Steve Abel: Committed to health

What is your role at Purdue, and how does that tie in to your role with the Healthy Boiler committee?

I serve as Associate Provost for Engagement at Purdue. The Office of Engagement works in many ways to improve the lives of the citizens of Indiana and beyond, so our focus on health and wellness is a logical connection. I am a pharmacist by training, which is why I have enjoyed serving the University through my work with Human Resources, including the Healthy Boiler Committee.

What is the main goal of the committee? When and why was it established?

`The Healthy Boiler Committee has identified four primary goals. These are as follows:

  • Focus on overall faculty and staff well-being (physical health, behavioral health, social wellness, financial wellness, work life balance)
  • Validate branding and messaging of the Healthy Boiler Wellness Program
  • Review and provide feedback on Wellness Activities
  • Assess system engagement with wellness activities

There were precursors to the Healthy Boiler Committee. In 2010, the Blue Ribbon Committee on Healthcare was appointed. This was a relatively small committee including faculty and staff whose work included healthcare-related activities. The Blue Ribbon Committee was formed because from 2006 to 2010, healthcare costs increased by approximately 23 percent per year. Increases of this magnitude could not be sustained, and the University sought internal input to assist with identification of possible solutions to mitigate increasing costs. Primary outcomes of the Blue Ribbon committee included modification of all Purdue health plans and the recommendation to create the Center for Healthy Living on the West Lafayette campus to provide accessible, cost-effective health and wellness initiatives for Purdue faculty and staff.

In 2012, the Blue Ribbon Committee was rebranded to become the Health Care Strategy Committee and subsequently the Healthy Boiler Committee in 2015.

Why do you feel it’s important to be involved with the committee?

Health and wellness are critical to each of us, as well as the University. We hope each member of the Purdue family will utilize the resources made available through the University to optimize their individual health and wellness. Costs associated with healthcare are significant at Purdue. The University provides healthcare benefits for over 26,000 covered lives. Despite the availability of incentives, in 2018 less than 23 percent have registered in Healthy Boiler to take advantage of various health and wellness activities. Eighteen percent have identified a primary care provider, and 48 percent have completed a physical including biometrics (e.g., blood pressure, cholesterol), but only 10 percent have registered their data for the Healthy Boiler incentive, and only 6 percent have completed two or more wellness activities. The Healthy Boiler Committee is committed to improving these percentages as we identify and implement creative solutions to improve health and wellness.

What one thing do you most want people to know about the committee and its work for the Purdue community?

The Healthy Boiler Committee is committed to optimizing health and wellness for the Purdue family at the lowest possible cost. It is never our intent to sacrifice quality for cost. Since 2010 two major faculty/staff surveys have been completed. These surveys, as well as expansion of Healthy Boiler Committee membership, have enabled us to hear the voices of individuals at every level of the University. Purdue employees and their families should enroll in Healthy Boiler programs to engage in programs and activities to maximize health and wellness and receive financial incentives.

What activities and/or outcomes is the committee focused on now?

Key areas of focus at the present time include providing feedback and discussion regarding the medical plan – current and future, the expansion and branding of Healthy Boiler to include all areas of well-being, enhanced awareness and utilization of the Center for Healthy Living, participation in impactful health and wellness initiatives (e.g., Complete Health and Wellness Program, CHIP; Taking Control of My Diabetes), and improved engagement in incentivized activities such as annual physicals and identification of a primary care provider.

How can people stay up to date with what the committee is doing?

Minutes of the Healthy Boiler Committee can be found on the Healthy Boiler website.