Wellness programs are designed to promote better health and prevent disease, and consequently they reduce the burden on the health care system. MassHealth, the state Medicaid program, asked UMass Medical School’s Center for Health Policy and Research to design and implement a member wellness program as part of the state’s 2006 health care reform act.
Known as MassHealthy, the program encourages and supports MassHealth members in adopting and maintaining healthy lifestyle practices through a variety of methods including:
- Member outreach and education,
- Provider outreach and education,
- Infrastructure development, and
- Member rewards program (in the planning stages).
In addition to overall wellness and healthy lifestyle, MassHealthy targets five key areas:
- Smoking cessation,
- Diabetes screening for early detection,
- Teen health,
- Cancer screening for early detection (breast, cervical, colon, and oral), and
- Stroke education.
Now in its third year, MassHealthy has co-sponsored or created several successful outreach programs. By co-sponsoring the Department of Public Health’s Stroke FAST (Face, Arm, Speech, Time) initiative, MassHealthy provided key information on how to identify stroke symptoms. The MassHealthy program’s own outreach to new members is built on the national Ask Me Three campaign to help patients communicate with their doctors more effectively.
In addition, MassHealthy is working with the Center for Health Policy and Research’s clinical communications team to promote the wellness program with focused provider trainings and focus groups for providers and members.