By Dave DeWitte

A turnkey wellness program that hospitals use to connect with their communities is opening doors for Stamats Communications in the hard-to-crack health care field.

Lighten Up 4 Life (LU4L) is a web-based wellness service that hospitals can purchase from Stamats and provide free to patients and community members. By filling out a “Health Aware” questionnaire on the web, participants can find out what areas of wellness they need to work on and access links to web resources that will help them reach their goals in areas such as diet, sleep and exercise.

Stamats has gained 12 customers for Lighten Up 4 Life since it began offering the solution in January, according to Bill Stamats, vice president, business development, with many more expressing interest.

Mr. Stamats said the program provides a way for hospitals to connect with their communities by providing a valuable service that doesn’t cost end-users a cent.

“There are tons of wellness programs that go through the employer, but this is one that goes through the hospital,” Mr. Stamats said.

The program is largely self-guided, but hospitals typically offer added inducements for success. One hospital arranged for winners of a team weight loss competition promoted on its LU4L site to get makeovers, new summer outfits and a portrait session. The winning team lost 16.4 percent of its members’ total body weight.

North Carolina-based Mission Health System uses its LU4L website to offer exercise videos, eating advice, a calendar of walking and running events, a weekly challenge and recipes. Many hospitals use LU4L as a launch pad for their own programs, such as diet classes and weight loss competitions that can provide motivation and education.

Use of the program can help hospitals build their brand in the community and improve patient outcomes, Mr. Stamats said, noting that outcomes are increasingly becoming the basis for health insurance reimbursement.

While patients’ responses on the Health Aware questionnaire are confidential, hospitals can use LU4L as a marketing tool by asking participants for permission to send them health information pertaining to their questionnaire responses, explained Tami Vande Weerd, Stamats’ account manager for the product.

That can bring new patients into the hospital, Ms. Vande Weerd said. A patient who disclosed high cholesterol readings on the questionnaire, for instance, could be advised to come into the hospital’s clinic for further evaluation and possible treatment.

LU4L had already been developed and was becoming established in the market when it was purchased by Stamats late last year from Maureen Sculin of Ashville, N.C. Ms. Sculin had launched LU4L in 2007 through her company, Market Impact.

Growing awarness of the obesity issue in the southeastern United States provided Ms. Sculin with a receptive market for LU4L, Mr. Stamats said. It has served over 1 million individuals in 33 communities, and has received a number of industry awards.

Ms. Sculin and Ms. Vande Weerd are leading the sales effort for the product. Hospitals have commented on the user-friendliness and motivational benefits of the wellness portal.

Ms. Vande Weerd said hospitals tend to partner with local businesses in providing content for Lighten Up 4 Life. One might partner with a supermarket chain, for instance, to advertise food specials on ingredients for the healthy recipe of the week.

FitBit devices that measure steps are an important part of many fitness programs used by LU4L participants. Stamats offers them for sale for use in the hospital programs through the LU4L websites.

Pardee Hospital in Hendersonville, N.C., has used the web-based service to organize teams for a community competition to see which four-member team can lose the most weight over a 16-week period. Winners in such contests typically receive prizes, and even participants who are already fit and within their weight range can receive a prize for having the highest activity level.

At least one hospital is asking the business community to sponsor the program with advertising on its LU4L site, Mr. Stamats said.

Stamats is entering the healthcare market by offering the kind of marketing, database and list services to hospitals that it has traditionally offered in the higher education market, Ms. Vande Weerd said. One of the things it found out was that hospitals could take as much as a year to work through requests for proposals for such services, making for an extremely slow sales cycle and consequently limiting sales growth.

The sales cycle for LU4L was much shorter, and winning business for the product can open the door in hospitals to other services such as management of patient e-mail lists and marketing services.

Stamats charges hospitals a significant fee to set up their Lighten Up 4 Life site, but allows them to pay for it over the life of the contract, usually two or three years. Hospitals can also opt for other services, such as newsletters and e-mail list management.

The program could become a valuable tool for hospitals as they comply with Affordable Care Act provisions mandating hospitals’ wellness outreach, in what is referred to as “population health management,” Mr. Stamats said.

Stamats has a suite of other businesses that include higher education marketing, business-to-business digital and print magazines, and social media marketing. LU4L will be able to tap into many of those competencies, Mr. Stamats said, and the company expects to build on its LU4L relationships with hospitals to offer other services and products.

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