Embracing change for the good of well-being

Embracing change for the good of well-being

Moving from reactive to proactive, with health and technology.

  • 47 percent increase in physical activity
  • 45 percent reduction in tobacco use
  • More than 20 percent fewer preventable hospital readmissions
  • 80 percent participation rate in well-being assessments

These are just some of the outcomes reported by customers of Franklin, Tennessee-based Healthways, a global well-being company dedicated “to making the world a healthier place–one individual at a time.” For more than 30 years, Healthways has helped integrated health systems, hospitals, physicians, health plans, communities, and government entities optimize patient or employee health while reducing health-related costs.

Now the focus is shifting from disease management to more proactive, patient-led strategies aimed at keeping people well. And that means more users than ever are accessing the company’s flagship Embrace technology, an integrated platform providing highly-specific and personalized support for managing personal health.

“Even though the term well-being is now mainstream, improved well-being has been Healthways’ singular pursuit since inception,” notes Steve Yeager, Healthways Vice President of Enterprise Architecture and Quality Assurance. “The types of services we provide drive down pure medical costs and increase performance, which in turn generates value for our customers.”

Using available claims history, assessment, and screening data, Healthways applies predictive models and analytics to evaluate the primary risks of the patient or employee populations for each client it serves. It then draws from a comprehensive list of capabilities to deliver solutions tailored for each client:

  • Interventions such as health risk coaching, high risk cost avoidance, or hospital readmission avoidance
  • Identification tools such as biometric screening
  • Engagement tools such as marketing or incentive campaigns

Embrace enables medical and health experts to collaborate proactively with individuals via print, phone, or mobile device. At the same time, individuals can manage their own well-being by accessing a web portal where they are encouraged to participate in health-focused campaigns such as weight loss or quitting smoking.

“When we first implemented Embrace, we were servicing 2 million users,” notes Yeager. “At the end of this year, we will have 10 million eligible lives being served.”

That means more mobile users are accessing Embrace at any time, from anywhere, which is leading to increased performance and scalability demands.

  • To handle the increased volume cost effectively and to ensure continued high availability, the company is transitioning its legacy Embrace architecture to the Intel® Xeon® processor-based Cisco Unified Computing System™ (Cisco UCS®).
  • Healthways is also moving forward with an innovative appliance strategy that involves designing robust, scalable, high-performance compute pods where everything required to support an instance of Embrace–servers, storage, and networking–is contained in one 48U Cisco blade server rack.

“Cisco UCS® is giving us the capability to build out a more scalable solution at a fraction of the price we would be facing if we tried to scale Embrace using the technology choices we originally made,” notes Yeager. “We can spend $1 million on our legacy infrastructure and continue to support user volumes that way, or we can turn around and spend the same $1 million going down the Cisco UCS route and get four times the capability.”

Based on initial calculations, implementing the new infrastructure will provide an estimated 18 to 20 percent reduction in data center power and cooling costs as well as a 20 percent decrease in hardware and licensing costs. As Healthways begins to roll out its appliance strategy, Yeager expects to derive even further benefit.

“As we think about our appliance strategy, whether we build specific Embrace appliances that customers manage or stand up multiple, geographically dispersed Embrace appliances that we manage, we have the capability to offer a tremendous amount of uptime without a significant investment in infrastructure that would otherwise sit somewhere cold,” he says.

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