Beyond Fitness Club Memberships

When Teva Pharmaceuticals’ senior VP of human resources, Americas, Lesley Billow, talks about employee well-being, she describes a work environment that keeps employees healthier through programs designed to support different areas of their lives—whether it’s their physical health, future financial security, or career goals.

In 2014, Billow and Teva’s Total Rewards team introduced a new and more robust well-being program, which factors financial security, job satisfaction, and social connectedness as complements to physical and emotional health in the overall composition of well-being.

“Our holistic approach to well-being is based on the abiding belief that when our employees feel more energized, appreciated, focused, and purposeful, they perform better,” Billow says. “We recently held a financial health fair—timed to coincide with annual bonus award distribution—as a way to advise people to look at different ways to allocate that money.” As for social connectedness, the company makes contributions to community causes and encourages employees to actually be involved in organizations. Community fundraising walks, runs, and bicycle races are among the sponsored events.

“People can access a doctor in the middle of the night if they need. We really think this is the future of modern medicine.”

After three years of monitoring employee healthcare costs and launching the health and well-being initiative, the company’s medical spend has seen only a minimal increase, compared to the national 6 percent average year-over-year increase. Those are the real numbers to back up accolades Teva has received from the National Business Group on Health, which named the firm among the best employers for healthy lifestyles.

Recently, the team incorporated a telemedicine component to its health and well-being initiative. On paper, it makes sense: someone with a potentially infectious disease or someone who is too sick or busy to visit a doctor connects instead with a physician through an electronic device, such as a smartphone or tablet. At Teva’s offices, private rooms are dedicated to these patient-physician connections using a platform that includes phones, screen technology, and physician services. The platform is packaged and provided by telehealth company Amwell. These on-site kiosks allow employees the convenience of a doctor visit without ever leaving the workplace. Appointments are not needed, and there is no charge for employees.

Telemedicine—as used elsewhere by hospitals, providers, and employers—has had mixed results. But Teva employees appear to be embracing the technology, based on early reports on usage rates and satisfaction. In its first few months of operation, more than seven hundred people took advantage of the telemedicine option either from work or from home; family members can use it, too, if they are on the Teva plan.

“People can access a doctor in the middle of the night if they need to,” Billow says. “We really think this is the future of modern medicine.”

People who used Teva’s telemedicine system scored it a 4.6 on a 5 scale for satisfaction with providers and 4.5 for satisfaction with the system.

Exercise is also an important component to the company’s well-being program. In most company offices with more than one hundred employees, there are TevaFit Gyms, which are staffed by fitness professionals who offer support to employees who need help using equipment and offer private and group fitness training and exercise classes. Corporate fitness company HealthEase Inc. manages these gyms. Billow explains that Teva also provides discounts on commercial gym memberships to all employees, especially those who work at smaller locations that lack their own gym.

“The goal is to have a healthy, productive workforce. A positive effect of this happens to be improved cost control.”

In addition to offering on-site gyms and telemedicine kiosks, Teva is uniquely able to provide one large benefit. Because Teva is one of the world’s largest generic drug manufacturers, the company’s products are available to employees at little to no cost.

As an additional benefit, Teva has partnered with care coordinators from Quantum Health to provide a concierge service to employees. The service helps employees navigate what Billow terms the labyrinth of approvals and appeals that patients sometimes encounter in seeking and receiving care. Quantum’s method is to use predictive modeling to analyze information about a course of treatment as it is occurring, rather than in the postcare phase. The results are better patient outcomes and lower overall costs, which are the goals of Teva’s and virtually every employee well-being program.

“The goal is to have a healthy, productive workforce,” Billow says. “A positive effect of this happens to be improved cost control.”

By looking at comparative general population data, the financial savings during the first three years of the program amount to $27 million, which is another benefit of a happier, healthier workforce.

“Health just naturally is top of mind here,” Billow says. “It’s embedded in Teva’s purpose statement: improving health, making people feel better. We work very closely with Conduent, our communications consultants, to develop messages that resonate with and reach the homes of every employee. And our employee surveys indicate that more than 80 percent of our workforce understands their benefits program and also believes that these programs meet their needs.”

The company also uses incentives that include paying employees in the form of health reimbursement account and health savings account contributions to undergo health screenings. Data is collected throughout, but to honor patient and employee privacy interests, it’s blind metadata; no names are attached to specific health conditions.

With so many Teva employees engaged in the hard sciences, it’s useful to ponder how these components—a sense of belonging, financial security, and a sense of purpose—aren’t typically considered in the healthcare and preventive health mix. Yet, a good body of research supports the assertion that the adverse states of all three can foster illness.

So, while the debate on national healthcare policy remains unsettled, the message from this pharmaceutical company is clear: it’s about so much more than medicine.


Advance Medical is proud to be a partner with Teva Pharmaceuticals. Advance Medical is a world-leading health services provider of innovative, physician-driven programs to people in medical crisis. Its Expertise-on-Demand programs are available to thirty-five million people through relationships with thought-leading employers whose members receive this life-changing benefit.


At Meritain Health, an independent subsidiary of Aetna, we’re your Advocates for Healthier Living. By listening closely to understand our clients’ needs, we offer flexible plans that are also cost-effective. It’s our mission to provide easy-to-use healthcare and guidance that helps our members live in their best health.