The Envolve Center for Health Behavior Change

UPDATE: Envolve Awards Grants to Support a Deeper Understanding of Medicaid Outcomes

Creating real-world impact through health research

The Envolve Center for Health Behavior Change is a unique industry-academic partnership between Washington University in St. Louis and Duke University, in conjunction with industry leaders at Envolve and Centene.

The mission of the Envolve Behavior Research Center is to improve the health of vulnerable populations by creating, testing, implementing, and advancing effective behavior-based innovations supported by research evidence that remove barriers to healthful behavior and facilitate pathways for healthier living. 

The Envolve Center seeks to accelerate translational health research through its industry-academic model. This model leverages the insights of Fortune 500-company Centene Corporation and subsidiary Envolve on managed care, along with the research and evaluation expertise of the Brown School at Washington University and Duke University. By translating the science of behavior change into practical strategies and interventions that foster sustainable health behavior change, the Center is positioned to improve the effectiveness of health care delivery, influence positive health outcomes, and decrease healthcare costs, especially for the nation’s Medicaid population.

The Center’s research agenda is focused on the following:

Using insights of behavioral economics to improve health outcomes & promote health behavior change

To begin our study in this area, we retrospectively analyze health coaching calls with members enrolled in our Healthy Solutions for Life diabetes coaching program. This analysis will pinpoint new opportunities for applying behavioral economics theories to this program, as well as to other programs in the future.

By improving and designing programs based on health research, we will be better equipped than anyone to address the unique needs of our members.

Tailoring communications for improved health outcomes

While we have always known the importance of communicating with members, we’re diving deeper into what truly improves engagement and health outcomes. In our usability testing of a goal setting platform, we are examining the most efficient and effective communication methods to improve member engagement, in order to achieve the best results. The findings of this health research study will inform the design and content of a new health coaching program. The Envolve Center is examining:

  •   When to introduce the goal setting platform and what to call it
  •   How to present personalized targets for behavior change
  •   Which methods of capturing data are the most intuitive for users to set specific behavior change goals

A separate health research study will develop a life values assessment to inform our interactions with members. The research is exploring members’ personal values and their impact on health behaviors associated with diet, exercise, tobacco use, and stress; as well as attitudes toward disease prevention and trust in doctors. Understanding the relationship between personal values and health behaviors and attitudes will help us design targeted health communications and tailored health coaching programs that more effectively engage and motivate members to make healthy choices.

In order to improve health outcomes, our programs and services need to touch as many lives as possible. By applying our research findings to our outreach strategy, we can offer more effective health solutions to our members.

Designing and implementing an inter-generational lifestyle change program for parents and their children

Promoting lifestyle change in children by delivering educational interventions to their parents is more complicated than encouraging healthy behaviors in adults who are self-motivated. Through our health research, we will maximize the effects of these programs, starting with our Raising Well Pediatric Obesity Program and our Pediatric Asthma Program.

The Envolve Center is researching:

  • Whether or not automatic enrollment as a recruitment strategy improves program participation
  • How offering different types of incentives impacts participation in the programs
  • Ways in which peer coaches, home visitations, or individualized contact may enhance lifestyle change interventions

By including the entire family in an intervention, we expect to impact more than just the child and instill changes that will become sustainable.

Designing health research studies to answer behavior-based questions using existing data

The health programs of Envolve and Centene have generated a tremendous amount of data that can be leveraged to further our insights into behavior change, and assess and enhance the impact of our current programming. Using this data to answer behavior-based questions allows us to maximize our resources and catalyze behavior change.

Through this method, we are researching an ongoing list of strategic questions that will help us improve outcomes and lead to better program design.  We’re currently studying whether home visits from respiratory therapists lead to better outcomes for members with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  We will evaluate outcomes including emergency room visits, inpatient admissions, and relevant claims data and HEDIS measures.

Read more about the Envolve Center.