#10 Baylor College of Medicine

November 14, 2022 – Baylor College of Medicine (Baylor) is a health sciences university that creates knowledge and applies science and discoveries to further education, healthcare, and community service locally and globally. Located at the heart of the Texas Medical Center in Houston, Texas, Baylor is a multifaceted non-profit corporation specializing in education, research, and clinical practice (Baylor Medicine).

#10 Baylor College of Medicine

Baylor College of Medicine

Nov. 14, 2022

Ranking: #10

Headquarters: Houston, Texas

Full-Time Employee Count: 10,962

About: Baylor College of Medicine (Baylor) is a health sciences university that creates knowledge and applies science and discoveries to further education, healthcare, and community service locally and globally. Located at the heart of the Texas Medical Center in Houston, Texas, Baylor is a multifaceted non-profit corporation specializing in education, research, and clinical practice (Baylor Medicine).

Q: What is the most unique benefit offering currently in place? If you were to talk about your program with someone who does not work there, what would you share about your program that would make them want to join your team?

A: Creating resources and initiatives tailored to meet individual needs in the well-being journey can be difficult and seemingly impossible with large employers like Baylor College of Medicine (Baylor). These days, there are many options when considering how to stay physically well. There are multiple gyms, nutrition plans, and an increasing number of at-home options. When the COVID-19 pandemic changed the working environment, we received many requests for ergonomic solutions for home office spaces. Also, as fitness studios and gyms started to open, we received additional requests to add discounts so employees could take advantage of the most convenient facility to meet their needs. This caused some administrative burdens because it was hard to manage the growing list of discounts and vendors. Starting in 2022, Baylor was able to offer a unique resource so all community members could focus on their individual goals and needs. All benefit-eligible members of the Baylor community can receive $75 once per year for physical wellness. This “Physical Wellness Reimbursement” can be used for equipment, gym memberships, personal training, massage therapy, meal prep and delivery services, ergonomic equipment, etc. As of March 15, 2022, 350 employees have submitted receipts to receive the $75 reimbursement and many have commented that it is one of the best benefits we have offered.

Q: How are you addressing the mental health crisis in the United States as COVID-19 continues to pose a threat?

A: COVID-19 brought sudden and unprecedented changes for both our community and Baylor College of Medicine (Baylor) as an organization. In March 2020, Baylor created an Incident Command Center (ICC) that would be a central hub for ongoing COVID-19 communication and future planning. The ICC was comprised of clinical, research and education leaders at Baylor as well as key members of the central administration offices that would help steer the efforts for Baylor. The first task of the ICC was to determine the needs of the Baylor community by administering a series of feedback surveys and open dialogue opportunities. Additionally, a Support Task Force was created by senior leadership to focus on meeting the initial needs determined by the ICC. Since Baylor is a medical institution, we had employees on the front lines combating COVID-19 by treating patients and providing care at onsite testing centers. The added demands from COVID-19 caused additional emotional and mental stress among our workforce.

Initiatives enhanced or created by Baylor through a collaboration of the ICC, the Support Task Force, Human Resources, and other various departments to address the mental health crisis include:

  • Enhanced virtual care for medical and behavioral health
  • New mental health services provided by the internal Baylor College of Medicine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
  • Expanded in-house care services from Bright Horizons
  • Enhanced virtual presentations for on-demand viewing
  • New partnerships offering cleaning services for scrubs, hotel stays for healthcare professionals and cognitive-based technology apps
  • Enhanced communication and support from our wellness initiative, BCM BeWell, around the importance of connection, social wellness, and togetherness

Now, as we are returning to in-person working environments, we continue to provide support for mental health through all avenues, enhanced care for loved ones, and ongoing emotional support for anyone going through a difficult time.

"Baylor has a phenomenal all-inclusive well-being program and has for several years. My excitement is represented by our claims spend reduction in several categories. This confirms to Baylor leadership that employees are engaged and changing their lives for the better. The program delivers user-friendly, sharable content via the employee portal, monthly/yearlong challenges, various avenues of communication offered by Baylor, detailed DocTalks, and biometric screenings, among many other opportunities crucial to employee engagement. The incentives provided are very rich and easily obtained. Continual collaboration with the wellness director to bring beneficial programs to Baylor’s employees/trainees and works well within the health and welfare benefit space. Each year the program revives us and ultimately provides 'a breath of fresh air' to the Baylor population. Feeling revived, refocused, and re-motivated to create a better me, by me, is what I look for within the well-being program."
– Monica Williams, Executive Director of Benefits

Q: What statistic best captures the success of your program’s effectiveness in the past 12 months?

A: COVID-19 caused deteriorating effects on individual health parameters over the past two years. The wellness initiative at Baylor College of Medicine (Baylor) has always tried to practice a grass-roots efforts approach to behavior change. We enjoy being out in front of people and interacting with them daily. Because of the pandemic, we were not able to hold on-site activities such as biometric screenings, on-site presentations, social events, and others. In 2020/2021, we noticed a decline in the participation rates in the biometric screenings due to individuals not wanting to visit labs or even their own physician. While we are beginning to notice a negative risk trend for specific measurements across our entire engaged population, the statistic showing the wellness program is still effective is that participants in the wellness initiative experienced a 2.3% net improvement across all health measurements. Our wellness portal partner, the Vitality Group, can report risk trends for various measures through biometric screening and online questionnaires. Measurements to determine risk for body mass index, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, physical activity, nutrition, tobacco and alcohol use, and stress are collected and aggregated to maintain confidentiality. Despite the pandemic and changes to the overall program, showing a 2.3% net improvement is positive. Now that we can add more social events and on-site screenings, we can work toward improving this metric.

Q: Provide a testimony from one of your employees.

A: Citrine Elatrash has been with Baylor College of Medicine (Baylor) since 2020 as a Clinical Research Coordinator at our Children’s Nutrition Research Center. Before becoming engaged in BCM BeWell, Baylor’s wellness initiative, Citrine followed a daily routine similar to many in today's busy society. She ate out at restaurants every day and spent most of her time sitting, with little activity. Based on biometric screening results obtained through resources offered through the wellness program, Citrine noticed her lipid values and blood pressure were high. She was told she was at risk of becoming diabetic. She also noticed she did not have much energy. Citrine has a family history of diabetes, hypertension, and coronary heart disease so she knew she needed to change her lifestyle before it was too late. After joining the wellness portal, www.powerofvitality.com, Citrine began adjusting to her lifestyle to enhance her overall health and well-being. Today, Citrine gets off the Houston Metro Rail at a stop that requires her to walk 10 minutes to her office. She is now eating out less and has added physical activity at least two days per week. “Through my journey and participation in the wellness program at Baylor, I have met my initial goals. Although I have been indifferent to programs in my previous employment, this is the first time I really enjoy being in such a program. The ultimate reward is getting back your health, gaining control of making your life better, and losing all the unwanted habits and holds that can take away your life. I have confidence that being in the program will help me achieve my health goals but more importantly to make these changes as a part of my life.” Citrine’s hard work and determination are paying off. She has lost 10 pounds, with a long-term goal of achieving a healthy BMI of 25. Her blood pressure and lipid profile are within normal ranges, and she is no longer at risk for prediabetes.

"As an academic healthcare organization, we are just as concerned about our internal community’s well-being as we are about the community we serve. Although we have had success in our program, we never stop trying to improve. As an organization, one of our core values is innovation so we are not afraid to keep pushing the envelope if it means the efforts may improve the well-being of our population. As a Healthiest 100 recipient since 2015, we continue to show positive outcomes and strive for excellence."
– Dane Friend, Chief Human Resources Officer