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Let’s Raise a Glass to the Pittsburgh BGH and Others

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I recently attended the annual meeting of the Pittsburgh Business Group on Health.  it was a great session, and I am not just saying this because (future exhibitors and sponsors take note!) Quizzify got about 25 inquiries in the subsequent week, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette did a great follow-up article.  It was very favorable coverage because, as we had predicted to the reporter, WELCOA refused to challenge/rebut/comment. WELCOA doesn’t engage in intellectual or analytical debate for reasons that would become apparent if you read this write-up, which might cause a cynic to conclude that a beam of light leaving intelligence might not reach WELCOA headquarters for several seconds.

However, to WELCOA’s credit, they have finally learned how to spell their founder’s name. Hey, it’s a start.  Those who would like to see the original spelling (as well as many other greatest hits of WELCOA and their brethren) might want to visit This Is Your Brain on Wellness.

With uncharacteristic humility, I’ll admit I learned a lot at this conference.  In particular, I was very impressed by the wellness program at First Commonwealth Bank.  It was the best example I’ve ever seen of a CEO embracing a culture of wellness…and walking the walk by doing wellness for his employees instead of to them, for the most part.  One of the tests I recommend to see if a wellness program is valuable is to ask if you can brag about it in recruiting.  First Commonwealth Bank clearly can.

The Integrated Benefits Institute’s Tom Parry also gave a very insightful presentation on wellness economics, though I am not sure the opinions he intended to convey aligned 100% with the data on the slides, to put it gently.  Kudos to Nicole Ausmus for finding a head-scratcher in this presentation that I hadn’t even noticed — read her comment on this post.

In addition, the PBGH event was very well-produced in every respect…and the place was packed.

And I’d like to take a minute to — once again, with uncharacteristic humility — thank other organizations that did not buy into the wellness industry’s blacklisting of me following publication of the emperor-is-buck-naked best-seller Why Nobody Believes the Numbers.  The blacklisting made it possible for wellness to keep snookering customers, who (unless they attended conferences hosted by the folks listed below) had no way of knowing their vendors were making stuff up.

Two groups that never bought into the blacklisting, and for that I am disproportionately grateful, were the Population Health Alliance (which is hosting the Great Debate) and David Nash’s/Peter Grant’s Population Health Colloquium.

Next is the Silicon Valley Employers Foundation, whose Lauren Vela stepped up early.  Our presentation wasn’t popular, but we have gotten a lot of follow-up inquiries since then from attendees, including one apology for publicly disbelieving our conclusion.  Lauren took a lot of flak for the crime of being ahead of her time, but, Lauren, if you’re out there, thank you.

The National Business Coalition on Health (NBCH) was right out in front too, as were their affiliated organizations in the Northeast, Philadelphia, South Carolina and now Pittsburgh.  Note:  I know this is confusing (so don’t try to explain it to WELCOA), but the regional business groups/coalitions are loosely affiliated with NBCH, even if their name includes the phrase “Business Group on Health.”  They are NOT affiliated with the National Business Group on Health.

Still, even the moribund National Business Group on Health is making progress in understanding the need to present facts about wellness.  Example: the previous voicemail I left for them has gone unreturned for two years whereas the most recent has only been ignored for two weeks. (So much for my uncharacteristic humility.)

 


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