Hey there!

Alright, let’s get started, everybody. Thank you, everyone, for taking time out of your busy schedules to join us here today for Engagement Health Group’s webinar on the secret sauce for containing the chronic disease crisis. My name is Marty Solomon, and joining me here today is our CEO, Jack Curtis, and Mikki Walters, Division Director.

We also have two special guests that we’re going to introduce you to a little bit later on, who have both benefited from the solutions that we’re going to talk about here today. Please also note that Jen Musick, our President, can’t be with us today due to a family emergency.

Our topic today is how to manage your employee’s health issues before they turn into costly chronic diseases. A couple of quick housekeeping items before we start.

Number one, we’re going to keep this to 30 minutes. We value and respect how important your time is.

Number two, if you have any questions, we’re going to try to get to a few at the end. Feel free to send them through the chat function to the host. And finally, we are recording this, and we will submit it to you all afterward.

So, we’re going to start here by just showing you the agenda that’s going to kick this thing off by just a very, very quick introduction to our organization that I’m going to quickly walk with you through before we hit this.

So very quickly as I told you, Jack Curtis is with us today, our CEO and Co-Founder of EHG.

Jack has 20 long and distinguished years, working in the wellness industry for CHP. Jen, who can’t be with us, also has 20 years of a long and distinguished career in the clinical care management arena, working with Health Solutions.

Both of these organizations came together earlier this year to form Engagement Health Group. We are now an organization with over 40 years of combined experience that offers virtually every solution available in the Population Health Management arena. Our mission, vision, vision, and values are so important to us. We truly care here at EHG.

Jack likes to say that no one came to EHG to make a million dollars. They came here because they truly care about helping people. And our clients and our customers see it every single day. In terms of our capabilities, we offer it all.

Our wellness portfolio comes from Jack’s organization. Our clinical care is from Jen’s. Both Jack and Jen have always believed in the importance of health coaching, and it is a critical component of EHG. We offer coaching in virtually every way and really address virtually every need.

In fact, our standard solution comes with unlimited, on-demand, inbound coaching. And post-COVID, I think the personal touch of coaching is so important, with a lot of people working at home remotely.

Finally, differentiators. It’s really a start to their experience. We are true professionals here at EHG. We know the market. We know how to help you. We’re very comprehensive. We offer everything under the sun here. So, employers can get whatever they need from one vendor. Our engagement levels are through the roof.

Hence, the first word in our name is engagement for Engagement Health Group. Without engagement, nothing else matters.

And finally, we have achieved and, proven 3-to-1 ROI on Condition Management and Critical Care Management. We put performance guarantee on that, and Jack will be walking through that with you right now. So, with no further ado, it’s my pleasure to introduce a great friend of mine, Jack Curtis, CEO, and Co-Founder.

Jack, take it away.


Thank you, Marty. I appreciate that. And, thanks to all of you who are participating today, and special thanks to our guest speakers who have honored us with their presence I’m going to rush through some slides so you can get to their part of the presentation, which is when they speak up.

So, thanks again to everybody. First, let’s talk about chronic disease. Why is it a crisis? It’s so prevalent. There are 60% of the adults that have at least one and there are 40% that have 2 or more. Not only is it prevalent, but it’s very, very costly. 90% of our health care expenditure in the country goes to chronic disease.

The most common risk factors are all those things that are lifestyle choices: smoking, poor nutrition, lack of physical activity, and so forth – and it drives all these chronic diseases: heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, diabetes, and so forth. So, it is very costly, it is very prevalent, and we’re not going to control health care costs without controlling chronic disease.

Next slide, Marty. So, the problem gets a little tougher because that’s not the end of it. Since the root cause of the problem is largely lifestyle choices, addressing those things is hard. It requires behavior change. If you’ve ever been through a behavior change yourself – you’re trying to lose weight or you’re trying to quit sugar, or quit tobacco, or whatever it is, you know that it’s very hard.

In fact, most of us can’t do it on our own. A few percent of the population are self-actualizing and could just go do it – but most of us need help, if we’re going to try to tackle something that’s tough. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that with the help of a health coach, you’re up to 350% more likely to adopt a healthy habit that will address that. So, the best practice really is going after sustainable behavior change.

