SOURCE: Virgin HealthMiles

Virgin HealthMiles

April 27, 2011 08:44 ET

Secret of Employee Wellness Success Is Long-Term Engagement, Says Virgin HealthMiles; Shares Data Showing Members Are 2.5 Times More Active Than Average U.S. Adult

Company's Unique Approach to Employee Engagement Helps Corporations Improve Workforce Health, Curb Rising Healthcare Costs

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwire - Apr 27, 2011) - More and more U.S. businesses are offering incentives-based corporate wellness programs that claim to improve workforce health and help employers lower healthcare costs. Yet average participation rates in such programs hover around 15 percent. With such low participation rates, how can employers expect to see successful workforce health improvements from their investments? According to Virgin HealthMiles, the key to success with employee wellness initiatives is not only in getting employees to participate, but motivating them to stay engaged over time.

"We know people are motivated by different things at different points in time, so we provide a wide range of motivators to keep employees engaged for the long haul: goal setting, progress tracking, feedback, financial incentives, competition and social motivation," says Tom Abshire, senior vice president of marketing and member engagement for Virgin HealthMiles. "With participation rates nearly three times the industry average, we excel at getting and keeping members engaged in long-term healthy behavior change. This helps prevent the onset of costly chronic conditions and diseases impacting businesses and their employees today."

Consider this: chronic diseases drive 75 percent of healthcare spending, of which 95 percent is spent on managing current cases of disease. Just five percent of healthcare spending is focused on preventing chronic diseases, which are growing globally in epidemic proportions. With most U.S. businesses covering some or all or their employees' healthcare premiums, corporations must shift their focus to prevention in order to bend the healthcare cost curve. The only way to do this successfully is to get and keep employees engaged in prevention-focused wellness efforts over the long-term.

Virgin HealthMiles helps organizations create healthier, more productive workforces and realize lower healthcare costs thanks to its unique Pay-for-Prevention™ approach that is proven to motivate sustained behavior change over time. Virgin HealthMiles members are proven to be 2.5 times more active than the average U.S. adult thanks to its unique, industry-leading approach to employee engagement. What's more, the company recently shared the results of an analysis of 11,000 HealthMiles members over an 18-month period. While 70 percent of this population was not getting the CDC's recommended amount of physical activity at the start of the program, 50 percent of those inactive participants shifted their behaviors to achieve and maintain physical activity levels exceeding the CDC guidelines. This means that 35 percent of the total population changed daily activity behaviors based on the HealthMiles program's intervention. These numbers significantly impact healthcare costs, since physical activity is the cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle. Getting the recommended amount of physical activity has been proven to prevent or remediate 55 percent of Type 2 diabetes and 35 percent of coronary artery disease.

Leveraging best practices in program design, Virgin HealthMiles works with companies across the U.S. and helps them maximize the impact of their overall wellness strategies. With its programs, Virgin HealthMiles combines the fun and innovation the Virgin brand is known for, along with validated data and real-time reporting, to drive long-term employee engagement and healthy behavior change across an employer's workforce. This helps organizations create a culture of health and enables them to measure and manage the impact of their employee health investments.

The company's unique Integrated Incentives solution makes it easy for organizations to integrate multiple incentives-based programs, streamline communications, and cross-promote programs to drive higher engagement and better results. The company has launched a new activation campaign to continue driving high levels of employee interest in its program. The campaign, titled "The World is Your Workout," introduces employees to the HealthMiles program, invites them to join and features a variety of ongoing communications strategies that keeps the program fresh, exciting and current over time.

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. The program is offered by employers, government entities, and insurers. 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 www.virginhealthmiles.com.

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