Put on your workout gear because there are a new set of incentives related to working out and being healthy. Points, rewards, badges, and competition among fellow coworkers are all part of Blue Shield’s plan to make wellness more fun. Blue Shield, a major West Coast health plan, is offering a gamified health plan called Wellvolution in order to provide extra incentives to “feel the burn.”
Information Week reports that Blue Shield offers three platforms with gamification incentives. The Shape Up Shield focuses on increasing physical activity through wellness competitions and tracking progress. An online platform provides a social media like setting so users can do things like setting goals, posting comments, and receiving virtual encouragement. A new program offering The Daily Challenge is the MeYou Health platform, which is similar to the Shape Up Shield but adds personally tailored Daily Challenges to improve wellbeing. The third platform, called Healthrageous, is more of a form of coaching and uses mobile devices to get users involved in wellness and chronic diseases.
So are these gamification incentives working? The answer is yes. In the past three years, “80% of Blue Shield employees have participated in at least one of its wellness programs. During that period, there has been a 50% drop in smoking prevalence and a similar increase in regular physical activity among employees. The incidence of hypertension has fallen by two-thirds, and disability claims are down among participating workers, but not others.”
The success of the wellness programs relies heavily on the incentives, which in this case include participants paying $3 million less in health care insurance premiums and receiving “health days” off from work. Bryce Williams, director of Wellvolution says, “It’s hard to eat less, exercise more, and give up addictive habits like smoking. But there’s no reason it can’t be social and fun, too. And once it becomes relevant to people’s everyday experience and becomes less of a chore, and less about willpower and abstinence, that’s when engagement rates start to rise.”
If you knew me at all, you would know I get winded climbing up a flight of stairs and that I detest sweating. Essentially I do not workout, but I worked for a company a couple of years ago that offered financial incentives to improve my wellness. Working out could be tracked towards those incentives and the dining options existed in a bizaaro world where healthy choices were more affordable. Before I knew it, I was being and eating healthier and while I wasn’t making a conscious decision to improve my wellness, the incentives were something that I couldn’t resist. In my opinion, if someone as opposed to working out such as myself can be incentivized into it, the possibilities are endless.