Negotiating lower costs for treatment and meds is helpful with chronic disease. But, as it turns out, that’s just the tip of the iceberg, Addressing the cause of the treatment is where the bigger opportunity is.

And again, the root cause of most chronic diseases is poor lifestyle choices. So, the secret sauce to enhance lifestyle choices is behavioral health coaching. As I mentioned, you’re up to 350% more likely to make the changes needed.

Next slide, Marty. So ,what does NOT solve the problem? Doing nothing obviously doesn’t solve the problem. Status quo. Health insurance doesn’t make anybody healthier. Doctors are really just getting you back to health. They don’t necessarily improve your lifestyle choices. Same for hospitals, prescriptions, and incentives. And certainly, it’s hard to help people who are disengaged or just not participating.

So, none of these things, if you think about it, really help people adopt healthier lifestyle choices.

So, what does solve the problem? As you can see, there’s no silver bullet to do that. It takes a comprehensive, integrated, systematic approach to tackle this very tough, comprehensive, costly, traumatic problem. So, the secret ingredients, the secret sauce, if you will. Visible, credible, supportive leadership. Supportive and inclusive environment. Great communications – multiple times in multiple ways -so that everybody gets it and understands it. Meaningful incentives – and that’s not t-shirts and water bottles. It’s not a $10 gift card. It’s something that’s much more meaningful and will give employees the nudge to try it.

But all of those things are extrinsic motivators. And that’s why none of that is actually sustainable. What makes it sustainable is when you internalize that motivation. You cultivate that intrinsic motivation. And that’s why health coaching we see is fundamental technique or strategy to improve health and improved lifestyle choices in any program.

Other important strategies. As it turns out, managing health costs is too late. If you wait to address costs until members are driving large claims, the damage is done.

You’ve got to work upstream of that to manage chronic disease. And keep going upstream to the poor lifestyle choices. That’s when you make the difference.

You’ll never minimize costs without measuring and managing the risk. Why is that? Because health costs follow the health risk. So, you can’t manage the risks if you don’t measure them, which guides our programming, it gauges our progress.

To measure and manage the risk of the population, you need to engage the vast majority. If you’re just engaging 20 or 30%, you’re basically measuring managing your healthiest employees. So, you’ve got to push towards 70, 80, 90% to get those people that have been avoiding taking care of themselves. and that requires that systematic approach to measure and then manage it – and follow up systematically. We’ll talk more about that.

Next slide. So, the key strategy (and we might be biased here), but we’ve been very passionate as Marty pointed out about trying to make a difference and trying to do something with this big problem is throughout our nation. Behavioral health coaching we feel is the key to making this a sustainable system to control risk and cost.

As we pointed out, unhealthy habits are so prevalent and they’re very hard to change without support. One or two calls to a coach are not going to do it. That’s not a systematic approach.

Most people aren’t even motivated to change. And even those who are motivated, they’re unsuccessful when they try to change habits on their own. So, we have a process that really addresses all of those issues in a systematic approach and actually gets real results.

If you look at the diagram there, it starts with Empathy, that’s the number one criterion for our health coaches. They’ve got to care. People don’t care how much we know, unless they know how much we care.

Once they understand that, then they’ll start to open up when we do a motivational interview, to find out what’s important to them in life and how it’s working on tobacco or weight or cholesterol going to help them with that. Then they’ll start to have an open and honest conversation where you can really understand what’s going on and you start to make a difference.

Once we have that relationship of trust, people start to open up with us. Then we can also make referrals. We systematically try to understand what’s in the health plan, and what resources are available to employees. Then the coach can understand the situation and not only make recommendations, but even do warm handoffs, which are much more successful than having a poster on the wall or having a bullet point at open enrollment. So, these warm referrals drive engagement in those excellent resources that have been made available.

From that, we do goal setting – and we aren’t just prescriptive in our advice, we’re collaborative. A prescription – this kind of approach actually turns people off, or at least a lot of them. We open up with collaboration. We find out what goal you want to work on, which one you’re ready for, what’s important, which one you’re confident you could make, and then set a SMART goal – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. And that’s where a lot of people fall down.

