Walk into the office of Valeria Tivnan, director of population health strategy and well-being at EBS Insurance Brokers in Newton, Mass., and you will see a plaque that reads: “In God we trust. All others must bring data,” attributed to statistician W. Edwards Deming.

That data-centered mentality drives everything Tivnan, EBA’s 2017 Wellness Adviser of the Year, does with her clients’ wellness plans. It’s particularly important, as the first question about wellness plans is almost always, “What’s the ROI?” Tivnan answers it by developing customized programs for each client based on factors that are uniquely important to them — What do they want to see improved? What are their company’s measures of success? — and then tracking them extensively through the plan year.

“Some clients don’t care about health improvement, but they want to see improvement in their employee engagement rates, so we help them measure that,” she says. “Others want to see health improvement and a decrease in population risk, so we help them measure that. Some clients want to measure all of it.”

The effort pays off. For example, participation in one client’s wellness program increased nearly 40% last year, as lifestyle-related claims fell to 65% below the norm in the process. In comparison, claims were 36% above the norm in 2014.

A different client saw its chronically ill population of employees decrease to 16% from 22% over a two-year period.

Tivnan has a willingness, says Paul Rooney, EBS’ managing partner, to work collaboratively with internal underwriting and analytics teams to not only understand the claims experiences but also solve the trouble areas for each client.

Tivnan is the project leader in charge of detailed analysis of each client’s population, from healthiest to sickest. She “does a great job for clients to understand what is driving healthcare costs,” Rooney says.

Making an impact
Tivnan’s mission in life is to have employees leave their office every day healthier than when then arrived. She accomplishes it by bringing unique offerings tailored to each client. For example, in late August, she did a lunch and learn for an employer where she brought representatives from the gym directly across the street into the client’s office to present, and negotiated a discount membership for that company’s employees.

In 2016, she arranged for a farmers market to be held in a client’s parking lot.

Another time, she set up a client’s employees with one-on-one assessments from registered dieticians at no cost to the employee or employer.

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Her most unique and most popular offering is through a partnership with 9 Miles East Farm, a Schuylerville, N.Y.-based farm that brings healthy ready-to-eat meal options directly into employers’ offices for employees to purchase. “By experiencing that in the workplace, people can say, ‘This food tastes great and I will bring it to my family,’” Tivnan says. “That becomes a movement.”

Pitched daily by new vendors, Tivnan selects those who have a mission that matches hers: making people healthy.

She will meet will all vendors if they are local and has a set of questions she asks all potential business partners, including how they started their business, their mission and purpose, results from satisfaction surveys and more.

The meetings are more than a list of questions and answers, but rather a conversation to recognize who is in the business to change people’s lives versus who is there “to make a quick buck,” Tivnan explains. Her firm receives no payments from recommending any vendor. Tivnan is very much against such a practice.

“I’m really looking for high quality, but most importantly, people who have their job as their mission,” she explains.

9 Miles East Farm brings healthy meals to registered investment adviser OMAM’s office weekly, and is part of the reason the firm’s benefits specialist, Donna Beaver, says that “Val always find something a little different. A little extra [that] we can bring into our program.”

“I know when I put a [vendor in] that Val has vetted, they will be amazing,” Beaver, a longtime client, says.

Beaver says every time she calls Tivnan she feels like she is the only client and the only person Tivnan is working for. “I feel like my employees are her employees,” Beaver says. “It’s not just a job for her. She lives it. She wants to make people healthy. She wants to make people better. She wants people to perform, and she wants to make people happy.”

Tivnan’s employer, EBS, focuses on team selling, so most prospective client meetings will include several subject-matter experts, such as Tivnan and other team members working in compliance and technology departments.

Her passion has helped EBS win multiple clients because her dedication always comes through in the prospective client meetings, Rooney says. “Her personality, experience and passion make that differentiator so much more,” he says.

Her dedication also means that OMAM will not be looking for a new brokerage anytime soon. In fact, if Beaver ever leaves her job, she hopes to bring Tivnan with her, “because she is such a valuable resource,” Beaver says. “It’s like having an extension of my team of one,” she adds. “I value that partnership that we have and I can always rely on her to give me what we need for our wellness programs.”

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