President Obama Cites Microsoft for Innovative Health Benefits

Posted by Cecily Hall 
Director, U.S. Benefits

Tuesday morning, I had the distinct honor of visiting the White House along with six other business, labor and government leaders to brief President Obama on  innovative ways private and public organizations are improving the health of workers while reducing costs for employers.  

I was invited to today’s event along with representatives from Safeway, the Ohio Department of Health, Pitney Bowes, REI, Johnson & Johnson and the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union because each of our organizations have pioneered creative and cost-effective health care solutions that President Obama believes hold promise for workplaces across the country.

President Obama asked each of us to share something unique that our organizations are doing that improves health care outcomes and bolsters our bottom line. I cited two Microsoft initiatives.

First, I mentioned a benefit we’ve been providing in the Puget Sound area for two years called Mobile Medicine. (Two decades ago you may have known this practice by another name: House calls.)  By making doctors available to visit ill employees and their family members at their homes, we’ve found that we can save $1 million annually by preventing unnecessary (and costly) trips to the emergency room.  First, an employee calls our 24-hour telephone Health Line to speak with a nurse, who determines the type of care needed.  If that means a doctor visit to the home, one is dispatched right away.  

I also noted our weight management program.  One-third of the U.S. population suffers from obesity.  Since our weight management benefit was instituted in 2003, our employees have lost 50 tons of weight.  They are healthier, happier and more productive. 

After our closed session, when President Obama met with the media, he specifically mentioned our Mobile Medicine benefit as a best practice others might follow to rein-in health care costs and he noted the value of weight management programs as well.

Providing these kinds of benefits to our employees serves two purposes.  They raise the quality of care for our workers and lower the costs for our company, because employees make fewer visits to the doctor.   This is a goal President Obama  indicated he wants the entire country to achieve. 

I’d also like to note that there is a significant effort at Microsoft to bring technology to the forefront of the health care system as a whole.  We have an entire division at the company devoted to improving health globally through software innovation, and at the heart of this is empowering consumers with data at their fingertips to make better health decisions.  Microsoft HealthVault lets our employees personally store copies of their health records from sources across the health system; upload data from home health devices such as digital scales; provide data to healthcare providers, coaches and trainers; and access products and services to help improve their health. 

HealthVault is also available to consumers, not just to Microsoft employees, to organize health records and gain insights to make informed health decisions.

President Obama noted that if companies like ours can create this type of cultural change in the way we deal with medical issues, we can do it as a country as well.  For more on President Obama’s efforts, visit

Good health care is important to everyone’s personal and economic well-being.  I commend the president for organizing today’s event to engage us all and to raise visibility on these critical issues as we begin to tackle health care reform.  

Comments (9)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations Cecily.  No one person and no one company is more deserving for such recognition.  Microsoft's benefits package is among the best in any industry, and the company's innovative prevention programs and resources for employees and everyone else (HealthVault) are world class.    Bill Crounse, MD

  2. Anonymous says:

    Congrats Cecily, what an amazing opportunity to showcase HealthVault and the innovative programs here at Microsoft.  Hopefully, this can help Microsoft win influence in the new administration’s health care reform programs as well.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Wow, this is so exciting!  I think it's great that you got to go and talk up Microsoft.  As a Microsoft employee with type I diabetes, I am so very appreciative of the wonderful benefits that Microsoft has to offer.  I feel very fortunate.  Having these great benefits helps me control my diabetes and to hopefully ward off long-term complications down the road.  Thanks!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Congrats Cecily – you are a great ambassador for Microsoft and the terrific benefits we have.  I hope you received a photo to remember the experience.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Congrats to Microsoft for it's innovative health benefits! As a HR Consultant specilizing in disability management, I've really enjoyed learning more about these initatives (my wife's an employee). It's so terrific that Microsoft is getting the recognition it deserves. Hopefully, organizations nationwide will further evaluate the ROI in reduced lost time and increased productivity.     I especially like the weight management program given the alarming increase in Type II Diabetes diagnoses and the estimated $7.4 billion in annual productivity losses from chronic back pain/conditions (Dec '06 Spine).    Congrats again to you and your team Cicily!

  6. Anonymous says:

    As a 20/20 LifeStyles alumnus that has kept the weight off for over 5 years, I'm proud that this awesome program that Microsoft supports as part of the weight management program received attention in front of the President.  Outstanding and thank you for the program that saved my life!  See my story in the 20/20 LifeStyles TV commercial that debuted this week –

  7. Anonymous says:

    How in the world is it cheaper for a doctor to drive to a person's house and examine you there, than for you to drive to a doctor?

  8. Anonymous says:

    As Microsoft veteran, and a 20/20 Lifestyles alumni, I can truly say how great Microsoft's benefits are, and the fact that they provide support for the 20/20 program is incredible! I went through the program in 2003, and my life has been changed forever! I had never really run more than a mile or two, and have run 3 full marathons and 6 halves since 2006! In addition to my active lifestyle, my mind is so much clearer, and I feel much more productive at work…Thanks Microsoft and 20/20 Lifestyles!

  9. Anonymous says:

    I have worked for Microsoft for almost a decade (left in 2007). Microsoft Benefits were simply incredible. In particular, I was able to benefit from the 20/20 LifeStyles program developed by Dr. Mark Dedomenico and his simply amazing team. This was truly a life changing opportunity. At the start of the program, my physiological age was evaluated at more than 10 years over my actual chronological age. At the end of the program, my evaluation showed 12 years less than my actual age. I used to say that the only way to make me run would be to aim with something lethal at me.  By the end of the program, I was enrolling in all sorts of running events…  The 20/20 LifeStyles program was the most rewarding experience of my adult life. Thank you Dr. Mark (and Team) for such an amazing program! Thank you Microsoft for offering it as the core component of our Weight Management benefit.

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