Workplace Wellness Code of Conduct for the Broker/Consultant/Advisor/Third Party Administrator
By Wellness Compliance Institute Board of Directors
Healthcare insurance brokers, advisors, consultants, third-party administrators (“Advisors”) are in a unique position to have significant influence on workplace wellness strategies for clients.
One task that the Advisor generally takes on is to identify a wellness vendor for the client. It is critical that Advisors are aware that workplace wellness professionals come from varying backgrounds and experience, which may include health education and promotion, public health, health coaching, fitness or athletic training, diet and nutrition, human resources, insurance and complementary alternative and lifestyle medicine professions (such as lifestyle medicine, acupuncture, massage therapy). Occasionally these individuals have licensed degrees (e.g. ,Dietitian), and more rarely do they have licensed clinical degrees (e.g., Registered Nurse).
The following provides guidance on professional expectations specific to the Advisor who helps guide a wellness program and/or choose wellness vendors for employer clients.
This Code of Conduct is founded upon ethical principles that focus on the ideal rather than obligatory rules (although following rules is part of acting ethically). The Code of Conduct emphasizes the character of professionals and their relationships with employers and others chosen to design and implement workplace wellness programs. It is the responsibility of the Advisor to aspire to meet this Code of Conduct and to encourage other Advisors to do the same.
Workplace Wellness Code of Conduct for the Advisor
An Advisor shall:
- Stay current with employee health and wellness laws.
- Avoid involvement in any false, fraudulent, outdated or deceptive promises/activities.
- Avoid positioning oneself as having expertise outside the scope of his/her role or training, especially regarding clinical issues involving a health plan or wellness services.
- Be aware of and address real and perceived professional conflicts of interest. Promote transparency by disclosing competing commitments and interests (such as financial interests, bonuses, commissions) or endorsement of particular wellness vendors, products and/or services due to opportunities for personal gain.
- Free of self-interest, openly and honestly advise clients on currently implemented wellness services that show low value, that are not used by employees unless significant incentives/penalties are attached, or that do not result in demonstrated behavior change/health improvement in employees.
- Maintain, improve, and expand professional competence in wellness program delivery and regulations through continued study and education, as well as membership, participation and leadership in professional organizations.
- Set accurate expectations by clients and wellness program participants regarding the acquisition, aggregation, analysis, and reporting of health and wellness data, including the associated complexities and costs.
- Facilitate communication between wellness vendors and employers.
- Be knowledgeable and transparent about wellness vendor qualifications and experience for proposed services.
- Critically investigate wellness vendor claims of Return on Investment (ROI) or other benefits before recommending services to clients. For clients with existing wellness service providers who have made ROI claims, require that those service providers clearly demonstrate, with verifiable evidence, claimed savings by showing direct links from the wellness services to the reported ROI.
- Understand and advise that workplace wellness programs are not clinical in nature. Most wellness certifications (e.g., health coach) and degrees (e.g., health promotion) are not licensed or regulated clinical degrees, and therefore are not intended to provide clinical expertise, clinical advice, clinical programming, or clinical care to employees.
- Have a thorough understanding of the HIPAA Privacy Rules, in particular “need to know” and “minimum necessary” provisions, as well as rules and obligations surrounding access to employee health data.
- Advocate for the protection of personally identifiable or protected health information to the fullest extent required, defined and permitted by law.
- Understand that there are limits to what an employer/plan sponsor can see with respect to wellness participant health data. Avoid overstating/overpromising an employer’s right to view employees’ personal health data (e.g., making statements such as “a self-funded employer can see whatever they want”).
- Provide leadership and consultative services to stakeholders in achieving regulatory, certification and organizational compliance in the delivery and creation of wellness programs, products and services.
- Openly communicate to colleagues, program sponsors and professional organizations when there is suspected unlawful/unethical practices that violate this Code of Conduct.