellness vendor, then you either haven’t looked very hard, or you are just purveying a cynical attitude with the intent of trying to sell more books.

    Your opinions carry very little weight in the world of employers and health systems, because you are so obviously maligned with the intent of creating controversy so you may gain on a financial basis.

    Good luck in your quest to unnecessarily scare consumers and bilk them out of hard-earned money. Ironically, that is exactly what you accuse wellness vendors of doing.

    Like

    • whynobodybelievesthenumbers says:

      Please recommend another wellness vendor who is willing to be validated by such an august organization and we will highlight them too.

      “Consumers” are onto this scam, which is why participation rates are so low. And newsflash: people lie on their health risk assessments, at least on this planet.

      PS If you google me hard enough, you’ll find I “gained on a financial basis” much more when I told people to do wellness and disease management. I just couldn’t keep doing it once I figured out the numbers didn’t add up. Google on “Founding Father of Disease Management Astonishingly Declares:’My Kid Is Ugly.'” It’s called “integrity” and some of your colleagues might wanna try it.

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  2. Rob says:

    I don’t speak for “such organizations”, so it isn’t my decision as to whether or not wellness companies decide that a third party recommendation carries any merit. I am not in the wellness “industry”, as you suggest, but I do know plenty of great wellness and care management companies. And given your proclivities for jaded commentary, I don’t think any would seek out such an “exalted” recommendation from your site.

    You show your true colors with your comments, your titles to your articles and the inappropriately dramatic images your portray. Is “Jihad” really an appropriate term and context for wellness? And how does a picture of Lance Armstrong relate to your article? There are literally thousands of people within the wellness industry who go to work each day for the betterment of the health of consumers. For you to paint with such a broad brush and accuse them of lacking integrity is an insult, and a ridiculous conclusion to reach.

    And yes – people lie. They lie all the time – not just relating to their health. People are responsible for their own actions, so if they decide to lie on an HRA, it isn’t the fault of an HRA. It is the fault of the individual. Do you not advocate for personal responsibility and accountability in this country? People lying is somehow unique to the wellness industry now in your opinion? And the wellness industry is somehow responsible when people do choose to deceive? Thankfully an HRA does not a wellness program make. But thanks for that “news flash”, anyway. To singly, or even majorily attribute “low” participation in wellness programs to a perceived “scam” is an alarmingly ignorant conclusion to reach.

    I am always concerned with the egos of those who ask you to “google” them. It implies narcissism, and it is clear evidence that you are in this “fight” for all the wrong reasons.

    So if you had a crisis of conscience while in the “industry”, then that is your personal issue and your cross to bear. It doesn’t mean that others believe what you believe, nor does it make it a universal truth, as you seem to imply.

    If you felt the numbers “didn’t add up”, then maybe you could have used your knowledge and experiences to help the industry more accurately gauge the health and financial impact of wellness programs and technology, instead of the misanthropic, misguided, Jerry Springer like pablum that you produce now. You seem to fancy yourself as some sort of whistleblower, when in fact you are simply finding a short angle for profit.

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    • whynobodybelievesthenumbers says:

      that is exactly what I did. I did prove the numbers don’t add up. Have you read our scholarly publications in Health Affairs or American Journal of Managed Care? Have you seen our deconstruction of the HERO Guidelines? And we are doing just the opposite of a “short angle for profit.” Quizzify offers a 100% guarantee of savings (validated by Intel-GE Care Innovations Validation Institute) and a guarantee of higher engagement because it fact he have built a better mousetrap. That is a “short term angle for loss” unless we have built the better mousetrap.

      The facts aren’t fitting your narrative. But rather than argue, let’s bet: name a figure (has to be a big one) and we’ll both submit our arguments pro and con to a panel of leading health economists (loser pays their fees), winner take all.

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  3. Rob says:

    Trying to paint yourself as a scholar? Am I to understand that you consider habitual name calling, farcical “awards” categories and negative commentary to be scholarly endeavors? An article or two does not a scholar make.

    I am sure there are many experts that can weigh in on an opinion without the need for fees. Not everybody does things for the almighty dollar. But I’ll be happy to refute some of your rhetoric and provide a little context to provide a bit of fair balance to your positions. While there are ills in any industry, it isn’t the conspiracy you try to color it out to be.