Once we set those goals, we develop appropriate action plans. Maybe somebody’s got 2 jobs and they don’t live near a gym, and they’re not healthy food choices that are nearby. What can that person do that’s realistic and appropriate for them?

Then we follow up systematically throughout the year – to help people troubleshoot if they’re falling off the wagon, and to keep them motivated. Motivation isn’t a one-shot deal (you get motivated one day and you’re motivated for the rest of your life). It’s an ongoing process. With this systematic approach, we’re able to really make a difference. Next slide, Marty.

The key then is our coaches. As I mentioned, the number one criterion is empathy. But there are a lot of other qualifications that we look for, college degrees in a health-related field, they’re certified in our field. A lot of them are certified fitness instructors or at first aid and CPR.

We do additional training at EHG University. Motivational Interview training, in particular, is critically important. We’re really proud that, all of our coaches got certified in Mental Health First Aid right before COVID. It was very timely, and very needed. So, we’re proud of that, and we keep that certification in front of our folks. We’ve got really good people that, and that makes a difference. Next slide, Marty.

I want to talk for a minute about Social Determinants of Health and put a spotlight on that. I feel like behavioral health coaching is so important for that – to not leave people behind. We seek to develop those relationships of trust that I mentioned already. We try to meet everybody where they are. And as I mentioned, we collaborate on goals and action plans. So, we’re not prescribing – we’re trying to find out what they want to do, what they can do, what works for them, what makes sense to them so that they own these things. And that’s how we make a difference. Next slide, Marty.

So, what kind of difference do I mean when I say our coaches can make a difference? We looked across our best practices and our clients that are using our best practices. Here’s the kind of results that we got: 84% of participants say they experience health improvement. 85% made healthier choices. 87% get that motivation that we’re trying to develop within them – intrinsic motivation. 90% complete a scheduled coaching session, and 92% complete a series. They might miss one session, but they complete the whole series – and that’s what leads up to 350% more likely to adopt healthier habits.

I apologize for rushing through a lot of information in such a hurry, but I thought it was very important to get to the meat of the presentation and introduce our honored guest.

First, I want to introduce Nicki Brick, who is Vice President of Total Rewards at Acclara. Acclara is a revenue cycle management company that’s based in Texas and has sites all over. Nicki’s been a client since 2018, so she’s in a really good position to know how our program works. We’ve asked her to share with you her story – about what were you looking to solve, why did you look at health coaching as a key ingredient, and what success have you realized?

So Nicki, take it away, please.


Okay, thank you, Jack. I appreciate the opportunity to come and speak today. And yeah, so as they mentioned, we have been clients with Health Solutions for the past 5 years. Our relationship started back in 2018, and during that time our organization was MediRevv. so Acclara is a combination of 4 revenue cycle companies that have come together. So MediRevv was a high-growth startup. We were in a position where we wanted to move from fully-insured to a self-funded benefit model. And so, we’d had an internal wellness program at that point for a couple of years, but we were really seeking an external partner that would allow us to kind of take our wellness to the next level with that move to a self-funded model.

So, our big thing was culture. We had always had a culture that was employee first. So, we were looking for a vendor partner that also had a similar culture to ours. Obviously, cost containment and consumerism were top of mind at that point as well, but we were really looking for the ability to bring in a partner that had the ability to meet our people at different stages of their wellness journey because we were such a we were everybody was just at such a different – whether it was time of their life or just demographic factors – all those sorts of things that factor into that. So, we partner with Health Solutions. We did a Know Your Numbers campaign really to try to identify those ticking time bombs that we knew we had out there – those people that are part of your team that don’t have a relationship with a PCP they haven’t been to the doctor for years. Really kind of focusing on, you know, a lot of the metabolic syndrome that we knew we had out there that was probably unidentified.

And so, post the Know Your Numbers campaign, then we implemented a full health coaching strategy. And the Health Solutions team, they were just truly an extension of our benefits team. And so, it made all the difference to have that extra support that had our same employee first culture and treated our employees as we would want them to be treated.

