Collaborating on Good Health

Emily Fitzpatrick, Twincraft

Twincraft’s new health center offers a model for employer-supported wellness.

Wellness is not an initiative at Twincraft Skincare, it’s a company ethos. “We’re not just hanging posters about a walk-a-thon in the break room,” says Michele Asch, vice president of leadership and organizational development. “We’re asking how we can have a real impact on the health of our employees.”

Last year, with support from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont’s (Blue Cross) Accountable Blue program, Twincraft opened the Summit Employers Health Center in partnership with Marathon Health. The employer-owned health and wellness center offers all 300-plus Twincraft employees free access to health care and wellness coaching, regardless of insurance coverage. Spouses and domestic partners of employees that are on Twincraft’s health insurance are also eligible for center services.

“When we took a step back and really looked at the whole system, we realized that high costs and the current delivery method for health care are barriers for many of our employees, some of whom had not been to the doctor in twenty years. When we don’t have systems that support people's lives, families, and livelihood, we need to create them,” said Michele.

An investment in good health

Opened in September 2020, the Summit Employers Health Center, provides care for common illnesses, fills prescriptions, and offers a comprehensive biometric screening followed by a 45-minute wellness appointment with a nurse practitioner. The screening measures health indicators such as body mass index, blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol, the results of which are used to create an ongoing wellness plan with the nurse practitioner. And it’s all completely free.

Twincraft account manager Emily Fitzpatrick and her husband have been working with the health coach to improve their diet since last November. “I have more energy; I feel better now that I’m eating less carbs and sugar. That in and of itself just makes your days, your weeks, your months better. And we’re doing it together, so it’s been fun. We’re trying all kinds of new things!”

By uncovering and treating health issues early on, she believes employees will be empowered to prevent the kinds of major illnesses or injuries that can derail their lives—both physically and financially. “These are not just employees, they are people. The health and happiness of employees who are in control of their wellbeing is the true metric of success.”

Encouraging participation

To that end, Twincraft went well beyond a mass email to encourage participation. The company worked with their Blue Cross Accountable Blue representative, Kim Langlais, to look at examples of how other companies effectively promoted wellness programs, and developed a plan to meet with small groups to explain the benefits of biometric screening and wellness coaching in-depth, after which each employee was offered a $50 cash incentive to make the appointment.

“It doesn’t work if no one goes,” said Michele, who drew on Kim’s experience to design the outreach and incentive plan. “As important as the financial support we received from Accountable Blue to open the center was the wealth of knowledge, case studies, and the deep understanding of health care in Vermont that Kim brought to the table.”

Between September and December 2020, approximately 25 percent of Twincraft employees utilized the new health and wellness center, a number Michele expects to rise in 2021.

A model for Vermont

Both Kim and Michele see the Summit Employers Health Center as a model for employer-supported wellness. Nationwide, employers are looking for innovative ways to control costs and provide quality health care to their employees. But one size does not fit all, and Vermonters have a tradition of doing things their own way. “The idea is to remove barriers and provide wellness-based care to all employees,” said Michele. “We wanted something that would benefit everyone regardless of whether they work in manufacturing or marketing.”

“Twincraft was not afraid to go after the big idea because they believed they could change people’s lives,” added Kim, “and they have.”

Emily Fitzpatrick agrees. “I don’t worry anymore. I know there’s someone there for any kind of health need, or any kind of support I might need to make healthy choices in life. Twincraft has always shown that they really care about their employees, and this is just the icing on the cake.”