By Wayne N. Burton, Chief Medical Officer, American Express



Health is not one size fits all. We recognize our workforce is increasingly diverse and work to ensure the health needs of all American Express employees are being met.

Using a data-driven approach is important to understand how to better serve employees. Awareness of health disparities in minority groups is growing globally, but employers rarely have access to data specifically related to health disparities for their employee population. That’s why we partnered with the University of Michigan in 2010 to create an integrated data warehouse to better understand healthcare gaps among employees and create tailored health programs to address them.

To create this data warehouse, employees were asked to complete a brief health risk questionnaire (HRQ) in exchange for a contribution to their health savings account. The University of Michigan linked responses from the HRQ with employee ethnicity/race information to identify any healthcare gaps. Employee confidentiality is preserved by receiving only aggregated, summary reports.

This analytic approach has driven new programs and resources for American Express’ corporate wellness program, Healthy Living, benefiting all employees. As a result, health risk factors in the majority of areas have improved for all ethnicities.

Healthy Living is about building employee-centric programs and communications to inspire and drive individual health progress. Partnerships have been forged with employee-formed diversity networks to provide education and to encourage participation. When a pilot health program was launched on the risk factors for heart disease in African American employees, the Black Employee Network (BEN) was eager to help enroll their members. And when a diabetes education program was rolled out company-wide, the Hispanic Origin & Latin-American Network (HOLA) emphasized participation to its members after health risks were identified among this population.

We are a service company, and great service starts with the people who deliver it. American Express understands that healthy, happy employees are critical to the success of the company. Creating a culture where health is important is a priority. We will continue to invest in providing all employees with the tools and resources necessary to improve their health and the quality of their everyday life.