    If you feel your Quizzify product is superior to others, then let it compete on the open market and succeed or fail on its own merits. Nobody likes a salesperson that has to speak poorly about its competition to make itself look good.

    And just because you say “the facts aren’t fitting your narrative”, you don’t have any dominion over those facts to make your opinion the truth. You may choose not to believe the facts because they don’t fit your plan to gain quick notoriety and achieve a revenue stream of publishing books and adding to your forensic/litigation consulting practice. You may have created your own bully pulpit to gain supporters of your point of view, but it doesn’t mean that it accurately reflects the broader reality.

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    • whynobodybelievesthenumbers says:

      Actually I’ve had quite a number of articles published and I guest-lecture at both the Harvard School of Public Health and The Harvard Medical School.

      How about, you identify yourself and take me up on my bet offer? in fact, let me make this very easy for you. in the next 2 weeks, I’ll post a million-dollar reward offer for anyone who can show that it is more likely than not (meaning a very low bar) that wellness gets the 2-1 return that all your buddies claim.

      And by the way, we did launch Quizzify recently, very quietly because there is too much initial interest for us to pursue the leads. That’s what happens when you’re Intel-GE validated, offer a 100% guarantee of savings, and present a format that is actually fun to use.

      Like

  4. Shand says:

    Al, I think you should draw a brighter line between the phony math and lying vendors and the good-faith efforts that wellness professionals themselves make, when working one-on-one with employees. That might be Rob’s issue. He does seem to have an anger management problem and also isn’t much for reading comprehension of the stuff you’ve written, but he has a point in that you don’t want to tar the worker bees.

    Like

    • whynobodybelievesthenumbers says:

      My bad! Yes, the vendors and consultants make stuff up — that is simple math and has been proven in case after case on this site. But you’re right. There are many wellness coaches and professionals who are totally committed to their jobs and really want to help employees. it isn’t their fault their bosses lie about outcomes or make employees get screened for things they shouldn’t, in order to earn higher profits. The reason people become wellness coaches is to help others improve their lives. I absolutely want to acknowledge that.

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  5. Mary says:

    I would recommend deleting the whole thread. What USPM did was really great and should be celebrated, as you have noted. This thread detracts from that by bringing in vituperativeness and typical wellness vendor defensiveness

    Like

  6. Al Lewis says:

    Mary, one thing we have here is total transparency. Because among the other questionable things wellness vendors do is not allow opposing comments on their sites or challenging questions in their webinars (Wellsteps), we like to be just the opposite — welcoming all comments, no matter how misinformed. (This guy can’t find any mistakes in my math but says others can, though no one ever has.)

    Like

  7. Brian Welch says:

    I have to agree mostly with Mr. Lewis. In attempting to understand what can be done to build an effective wellness program, I have spent hours upon hours reading articles, participating in forums and asking questions of people with much more experience than myself. I swear that this industry is dedicated to creating buzzwords rather than getting people healthy.

    I read how I could “focus my wellness program with big data analytics.”

    What does that even mean? How about this: Sally is employed by my client, she’s 25 or 30 pounds overweight and pre-diabetic. She does OK with her eating during the day, but has a tendency to get up at 2:00 AM and eat ice cream sandwiches when nobody is looking. Tell me how I can get Sally to stop doing that. Then I will have learned something.

    Like

  8. Rob says:

    Unfortunately Mr. Lewis has censored comments I made in response. He professes transparency, but does he does exactly what he blames wellness companies of doing – lying.

    Like

    • whynobodybelievesthenumbers says:

      actually your rants were just getting boring — I put two up and that was plenty. Tell ya what, why don’t you come to the debate with Goetzel and you can boo me? That seems to be the level at which wellness true believers operate. Troy Adams of Wellsteps, who is Steve Aldana’s enforcer, “rebutted” my post pointing out that they contradicted themselves by saying I was full of “hot air.” How old are we?

      Tell ya what–if you want to comment non-anonymously, with a legitimate corporate URL and first and last name, findable on linkedin — I’ll happily post whatever rants you want me to.

      Like

  9. I pointed out a fact that you claim transparency in a previous comment, yet you censored comments. And your chosen response? Name calling…which is exactly the charge you are levying against the wellness industry.

    These are facts. Not rants. As someone who claims himself to be a scholar, I would have thought you to know the difference.

    Like

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