WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - February 23, 2010) - The National Business Group on Health announced today that it is expanding its partnership with the University of Michigan's prestigious Health Management Research Center (UM-HMRC) as the research authority for EMPAQ® (Employer Measures of Productivity, Absence and Quality™) -- a set of standardized metrics and benchmarking tools that enables large employers to assess the impact of program design on workforce health and productivity at the employer, industry and national level.

Under the expanded partnership, the UM-HMRC, led by Dee Edington, Ph.D., Director of the UM-HMRC, will play a more prominent role in providing the expert research analysis necessary for employers to use EMPAQ® for developing comprehensive and cost-effective solutions and interventions.

"As employers work past the recession and navigate forward in this reset economy, we are extremely pleased to continue to provide our membership with access to such a respected academic and research organization," said Helen Darling, President of the Business Group. "The expansion of this strategic relationship will help realize the mission of EMPAQ® -- to help companies improve shareholder value by promoting data-informed decisions that optimize workforce health and productivity."

Dr. Edington and his world-renowned team have been focused on the business of health management and the economics of building a corporate culture of health for more than three decades. UM-HMRC's 38-person team, including ten doctoral-level researchers, possesses a vast array of experience in research, data analytics and client services.

Dr. Edington stated, "We recognize how critical it is for employers and their strategic data partners to work together to create a culture of health. The ability for employers to easily interpret the outcomes of health care, disability and absence data comparisons that EMPAQ® offers is critical to improving the overall performance of their programs and keeping their workforce healthy and productive. We look forward to carrying on this significant research with the Business Group and their members."

Stacy Hodgins, Director of the Business Group's Institute on Heath, Productivity, and Human Capital that oversees EMPAQ®, affirms, "Our strategic alliance with UM-HMRC will provide Business Group members and EMPAQ® participants with a focused perspective on the future by helping them to understand the health risks in their populations and to improve their employees' health status while highlighting best practices for improving existing programs and developing new ones."

The EMPAQ® data collection period for 2009 program data will be open from May 10 - July 1, 2010 for aggregate and claims level data. All EMPAQ® participants, including data suppliers who submit their client's data, will receive data verification reports as well as individualized EMPAQ® benchmarking reports.

More information about EMPAQ® is available online at www.empaq.org or by email at empaq@businessgrouphealth.org.

About The University of Michigan Health Management Research Center:

Under the direction and guidance of Dee Edington, Ph.D., the University of Michigan Health Management Research Center (UM-HMRC) has been in the business of health management evaluation since 1980. During this time, the UM-HMRC has collected health and lifestyle behavior data on over 3 million different individuals and consulted with many large organizations. It has grown to be recognized as one of the top academic research centers in the world in studying health management within organizations. For more information, visit www.hmrc.umich.edu.

About the National Business Group on Health:

The National Business Group on Health is a non-profit membership organization of more than 280 members, including 60 of the Fortune 100. The National Business Group on Health is devoted to providing practical solutions to its employer-members' most important health care problems and serving as the voice for large employers on national health care issues and public policy. Its members purchase health and disability benefits for over 55 million people. For more information, visit www.businessgrouphealth.org.

Contact Information: Media Contact: Ed Emerman 609-275-5162 eemerman@eaglepr.com