Steve Janicak Supports Tivity Health’s Engaging Presence

Steve Janicak, president of the Healthcare Business Unit at Tivity Health, knows the value of getting people socially and physically active

Photo by René Powell

Advertising was always the dream for Steve Janicak, but he found his calling in healthcare where he could improve the lives of older adults, like his parents who didn’t have access to resources that his company provides today. Janicak grew up in the Motor City and was fascinated by advertising and its messages. After college, he spent the first decade of his career in advertising, leaving Detroit to open his own advertising office in Atlanta.

“It was during this time I had my first foray into healthcare. I was recruited to be the chief marketing officer for Matria Healthcare, which did care management for women who went into pre-term labor, and there was also a disease management component,” Janicak said.

Janicak enjoyed working for Matria, and when the CFO left to join a Nashville firm called MedSolutions, he recruited Janicak as the company’s chief marketing officer. From there, Janicak continued in healthcare, leading sales and marketing teams for IPG and CareCentrix and increasingly focused on supporting health plans serving Medicare and Medicaid members.

Eventually, Janicak joined Franklin, Tennessee-based Tivity Health to support the company’s health improvement programs, particularly those that serve Medicare Advantage members.

The flagship brand of the company’s healthcare division is SilverSneakers, America’s largest senior fitness program sold to Medicare Advantage plans. The company enables healthy lifestyle choices for Medicare Advantage members to achieve better health and reduces medical costs for Medicare Advantage plans by keeping their older population healthier. Programs like this piqued Janicak’s interest and led him to join the company in 2016 as chief growth officer.

“The part that really excited me about this was that I was able to get on the other side of the equation,” Janicak explains. “After spending years advising people against lifestyle choices and explaining how our plans support them, people perceived our health plans as a ‘sick care’ service. I saw this as a chance to help seniors by improving their health and encouraging healthy lifestyle choices.”

This was of great personal interest to Janicak, who served as a caregiver for both of his parents before they were admitted into assisted living.

“My parents suffered from several health issues. Knowing what I know now, I believe social connections would have worked wonders for them,” he notes. “They also didn’t eat well or exercise and as their caregiver, I didn’t feel like I had the kind of support that Tivity Health now provides to caregivers through nutrition, fitness, and social connections.”

steve janicak
Photo by René Powell

In January of 2019, Janicak was named president of Tivity Health’s Healthcare Business Unit, following Tivity Health’s acquisition of Nutrisystem, an industry-leading, customizable weight loss solution, which achieved the company’s vision to create an integrated portfolio of fitness, nutrition, and social engagement solutions to address social determinants of health.

As president, Janicak is responsible for sales, product development, client relations, marketing, member support, and data analytics within the Healthcare Business Unit.

“What we do on a day-to-day basis is to help our Medicare Advantage clients engage their members in meaningful programs that improve health and reduce medical costs,” he says. “To be a great partner, it’s important to understand these payors and their objectives.”

In addition to SilverSneakers and Nutrisystem, Tivity Health’s portfolio includes Prime Fitness, a program providing access to more than 10,000 fitness locations nationwide for individuals ages 18 to 64; WholeHealth Living, a complementary alternative medicine network offering services like chiropractic and acupuncture with a benefit management component; South Beach Diet, a heart-healthy weight management approach; and Wisely Well, a nutrition solution supporting individuals and caregivers who are seeking meal convenience or are recovering after hospitalization or living with chronic conditions.

“The goal now is to figure out how we can tackle the social determinants of health that are most relevant to members and our health plan customers,” Janicak says. “We know we do fitness well. Now, we aim to provide our health plans and their beneficiaries resources to combat social isolation and loneliness to improve health by addressing social determinants of health.”

The newly launched Wisely Well product is one such way to achieve the goal of improving health by addressing the social determinants. Janicak explains that Nutrisystem’s commercial success, food development expertise and national supply chain capabilities have been leveraged to develop Wisely Well meal plans. Wisely Well delivered meals provide seniors with convenient, sustainable nutrition. The meals are medically appropriate for those experiencing conditions or are discharged from the hospital—circumstances that cause food insecurity for older adults.

“I saw this as a chance to help seniors by improving their health and encouraging healthy lifestyle choices.”

Seniors are acutely vulnerable to nutrition challenges stemming from chronic conditions or recovery from extended hospital stays. Hospital readmissions costs Medicare $26 billion annually, with about $17 billion spent on avoidable hospital visits after discharge.

An additional significant social determinant of health for seniors is also social isolation, which affects as many as 43 percent of seniors.

In a survey of SilverSneakers members against a control group of older adults, SilverSneakers participants were less socially isolated and lonely; 20 percent fewer participants suffered from social isolation; and 25 percent fewer participants suffered from loneliness.

“In 2019, we launched our first TV ad campaign in the first quarter when people are considering their New Year’s resolutions,” Janicak said. “We had record breaking numbers of people checking their eligibility on, enrolling in the program.

“We understand that for some people, there’s an intimidation factor when they think about going to a gym or fitness facility for the first time,” Janicak continued. “We can coordinate a first visit for our SilverSneakers members to make the experience easier. If there is a decline in visits, our Experience Center reaches out to SilverSneakers members to help them return.”

With a solid strategic plan and a range of solutions to address many of the key social determinants of health, Janicak is ready to help make the world a healthier place.