Expert Voices

Tanja Madsen
Director, Product Management

Tanja leads a team of experienced health professionals in developing and managing HealthFitness’ suite of health management offerings. She is involved in developing our innovative technology platform, the Persona™ behavior change model, a short engaging health assessment and a new approach to coaching. Tanja’s team includes registered dietitians, health educators, exercise physiologists and behavior change experts who develop and manage programs to improve population health—on behalf of employers and health plans across the nation.

Subject Matter Expertise

  • Emotional and social dimensions of health
  • Aging well
  • Environmental wellness factors

For me, being in HealthFitness product development is the perfect fusion of creativity with knowledge and experience. Everything I have learned in this industry for the past 27 years points straight to the work I do today—creating meaningful, science-based worksite programs that help individuals live more healthy lives.

As a professional educator, it’s ironic that learning new things is a big part of my work. I love collaborating with my team—registered dietitians, health educators, exercise physiologists and behavior change experts—to dig into the science and then produce programs that inspire people to change in a healthy way.

Over the years, I’ve been the one leading an aerobics class or teaching a health education seminar. I’ve managed client accounts and helped business leaders understand and leverage programs for population health. And I’ve worked closely at HealthFitness on developing and improving the structures that support our education content—the technology platform, behavior change model and health assessment. So my approach to every new topic, every new idea, is through the lens of the end user: How will this translate into better employee well-being?

HealthFitness and I have a long history in the incubation, cultivation and advancement of worksite wellness. It started from a simple idea—equipping people to become aware of their health risks and the pathways to adopt healthier habits.

Today, we embrace a whole-person view of health as well-being. We know that physical, emotional, social, financial and environmental factors are part of the equation for workplace productivity and health. When we acknowledge this broader view, we can reach and engage with more people to help them take actionable steps towards better health and well-being.

For example, when I explain to people what I do, they often jump to their personal struggles. They start asking for advice—or confessing their sins about exercise and eating. Everyone struggles. We’ve learned that it’s important not to be judgmental—that’s a barrier in itself.

Understanding and being self-aware are part of the behavior change process, because for the majority of people, you have to identify what’s getting in the way of change before you can take the first small, positive steps. The well-being framework adds context and fills in pieces of the behavior change puzzle.

I find joy in this work, in the creative synergy and the shared energy of the people I work with. After 27 years, I work with a lot of my best friends—friendly, open-minded, grounded people who care about what we do.

I still like that feeling of connecting with a person and supporting them in doing what they want to do to get healthier. Product development still gives me that satisfaction, but I still teach aerobics class, too—it keeps me involved. After all, it’s important to have fun in your life. Life is short. And you don’t want to be stressed out.

Download Tanja Madsen’s personal story

Case Study: University of Louisville

The University of Louisville (UofL) launched Get Healthy Now in 2005 as a voluntary, incentive-based program designed to nurture a culture of health, engage employees, contain health care costs and decelerate the rate of increase in UofL’s overall cost of coverage. A 2012-2013 ROI analysis found UofL health management program participants saw an average claims savings of $1,300.

Advancing employee health from well-being to Well-doing℠

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