SOURCE: Virgin HealthMiles

Virgin HealthMiles

August 23, 2011 09:48 ET

Employees "Got Game?" Each Day Hundreds of Thousands of Virgin HealthMiles Members Demonstrate the Power of Game Mechanics to Drive a Healthy Workplace Culture

Innovative Approach to Workplace Wellness Delivers Industry-Leading Engagement Rates, Measurable Results for Employers

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwire - Aug 23, 2011) - "Health gaming" may be the buzz phrase of the day, but every day's a chance to 'get in the game' for the more than 700,000 employees represented by Virgin HealthMiles, a pioneer in applying game mechanics to driving sustained, healthy behaviors. Virgin developed its award-winning HealthMiles program in 2005, which incorporates proven game mechanics as one of several behavior change strategies that motivate employees to make the healthy lifestyle choices that help organizations control healthcare costs.

"Game mechanics are a powerful tool in driving engagement in the workplace, for both wellness programs and bridging to all-important offline behaviors," said Tom Abshire, senior vice president of marketing and member engagement for Virgin HealthMiles. "Game mechanics are just one of the engagement strategies Virgin HealthMiles employs with our programs to ensure members can easily learn how to participate, what they need to do to make healthy behavior changes, and better understand their progress against goals. All of these factors are critical for long-term employee engagement. Over the years, our approach has driven participation rates nearly three times the industry average and helped employers realize significant workforce health improvements and cost savings."

Health Gamification Benefits: Healthier Workforces, More Engaged Employees, Lower Healthcare Costs
The Virgin HealthMiles program was developed, analyzed and tested by fitness experts and technology leaders to create an effective, engaging, and proven approach to help employees improve their long-term health. The company uses a points system; challenges and quests; and levels of achievement and incentives where employees 'win' for healthy behavior change. Virgin HealthMiles has demonstrated that health gamification is one of several effective elements in creating healthier workforces. For example:

  • Motivated by game-like challenges and program levels to increase their physical activity, the cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle, HealthMiles members have earned more than five billion HealthMiles (points) since the program's inception and have taken more than 550 billion collective steps -- that's like walking around the world more than 11,000 times.
  • Challenges are one of several tools that help drive employee engagement. Members not only participate in challenges, they add to the game themselves. In the past few years, HealthMiles members have challenged their peers to over 150,000 competitions for prizes, lunches or sheer bragging rights. At any one time, more than 1,000 member-created challenges are in progress.
  • The most effective games keep players coming back time and again to hone their skills and up the ante. Virgin HealthMiles members regularly use a variety of tools such as activity trackers, computerized biometric measurement stations and individualized, user-friendly online portals to play the game, track their progress against goals, learn about new challenges and keep up on their points status -- all while forming healthy habits in the process. In fact, 80 percent of HealthMiles members use their GoZone® pedometers daily; they've taken more than 18 million biometrics measurements since 2005; and HealthMiles members visit the website twice per week on average.
  • But getting employees to play the game itself isn't the end goal. Rather it's one strategy that helps employers create a workplace culture of health and drive sustained offline behavior shifts. Thanks to Virgin HealthMiles' fun, innovative approach to employee wellness, a recent 18-month study of 11,000 HealthMiles members showed 50 percent of participants who were inactive at the start are now active; HealthMiles members are 2.5 times more active than the average US adult; and, in 2010, nearly 200,000 HealthMiles members reached Level 3 or higher -- the benchmark for continually achieving the recommended amount of daily physical activity.

Virgin HealthMiles: Gamifying Health Since 2005
Game mechanics, along with other key motivators, are driving industry leading participation rates and business impact for Virgin HealthMiles clients. With Virgin HealthMiles' programs, members get in the game by using tools to track their progress both on- and offline. Employers and employees alike can create personal and community challenges to motivate each other to increase their daily physical activity and check leaderboards throughout the challenge to see rankings. The social connections members form help reinforce healthy habits and personal accountability, and the program's social tools let members share success stories and virtually cheer one another on to improved health.

For example, at Ochsner Health System, a large Louisiana-based healthcare system with seven hospitals and 35 clinics, more than 85 percent of the company's 10,000 benefits eligible employees are playing the HealthMiles game. Of those employees participating, more than 50 percent earned enough points to achieve Level 3 in the game, and received a substantial health insurance premium discount for 2010. Ochsner's internal studies are showing actual cost savings from this approach. In 2010, Ochsner held the growth in its cost of healthcare to nearly one-third the national average. To learn more about Ochsner Health System's results and other workplace wellness success stories, visit:

About Virgin HealthMiles
Virgin HealthMiles provides technology-based employee health programs that pay people to get active. The company's Pay-for-Prevention™ approach, based on physical activity and healthy lifestyle change, attracts an average of 40 percent of employees who participate, which helps organizations reduce medical costs and improve employee productivity and satisfaction. Over 120 industry leaders representing more than 700,000 employees across the U.S., including American Diabetes Association, OhioHealth, Ochsner Health System, MWV, SunGard, SunTrust, and Timberland have selected Virgin HealthMiles' award-winning program for their employees. The company is a member of Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group. For more information, visit

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