As they were participating in these health coaching sessions, our compliance numbers were very much like Jack showed on those slides. We’ve always been well over 90% compliance with the health coaching. It’s appreciation that we hear from our employees – not push back. And I think it’s just because the health coaches come with that empathetic ear and you know. They’re nonjudgmental, and they become that confidant that your employees can trust and act as a true advisor, you know, in their health journey.

And so, from a success perspective, we’ve had many things. We’ve obviously been able to move people out of a high-risk category down to medium and low. The majority of our participants do graduate out of health coaching to move through those classes and then they’re able to continue, should they choose.

The mental health support that we were able to gain through Covid was absolutely critical and we’re still continuing to see a lot of utilization in those services. But we were also able to gain testimonials from our employees. And so, when your team sees testimonials of real people that they work with day to day, it increases your engagement, And so, we were able to really promote the program using our own internal testimonials.

And return on investment obviously is top of mind for anybody in your organization that handles your financial world. So, you know, we were able to reduce our large dollar claimants early detection, and then disease management obviously is super-detection, and then disease management obviously is super critical in those 2 categories. We’ve really been able since going self-funded in 2019 to be able to maintain healthy loss ratios, which was really our goal.

You know, our goals were people first, being able to attack things early, and then being able to contain as much as we could. So, those of you that are in this field know that those loss ratios are a little bit of luck.  

We really feel like it was the collaboration between our benefits broker, Health Solutions as a team (and now EHG), and our Total Rewards team really coming together as a trifecta of sorts to create the results that we were looking for.


Excellent. Thank you so much, Nicki. Very good story. And I can tell you’re very passionate about your people and proud of what you’ve accomplished. So, keep up the good work!

We’re also really pleased to have Mike O’Neill with us today. Mike is going to speak with a participant’s perspective, since he’s been coached. He was the Program Supervisor for the city of Cedar Rapids in the Parks and Rec. Department for over 40 years. He’s been a participant in their coaching program for over a decade, and he’s recently retired. We got him successfully to retirement age! So, we’re really proud of that, and Mike’s here to tell you more about that.


Hello everyone, and greetings from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I am very, very honored to share my experience on my journey with Health Solutions. I’m a bit nervous, so please give me a break. But again, two milestones that I want to talk about. One is what Jack indicated – I retired 15 months ago. But the most important milestone is that 9 days ago my wife and I became grandparents for the first time to a little boy named Atlas. And I couldn’t imagine being retired and having a grandson without having good health, and that is a gift that Health Solutions and my employer gave me. Now when I say gift, I understand it perhaps was a lot of hard work. But my employer and Health Solutions provided it for me, so that I have the opportunity to make the decision for a healthier lifestyle.

My journey started about 10 years ago when, through my numbers, as we talked about. It was no surprise that I became coaching eligible. I weighed over a 190 pounds, and on a 5-6 frame. I was really having big issues with vertigo, kidney stones, taking blood pressure medicines, taking cholesterol medicines, and waking up in the morning being very groggy – as if I had gone out the night before drinking, which I had not. But it was just that I was a total mess. And what turned the corner for me? After two years of coaching and realizing the opportunities that were there, I had my annual physical with my doctor and she told me that I had crossed from being pre-diabetic to full-blown diabetic – and those were words that really hit hard.

I asked her if she would give me some time before she put me on medicine for that, and she indicated she’d give me 90 days. So, my resource at that time was my Health Solutions coach. I went to her on my appointment and shared with her the news the doctor had shared. And she said something that really hit home with me. She said Mike, and I’m going to paraphrase here,  everything in your life is a reflection of the choices you have made. If you want a different result, make a different choice. So, with her help and her guidance, we started collaborating on how Mike could make different choices – and as we all know, those were not easy. But she was there in my corner. And she, as Jack indicated, demonstrated that she really cared, and that motivated me to start making different choices. 

