BeWell Gives Patients Extra Support Needed to Make Lasting Lifestyle Changes

If you’ve ever wished for more time or more resources to assist your patients with prevention and lifestyle modifications, the UVA BeWell program may be just the solution you’re looking for. Currently, more than 5,000 UVA employees and their spouses participate in this free wellness initiative, which provides one-on-one, personalized coaching and a monetary incentive to encourage patients to establish and follow through on their health goals.

Because patients are required to have a preventive care exam prior to participating in the program, you have an opportunity to offer your recommendations on which lifestyle changes you feel would be most beneficial for your patient, from losing weight to reducing stress.

For UVA Health System administrator Rebecca Lewis, the BeWell program provided the push she needed to commit to her health goals. “I realized that I was not as active as I should be and I wasn’t managing my diet well,” she says. “After I fractured my foot, an X-ray revealed that I had mild osteopenia. And although I knew I was in the normal limits for cholesterol and blood pressure, I also knew that I have a family history of these comorbidities and I didn’t want to let it go; I want to be different from my siblings.”

Lewis went to see her primary care physician, John MacKnight, MD, at the start of the BeWell program. Together, they discussed her health goals, including increasing physical activity, improving bone density and losing weight. “Dr. MacKnight talked to me about the steps I needed to take to prevent comorbidities,” says Lewis. “He was very supportive.”

With her provider recommendations in mind, Lewis met with BeWell Patient Advocate JoAnna Monroe. She helped Lewis define her personal goals, tracked her progress and offered support throughout the program via email, phone calls and face-to-face meetings. “It’s difficult for doctors to hold their patient’s hands. I walk a patient through their health goals, so doctors don’t have to,” says Monroe.

Lewis committed to take 10,000 steps daily five days per week, to lift weights three days per week, improve her diet and read five hours each week for relaxation. “After one year, my fasting glucose dropped 14 points, my blood pressure and cholesterol dropped and a bone scan showed that I had the bone density of a younger person,” says Lewis. “I was surprised and excited.”

MacKnight credits Lewis’s success to the structure provided by the BeWell program. “[BeWell] provides consistent support and encouragement, and it allows patients to objectify their health care needs and to formulate an achievable plan to meet their goals,” he says.

Learn more about how you can help your UVA-employed patients get the most out of the BeWell program.