Updated April 20 at 9:53pm

Providing a smarter path to a healthy workforce

By Richard Asinof
Contributing Writer
All too often, the focus on health care delivery today is on “our sick-care system” and not on wellness, said Heather Provino, CEO of Provant Health Solutions of East Greenwich. More

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BUSINESS WOMEN

Providing a smarter path to a healthy workforce

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All too often, the focus on health care delivery today is on “our sick-care system” and not on wellness, said Heather Provino, CEO of Provant Health Solutions of East Greenwich.

Provino works to change that equation by running a company that puts the focus on wellness in the workplace, empowering people and businesses to take more responsibility for employees’ health.

Her success in executing on that vision has qualified her to be named a Woman To Watch in health care services in the 2013 Business Women Awards program of Providence Business News.

Provino has led the company on an impressive growth streak since she became CEO in 2001. Today the company, which began with two full-time employers, has grown to more than 5,000 employees nationwide, with about 130 people in Rhode Island. The firm’s client list has grown by 700 percent in the last nine years.

Her success, Provino said, is based on the ability to translate the values of health and well-being into programs that can transform the workplace culture.

“On the individual level, it’s about understanding what your risks are, having personal accountability, understanding how the choices impact that individual’s well-being for today – and the future,” Provino said.

On the corporate level, she continued, population health management is a more complex equation. “You’re finding out what your population [of employees] is most at risk for, and taking the appropriate intervention.”

The change in values around wellness often reflects a change in communications, Provino explained. “Organizations are finally inviting their employees to the table for a discussion of the affordability of health care and explaining each individual’s responsibility for the cost of health care.”

Some of that change in sensibility has been due to the qualities that women bring to corporate leadership, Provino said. “Traditionally, women have been the health CEO in the household in making those decisions.”

Provino said she brings that sense and sensibility to her own workplace, creating a team-oriented culture that seeks to promote a life/work balance, while at the same time encouraging her employees to achieve their own career goals. Her company’s motto is: “We build cultures of health.”

Expressions about the influence of Provino’s leadership can be found on the company’s website in testimony from customers. One corporate customer pointed to success in implementing a wellness program to reduce obesity. “With Provant’s help, we’ve seen a reduction in our population’s overall level of obesity [and] the rate of increase in our insurance costs has slowed significantly.”

Another customer, an international finance executive, praised the customer service provided by one of Provino’s employees, saying: “Your employee Patrick provided me with one of the most positive customer-service experiences I have ever experienced.”

The changing landscape of health care delivery and the implementation of health care reform in Rhode Island, including the launch of the R.I. Health Benefits Exchange, are not problems, according to Provino.

“It’s an evolving landscape,” she said. “The way the exchange will work, the way employers choose to be involved or not, the growth of accountable care organizations. These are opportunities.” •

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