And again, not easy, but with her help, I was able to shed within about 8 to 12 months, 40, almost 50 pounds. And on my 90-day checkup with my doctor, she looked me right in the eye and said, Mike, you’re making wonderful progress. But if you fall off and you put the weight back on, you’re going to be right back where you started. So, she was very concerned that I understood what I was up against,

Again, I shared that with my health coach, and we formulated and collaborated on opportunities for me to make these changes. And I’m very pleased to say, 10 years later, I have kept the weight off. I’ve dropped all medications with the exception of a little bit of cholesterol medicine within the last 2 years.

And again, my retirement has been so much fun. I’ve been able to do so many things without any restrictions, and it’s all due to the fact of my coaching from Health Solutions.

Now, some of the things I’ll point out are what Jack had talked about. There is no Secret Sauce for all this. It’s hard work. One of the things that I really appreciate about Health Solutions is the life expectancy of your coach is probably going to be about 18 to 30 months, and then he or she is going to move on within the company or choose other opportunities. Health Solutions really found the person to step up and fill that coach every time. I said, oh my gosh, I’m never going to find another coach like Riley or Shannon, but each time I was grateful that those people were out there. From time to time there was not a good fit, and then we made an adjustment and had a new coach. 

The story that I will share with you. One of my health coaches obviously is from our community, and I was behind her in the grocery, and I saw in her cart an ice cream. I gave her a hard time. I said, “Oh my, you eat ice cream?” And so, she was human too – and that made a connection to me that she was with me on this and that no one expects you to be perfect. And that’s what Jack was talking about. Having that connection with that person means all the difference.

But another story I’ll share with you. During the COVID years, we didn’t have the opportunity to meet one-on-one, and I was very concerned about that. But the coach that I had, I had not met before. So, for 15 months, she walked me through on the telephone not only my health side of it – but also the mental side of it. She ended up leaving Health Solutions to pursue her degree in nursing. I’ve never really seen a picture of her or seen her in person, but she had a huge impact on me getting through COVID.

So, my message to all of you folks is Health Solutions, or EHG now, is real. It’s very, very critical for your employees.

And something that I thought of the other day was my employer was very good about it. Professionally preparing me to do my job – I went to seminars, I went to conferences, I had training, I had the laptops, I had the computer support. They also matched my funds for 4O1K’s which allowed me to look at retirement. But one of the biggest gifts they gave me was the gift of good health. And I can’t tell you how important that is. When I retire, I look around my friends who are my age and a lot of them are not in a position where they can be mobile, a lot of them can’t leave. Because of medication issues, I once again go back to my employer and Health Solutions with a big thank you for doing that for me. So, thank you.

Again, it’s my pleasure to be here. Just a wonderful, wonderful organization. I can’t speak highly, more highly of it. And my grandson. Really, thank you too.


Thanks, Mike. Really appreciate that. That’s a powerful story! Congratulations on your retirement, and being healthy enough that you can be there with Atlas, where every day seems like Saturday. So, thanks for sharing that story.

So, I think we’re right on track here. In summary just to wrap things up. Again, special thanks to Nicki and Mike. That means so much. I mean, it’s one thing for me to brag about the company, but it’s something else for you to talk about your experience. So, thank you for sharing that.

So, in summary, 90% of healthcare costs are driven by this chronic disease and mental health crisis. Most chronic diseases are caused by poor lifestyle choices. And behavioral health coaching is the best practice for addressing this and systematically, fundamentally addressing the root cause.

So, what’s next for us? 

In The Secret Sauce Part 2, we’re going to look at diabetes coaching in particular. After that, we will talk about the elephant in the room, where 42% of the population now is obese and they’re wanting GLP-1 drugs for that – even if they don’t have diabetes.

Then we’ll tackle key to successful condition management, then how to help the critical cases that drive 60% of your cost.



Well, again, because I’m so cognizant of everyone’s time, it’s 1:30. We’re not going to have time for questions. If you submit them, I will answer them But first of all, wow, that was so, exciting. Nicki, Mike, thank you so much. Thanks to our panel here. Thanks to everyone for joining us. We will send you a copy of this video to everyone.

My name and email address are at the bottom here. Have a great afternoon, and a great weekend, and good health for all of you.

Thanks so much to everybody. Bye.

Engagement Health Group