Wellness Professional Spotlight: Kristina Bignoli, Phoenix Children’s Hospital

2413This month we’ve spoken with Kristina Bignoli at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, AZ. Learn more about how Kristina helped these caregivers take care of themselves.

I started my journey thinking I would enter the field of abnormal psychology. During my last semester, as an undergrad in psychology, I took a Health Psychology course and fell in love with the idea of applying psychology theories to health and wellness. This led to an additional undergraduate degree in Health Sciences and graduate degrees in both Health Administration and Education.

I began my career as a student health educator on Northern Arizona University’s campus, followed by an internship and eventual job at Healthnet of Arizona, a health insurance provider. Moving forward, I joined Healthwaves, a provider of corporate wellness programs to companies throughout the state of Arizona, which led to an opportunity at Chandler Regional and Mercy Gilbert Medical Centers as their wellness program coordinator.

After seven years learning about, developing and implementing programs in hospital settings, I was presented with the opportunity to grow another wellness program at Phoenix Children’s Hospital (PCH), where I am currently the wellness program manager. I feel blessed to have experienced so many different wellness settings.

What parts of your new program have your population found the most exciting?

The PCH staff has truly embraced the additional wellness program opportunities. One of the first programs implemented was the HealthyWage Team Weight Loss Challenge. We were amazed by the response, especially since there were only a couple of weeks to promote. Every day we hear another inspirational story brought on by this challenge. Our hiking group, half and full marathon trainings and Rock Corporate Lunch and Learns have been well received. We also held our first Farmer’s Market and PCH Produce Club (order produce baskets online, pick up onsite) in October which was extremely exciting and got a buzz going throughout the campus. This is a culture that likes to work in teams, but may have also, taken on individual wellness challenges which allow for innovative and creative wellness initiatives.

Do you think there is a difference for Health Systems in comparison to corporate environments?


First, caregivers often forget to take care of themselves, since they are invested in helping others. For PCH, this point is especially relevant, because our staff takes care of our community’s most important asset, our children.

Second, hospital schedules are chaotic. There are three different shifts, coverage issues and offsite (urgent care) considerations. A nurse can’t leave a patient to jet off to a Lunch ‘N’ Learn on Shoes and Equipment for Running.

Last, as a visitor to a hospital, you may not realize all the people and personalities employed to make the organization run smoothly. Hospitals have strict procedural standards and regulatory requirements to guarantee patients and their families are provided with care that is safe and effective.

All these issues (and many more not mentioned) have to be taken into consideration when designing a program. In my experience, careful evaluation of the culture is imperative when putting together a comprehensive program. Data collection through interest surveys, culture audits, aggregate claims information and health assessment/biometric results is the first step in accounting for the variables presented when working with this population. Also, collaborating with other experts in the industry is not only rewarding, but also very helpful when dealing with challenges.

Are you integrating incentives into your program?

Again, I can’t stress enough the importance of data collection. A cultural audit and interest survey should ask the population what they value as important. It may surprise you. It isn’t always a financial incentive that is the driving force behind behavior change.

To answer the question, yes, we do integrate incentives into our program. We determine the appropriate incentive based on data collection and the priority of the behavioral change we are looking for. For example, at this time, the number of medical eligible employees taking a health assessment data is more important than how many people attended the ‘group run’ on Saturday. Both have an incentive, but the value may be more for one than the other.

HealthyWage is a great way to make people aware of or remind them there is a corporate wellness program up and running. The incentives are significant enough to catch the eye of some who may not be actively participating in some of the wellness programs yet.

What do you feel success looks like for a wellness program?

Most of us know there is always a watchful eye on return on investment (ROI). Most of us, also, know that ROI takes time (and valid/reliable outcome data) to prove. Success, to me, is a shift in perception. I listen closely to what employees are saying on campus.

When what I hear goes from, “I am not sure we have a wellness program here. We might.” To, “Yes. PCH does have a wellness program. Here is a calendar of events” or “Can you believe how great our team is doing?!” I know a shift has taken place. The culture is beginning to change. With that change, come natural wellness advocates and champions whose excitement extends to others generating more participation and excitement, creating a healthier community.

 If we waved a wand and gave you infinite resources, what would you add?

First, I must say, Phoenix Children’s Hospital is new and beautiful. From a wellness standpoint, I am envisioning community gardens, living stairwells, groomed walking paths, a mobile fitness trailer, wellness news network (studio)…I really could go on and on! Anything that will engage our employees.

What advice would you love to have been given 3 months ago?

Remember to be patient. Take time to learn the culture. Be receptive to new ideas.

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