For a state whose mission is to become the healthiest in America, it’s no surprise that a robust wellness program for state employees would be a priority.

That’s why in 2013 Nate Sassano was brought on board as Colorado’s statewide wellness coordinator as part of Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s undertaking to get residents healthy.

Nate Sassano
Nate Sassano

And it didn’t take long for Sassano, a 2017 recipient of an EBN Benefits Technology Innovator Award, to realize that the best way to engage a diverse and mobile employee base was with technology.

From a pedometer program in the early days to a health platform powered by IBM’s Watson program, Sassano has successfully grown the state’s wellness initiatives with the use of several innovative technologies. One such offering is the CaféWell Concierge application, developed with IBM, which aims to guide and inspire employees to be healthier. Workers receive personalized recommendations that help them achieve optimal health and get the most out of state health plan benefits.

“Innovative technologies allow us to customize and personalize our wellness programs so that employees are participating in programs applicable to them and employers are able to use limited resources wisely,” Sassano says. “This personalization increases engagement in our programs, makes them meaningful for employees, and allows employees to participate in ways that make sense for them.”

The result of Sassano’s wellness efforts? Employee participation has exceeded 50%, and the state is seeing evidence that participating employees have a lower cost in health plans.

Most importantly, Sassano says, “employees are achieving their optimal health — which is the ultimate goal of any wellness program.”

Sassano says he doesn’t plan on keeping the program stagnant. He’s currently expanding offerings in the CaféWell platform to include other wellness aspects, such as weight and stress management.

Well-being and technology will continue to go hand in hand, Sassano says.

“Wellness programs have inevitably become integrated with technology, and I think this trend will continue,” he says.

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