As a nation, we have seen our lifespan increase steadily in recent years*, which means we can expect to live for longer. Yet the amount of that time spent in good health hasn’t kept up, which means that we are very likely to spend more time living with some form of illness, most likely towards the end of our lives.
Although many of us have grand plans for our retirement, whether that’s spending time with family, travelling the world, or taking up a new hobby, a lot of this is dependent on us being healthy. We know that ill health is not inevitable, and by understanding our health and the role of physical activity, we can all make decisions that will help us live longer and healthier lives.
The rise of fitness trackers
Over recent years, our understanding of the exercise we are doing and the impact it has on us has changed, with technology such as fitness trackers becoming an everyday purchase. This, paired with the increased sophistication of health tech, has meant that we are able to capture increasing amounts of accurate data such as heart-rate tracking, unlocking more opportunities for us to reward healthy behaviour.
The Vitality Healthy Living programme is grounded in the principles of behavioural economics, where we utilise goal setting, loss aversion and aspirational rewards to get members more active. By linking an incentive-driven programme to the technology capabilities offered by a smart watch, we can track the activity and heart rate of our members, from which they can earn Vitality activity points. This then unlocks access to a wide range of rewards, such as payments towards an Apple Watch, handcrafted drinks and cinema tickets.
Sharing data creates value
This programme relies on data and the sharing of it between our members and our technology platforms, which is stored securely in line with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws. We believe that this ‘value exchange’ is a strength of our shared-value model: members understand why we ask for their data, and what they will receive in return. Wearable tech plays a key part in this exchange and it’s fair to say that it has been transformational for both consumers and us as insurers, in the way that we do business by helping our members to live a heathier life.
In combining fitness trackers with a behavioural change programme, we found that we could bring about significant increases in activity levels, with data showing that the majority of those earning points towards their Vitality status use some form of wearable tech. A three-year study looking at the Apple Watch taken out within our incentive programme – Vitality Active Rewards – also found people were 34 per cent more active, which is the equivalent of an extra 4.8 days’ physical activity a month. We estimate that this translates into two extra years of life**.
Undertaking research and looking more closely at the data that we gather enables us to continue providing value for our members, ensuring that we deliver against our core purpose of making people healthier and enhancing and protecting their lives.