Four New Health Systems Partner with Healthways to Bring Dr. Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease to More Patients

Growing Demand Represents the Power of Lifestyle as Treatment to Address the Root Cause of Disease, Enhancing Quality of Life and Longevity

NASHVILLE, Tenn.--()--Four new health systems will partner with Healthways, Inc. (NASDAQ: HWAY), to bring the nationally renowned Dr. Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease(Ornish Reversal Program) to patients in their communities. The Ornish Reversal Program is the first program scientifically proven to not only treat but reverse heart disease through comprehensive lifestyle changes. Since late 2013, when Healthways and Dr. Dean Ornish joined forces to expedite program rollout, 17 hospitals and health systems have added the program to their roster of treatment options for heart disease patients.

Healthways has finalized new agreements with Beacon Health System, South Bend, Indiana; ‘Ekahi Health System, Honolulu, Hawaii; Hunterdon Medical Center, Flemington, New Jersey; and St. Vincent’s HealthCare, Jacksonville, Florida.

“By offering the Ornish Reversal Program at our hospitals, we are honoring our commitment to provide innovative healthcare and well-being services of the highest quality at the greatest value,” said Michael J. O'Neil, chief administrative officer, Beacon Health System. “Adding a program that reverses the effects of heart disease through lifestyle changes dramatically improves the overall health and well-being of our patients, while moving us into the next era of cardiovascular care.”

The Ornish Reversal Program is based on more than three decades of research showing that the progression of coronary artery disease and other chronic conditions can be treated and reversed through lifestyle changes, including exercise, stress management, nutrition and community support. The program and Dr. Ornish’s research have been featured widely in national media, including cover stories in Newsweek, TIME, U.S. News & World Report and The New York Times. His research has been published in the leading peer-reviewed medical and scientific journals.

“I'm thrilled and honored to be working with these new sites that will be offering our lifestyle medicine program for reversing heart disease and other chronic conditions,” said Dr. Ornish. “My colleagues and I at Healthways are grateful for the opportunity to work with them to create a new paradigm of healthcare that empowers patients with knowledge and support to transform their lives.”

The Ornish Reversal Program offers health systems an alternative to existing treatment methodologies such as drugs or surgery at a time when the prevalence and cost of cardiac disease are rising. Clinicians and patients alike are increasingly interested in lifestyle change as treatment that addresses the underlying causes of illness rather than just managing the disease. In addition to reversing heart disease, the Ornish Reversal Program has been proven to be effective in the management of Type 2 diabetes, early-stage prostate cancer and other chronic diseases.

“Patients with heart disease and its related chronic conditions are among the biggest consumers of healthcare resources,” said Ben R. Leedle, Jr., president and chief executive officer of Healthways. “By addressing the root cause of their illness rather than simply treating the symptoms, we see a dramatic improvement in quality of life while decreasing utilization of high-cost treatments such as surgery. With each new site to offer the Ornish Reversal Program, we are demonstrating that lifestyle medicine works for patients and for healthcare providers as they address market demand for more accountable care.”

In 2011, based on Dr. Ornish’s research, Congress and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved Medicare reimbursement for individuals enrolled in the Ornish Reversal Program under a new category, “Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation.” The program is currently reimbursed nationwide by Medicare and by commercial payers in 17 states, including Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia, Hawai‘i Medical Services Association (HMSA), the West Virginia Public Employee Insurance Agency (WVPEIA) and WellPoint under its subsidiaries, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Anthem Blue Cross, Empire BlueCross BlueShield and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia. In addition, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield West Virginia, WVPEIA and HMSA have expanded their coverage to include diabetes and other risk factors for heart disease for qualified individuals.

About Dean Ornish, M.D.

Dean Ornish, M.D., is the founder and president of the non-profit Preventive Medicine Research Institute and Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Ornish received his M.D. from the Baylor College of Medicine, was a clinical fellow in medicine at Harvard Medical School, and completed an internship and residency in internal medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital. He earned a B.A. in humanities summa cum laude from the University of Texas in Austin, where he gave the baccalaureate address.

Dr. Ornish was appointed by President Barack Obama to the White House Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health in 2010 and, previously, by President Clinton to the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy in 2000. He chaired the Google Health Advisory Council 2007-2009.

He has received numerous national and professional awards including being honored by LIFE magazine as “one of the fifty most influential members of his generation,” being recognized as “one of the most interesting people of 1996” by People; and having been described in Forbes magazine as “one of the seven most powerful teachers in the world.”

The Ornish diet, a critical component of the Ornish Program, was rated #1 for heart health by U.S. News & World Report in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

About Healthways

Healthways is the largest independent global provider of well-being improvement solutions. Dedicated to creating a healthier world one person at a time, the Company uses the science of behavior change to produce and measure positive change in well-being for our customers, which include employers, integrated health systems, hospitals, physicians, health plans, communities and government entities. We provide highly specific and personalized support for each individual and their team of experts to optimize each participant’s health and productivity and to reduce health-related costs. Results are achieved by addressing longitudinal health risks and care needs of everyone in a given population. The Company has scaled its proprietary technology infrastructure and delivery capabilities developed over 30 years and now serves approximately 68 million people on four continents. Learn more at


Healthways, Inc.
Chip Wochomurka, 615-614-4493


Healthways, Inc.
Chip Wochomurka, 615-614-4493