Is money spent on wellness, well spent?

By Mike Quigg

The short answer is, yes, but navigating your way through the barrage of wellness buzzwords like “advisory boards,” “engagement,” “challenges,” “culture of health,” etc. is tough. Even tougher is resisting temptation from vendors promising “the next best thing” to quickly solve your health or happiness problems.

If your goal is improving the quality of people’s lives by improving their health, investing in wellness can be a great investment— if you choose a partner focused on doing what works, not necessarily selling “what’s new.”

Let’s consider the hot trends over the past couple of years. A while back, challenges were all the rage. Until those who invested in them focused and realized that this approach had its own set of challenges (pun intended) with sustained engagement and attracting the right audience, challenges alone don’t drive engagement.

More recently, there’s been a quite a movement toward financial well-being solutions. Sounds great, but our research shows that only 7 percent of members are looking to their employer- sponsored resources for financial help. It raises a question as to whether the robust solutions being offered are going to be used or is a different strategy needed to yield a positive impact? And, unless you are living totally off the grid (in which case you are not reading this), everyone has heard the buzz around “Hubs.” Everyone is promising to really drive engagement by taking a fragmented way of offering resources and allowing employers to plug mobile apps into one “hub” platform, eliminating a lack of awareness through removal of resources living in disparate locations. The “If you build it, they will come …” approach … if it were only that easy. We know that around 90 percent of mobile apps are abandoned within the first 90 days of their being downloaded, so it is not effective long term to simply place resources in a central location.

We know better. For example, Vitality has created Gateway: a focus on connecting members to the right resources at the right time (for them) by steering them to the right resources based on behavioral or clinical factors, promoting these resources through mobile and web, motivating them through incentives to participate, and seamlessly connecting them to these resources once they are ready to participate. In the end, the approach is about getting results from your investment. In this particular example, our approach has been widely successful with one client who integrated a weight management vendor and is seeing 5X the participation in the program.

So, when you are thinking about investing money on wellness, it is important to consider whether the potential partners you are talking with are rushing to the market with the hottest trend, or if what they are doing actually works.

Mike Quigg, MS, Director of Health Strategy, Vitality

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