Healthways and Dr. Dean Ornish Join Forces


Global well-being improvement leader Healthways today announced it has entered into an exclusive partnership with Dean Ornish, MD, to operate and license his Lifestyle Management Programs. Dr. Ornish’s programs, combined with Healthways’ well-being improvement platform, will enable the Company to comprehensively leverage proven lifestyle behavior change programs that serve the purpose of preventing, treating and reversing certain chronic diseases.

The Ornish programs have been proven effective against coronary artery disease, Type 2 diabetes and early-stage prostate cancer. They will both complement and extend Healthways’ existing portfolio of well-being improvement solutions. Healthways will now train and certify health systems, health plans, hospitals and physician groups, allowing them to deliver programs that can manage and help reverse the progression of chronic diseases. These chronic diseases drive disproportionate medical costs and health-related lost productivity in businesses and communities throughout the country.

These unique lifestyle change programs qualify for reimbursement from many payers, including Medicare, under current fee-for-service payment. The Ornish programs also make sense in the rapidly emerging value-based reimbursement systems that reward health systems and physicians for positively changing the underlying health and well-being of populations and their associated health-related costs in a sustainable manner.

Dr. Ornish is widely known as one of America’s leading biomedical scientists and is a renowned physician and the preeminent leader in evidence-based lifestyle treatments for chronic diseases. For more than three decades, he has directed a series of scientific research studies published in leading peer-reviewed journals showing, for the first time, that the progression of even severe coronary heart disease can often be treated and reversed without drugs or surgery by making comprehensive lifestyle changes.

In addition, these studies documented that the progression of other chronic diseases may also be reversible by making significant lifestyle changes. For example, he was the first researcher to direct a randomized controlled trial demonstrating that comprehensive lifestyle changes may slow, stop or even reverse the progression of early-stage prostate cancer. He has also directed research showing that changing lifestyle changes gene expression—turning off genes that promote chronic diseases and turning on genes that help prevent them.

In January 2011, Medicare began covering “Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease” under a new benefit category, “intensive cardiac rehabilitation.” This is the first time that Medicare has covered an integrative medicine program.

In describing Dr. Ornish’s pioneering work, Dr. Mehmet Oz said, “Time and again, Dr. Dean Ornish has scientifically proven that what was once thought to be medically impossible is, in fact, possible. His work is truly revolutionary.”

J. Craig Venter, PhD, one of the leading scientists of the 21st century, the first to sequence the human genome and the creator of the first cell with a synthetic genome, said, “Dr. Dean Ornish has done more than anyone to bring modern science to the nutrition field.”

In Dr. Ornish’s book, The Spectrum, President Clinton wrote, “In 1993, Hillary asked Dr. Dean Ornish to consult with us on improving our health and well-being and to train the chefs who cooked for us at The White House, Camp David and Air Force One. I felt better and lost weight when I followed his recommendations. My genes may have been improving as well! If you want to see where medicine is likely to be five or ten years from now, read this book today.”

“Having seen and documented what a powerful difference comprehensive lifestyle changes can make, it’s inspiring to partner with Healthways to reach so many more people with information and programs for empowering and transforming lives,” said Dr. Ornish. “This is about scalability and sustainability. With our shared core values and a common commitment, together we can reach a much wider group of people who can benefit from an improved quality of life. I admire and respect Healthways’ integrity around its science and evidence-based approaches that prove to be focused on outcomes. There is real synergy that will allow us to do much more together than we can do separately. In working with more than 45 million people worldwide, Healthways has been able to show outcomes that not only improve health and well-being, but also achieve significant medical cost savings and improved productivity.”

According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, there is a correlation between high well-being and lower incidence of heart disease and diabetes. Nationwide, the top 10 well-being cities have an average heart attack rate of 2.8 percent, compared to the nation’s bottom 10 well-being cities, which have an average rate of 5.5 percent. Also, the top 10 well-being cities have an average diabetes rate of 7.1 percent versus 14.0 percent among the bottom 10 well-being cities.

“We have continued to evolve our comprehensive well-being improvement solution through a history of building, buying and partnering to integrate and deploy the very best evidence-based, scientifically proven methods available,” said Ben R. Leedle, Jr., Healthways president and chief executive officer. “We have long been able to improve personal lifestyle behaviors as a measurable method to prevent the onset of, and reduce the risks associated with, chronic disease. Now, through our exclusive partnership with Dr. Dean Ornish, we will be able to deliver lifestyle behavior change as a powerful treatment method for more effectively managing and even reversing these chronic diseases. We are absolutely thrilled to work with Dr. Ornish, whose purpose to transform America’s understanding of how lifestyle choice impacts health and disease aligns so closely with our purpose to create a healthier world, one person at a time.”

The Ornish diet was rated #1 for heart health by US News & World Report in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

For additional information about Dr. Ornish’s program at Healthways call: 1-877-888-3091, email or visit