Clinical Blueprints, Employer Health Benefits

A Weight Management Approach that Creates Space for Better Living

One of our client partners frequently describes employee health struggles in terms of getting caught up in the “overhwelm” of it all. The “overwhelm” is that place where options and barriers coalesce into a sense of paralysis or despair. A place where the struggle of it all weighs us down in the burdens of our own limitations, choices, and consequences. When it comes to managing health, there is plenty of “overwhelm” to go around.

Northwind has created a suite of Clinical BlueprintsTM designed to remove the barriers of access, cost, and complexity facing plan sponsors and the members they serve. For us, addressing access and cost barriers have been pretty straight forward. In a world of PBM obfuscation, spread pricing, and rebate games, helping plans and members simply access medications less expensively has been step one for driving great engagement, reducing total health costs, and getting better outcomes.

However, complexity or the “overwhelm,” is a bit trickier. Sure, there’s the “overwhelm” of cost and access, but the next big barrier for all of us as sponsors of healthcare are the personal struggles, the social determinants, that ensnare so many people in a massive net of despair, disappointment, and frustration with the basic functions of daily living.

Perhaps the answer to complexity is not so terribly complex.

Frequently, we are honored to receive stories about how Northwind’s Clinical BlueprintTM programs impact the lives of individuals and their families. Since joining the team, I’ve silently wondered what it is about our approach to disease management that leads people to change their lives for the better – beyond better use of medications and improvement in clinical outcomes. Patients in our programs consistently demonstrate newfound motivation to transform their lifestyle behaviors – focused effort toward eating better and moving more – to positively influence their overall health.

Until recently, I attributed these efforts solely to the work of our pharmacists and health coaches leveraging Northwind’s programmatic approach to removing cost and access barriers to medications for patients engaged in our programs. While these are vital pieces to the puzzle, many condition management programs offer versions of these offerings, so what’s making the difference for Northwind?

Through a recent pharmacist consult with a Northwind patient, I had a profound moment of clarity. After the clinical review, the patient was elated to tell me how he had been able to focus on his nutrition because he had time to think about what he should eat. Then, he described his excitement over the daily bike rides he had started because he now had time to take bike rides. Finally, he told me of his delight when he noticed his medication supply getting low and went to email the pharmacy for refills only to find the confirmation email that his medications had been refilled and were on the way!

It was in this moment that the Northwind difference became very clear. Through our programmatic approach for chronic disease management, whether diabetes or obesity, Northwind most certainly removes medication cost and access barriers.

But there’s more to it. Many patients managing chronic illness face ongoing underlying concerns around whether they will be able to get their medications, afford their medications, how they will be able to track down all their needed supplies, wonder if they will get refills in time, and the list goes on. In addition to this, we, as healthcare providers, ask patients to eat better, move more, sleep 8 hours every night, self-monitor at home, etc.

By directly addressing and removing some of the stress and constant background noise created by worry, we’ve helped patients create space to develop intrinsic motivation to improve their lifestyle choices. We’re seeing patients proactively make decisions to live better for themselves because now they can.

All of us have a defined bandwidth that can only absorb so much. When we are at our capacity with work, family, the stress and worry about life happenings, medication affordability, access, side effects, self-monitoring blood pressure, blood glucose, weight, and more, there is no space to add more to our mental and emotional plate. By alleviating the “overwhelm” of cost, shipping medications and supplies directly to patients’ doors, and providing expert clinical support through pharmacist and health coach engagements, Northwind frees up some personal bandwidth that can be reinvested in something even more meaningful. Something that we, as a program provider, can’t do.

With more available bandwidth, newly freed up space, people develop new motivation to invest in themselves. Northwind has helped them better manage their diabetes or their weight, and now these patients feel better, want to live long, healthy lives, and use their “new space” to invest in themselves in a way nothing else can. By eliminating even a portion of the constant noise, people can focus on something else, something bigger and more important for their life: the choices they make every day to influence their future.

As plan sponsors, care providers, and plan administrators, we will never be able to remove all barriers or all struggle in the lives of those we serve. However, we can ensure that the dollars we invest in our programs are hitting their mark by removing access, cost, and complexity barriers holding our members back from having the best opportunity to thrive. We can help create “space” for better choices, greater self-determination, and the hope that comes from owning the progress you see happening in your own health.

Schedule a free claims analysis now.

Let’s Talk now


Betsy Bigler | Mar 7th, 2024
INDIANAPOLIS, March 7, 2024 – Northwind has announced the addition of Tony Purkey as Senior Vice President, Client Strategies. “Demand from our self-funded employer and union clients is driving rapid growth,” said Phillip Berry, CEO. “Tony Purkey joins Northwind at a time when we need high-integrity leaders with expert knowledge in employer-sponsored health and the … more »

continue reading

Voices Lost in the Noise

Phillip Berry | Jan 31st, 2024
In the health benefits world, the mad scramble toward January renewals/starts has subsided and attention has turned to the annual cycle of review necessary to gauge progress. How did we do? The plan review process generally centers on analytics to gauge progress or regress and to identify “areas of opportunity.” Good. The right data with … more »

continue reading