SOURCE: Virgin HealthMiles

Virgin HealthMiles

January 26, 2011 09:26 ET

Virgin HealthMiles Leverages Social Connections to Create and Sustain a Culture of Health

Company Shares Data Supporting Program's Ability to Create Culture of Health, Value of Social Networking in Creating Healthy Behavior Change

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwire - January 26, 2011) - Is better health just in the next cubicle over? Virgin HealthMiles, a leading provider of employee health and productivity programs, thinks so. The company today shared data supporting the program's proven ability to leverage individuals' social connections to create and sustain a workplace culture of health. Virgin HealthMiles members have launched over 100,000 personal health challenges to their colleagues with the HealthMiles program offered by their employers. These challenges, which members personally create by defining the participants, rules and rewards, provide extra motivation to be active and live a healthy lifestyle.

With challenges, Virgin HealthMiles members leverage the power of social networks to form communities and build enthusiasm, camaraderie, and healthy competition with their peers. These active communities have helped members take more than 400 billion steps since the HealthMiles program's inception in 2005 -- with over 200 billion steps coming in the last year alone. Community challenges have played a vital role in spurring HealthMiles members to develop healthy cultures in the workplace and increase their levels of physical activity, which has been proven to help organizations lower healthcare costs.

According to a recent Buck Consultants' report, employers are increasingly seeking to create a "culture of health" -- an organizational climate that promotes healthy lifestyle choices. The survey found that only 10 percent of U.S. respondents believe their organization has fully achieved a culture of health today, while 85 percent intend to pursue it for the future. In addition, a recent Towers Watson survey found that 26 percent of high-performing companies with relatively low medical costs plan to incorporate some element of social networking into their employee health initiatives by 2012.

"Communities are a key factor in building a culture of health and data shows employees are more likely to stick with employee wellness programs when friends join them. Helping employees create social connections is a core part of the Virgin HealthMiles program," said Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin HealthMiles. "For more than five years, Virgin HealthMiles has been working with leading organizations to successfully build workplace communities that drive healthy behavior change. We're excited to see members create their 100,000th personal challenge and take more than 400 billion steps -- the equivalent of circling the globe 8,000 times. We look forward to continuing to help members further develop their social networks and increase their levels of activity, while helping more organizations build healthier workforces in 2011."

Virgin HealthMiles helps large employers create and nurture cultures of health. The company's Pay-for-Prevention™ approach motivates sustained behavioral change that helps employees and their adult dependents avoid the onset of lifestyle-related chronic conditions that drive the majority of healthcare costs impacting businesses and their employees today. Since people are motivated in different ways at different points in time, Virgin HealthMiles uses multiple behavior change strategies to get and keep members motivated to move, including goal setting, progress tracking, feedback, financial incentives, competition and social motivation. These elements, delivered in the fun, friendly Virgin experience, have proven to be highly effective at sustaining long-term engagement, and lead to positive health shifts and cost savings. 

Through Virgin HealthMiles' social network functionality, members can build personal profiles, find commonalities with other members, create personal challenges with their friends, chat online to cheer each other on, develop informal peer groups for lunchtime walks or other activities, engage with the broader HealthMiles community by sharing healthy tips and personal success stories, and much more. Following are testimonials from Virgin HealthMiles members on the impact of connecting with their peers:

  • "Every time I have an opportunity, I engage in challenges, especially if they're with guys I work with. We drive each other. There will be many days where I'll hit 30,000 steps a day in a challenge. They really push you more than you'd normally be pushed." 
  • "We love to show off our pedometers! You see it all the time and it creates interest and a topic for discussion, which leads to our finding walking partners and encouraging each other."
  • "Our employer organizes regular challenges and randomly assigns us to teams. That gives us the opportunity to interact with and encourage others we may not otherwise get to deal with."

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, Intuit, OhioHealth, Ochsner Health System, MWV, Protective Life, 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 http://us.virginhealthmiles.com/aboutus/Pages/PR_VirginHealthMiles.aspx.

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