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Health Insurer Humana Gamifies Fitness

Words by 3p Contributor
Leadership & Transparency

This article is part of our coverage of Net Impact 2012. To follow along, visit this page.

By Erica Schlaikjer

For some companies, "corporate social responsibility" is an after-thought or marketing tool; for others, it's core to their business.

Humana, a Fortune 100 healthcare company, recently got serious about its commitments and formalized a CSR program in 2009, as we learned at the Net Impact Conference in Baltimore.

Humana started as a nursing home company. Now, the company markets and administers health insurance services in all 50 U.S. states and Puerto Rico.

Humana has been socially responsible for decades, establishing an ethics program in the mid-'90s, encouraging employees (or "associates") to volunteer in their communities, and contributing hundreds of millions of dollars to charitable causes through the Humana Foundation.

This year, it made headlines for becoming the first U.S. health insurer to follow Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines for sustainability reporting.

One of the primary ways it encourages customers to stay healthy is through the design of play—leveraging behavioral economics, mobile technology, gamification and social media.

Here are a few examples:

Video Games: Humana partnered with video game developer Ubisoft to develop Humana-branded fitness content for "Your Shape®: Fitness Evolved 2012,"  a workout program available on Xbox Kinect that offers players more than 90 hours of fitness activities, including cardio boxing, jumprope and yoga.

Online Games: FamScape is a online game that encourages more physical activity by families. There is also the Humana Horsepower Challenge, in which students are given pedometers to keep track of their steps. Teams of school systems compete against each other, and kids who are most physically active earn rewards to accessorize their horse avatars. Students in the program did six times as much physical activity than before the program started.

Toys: The company created a prototype of "Grand 2 Grand," wirelessly connected teddy bears that are designed to let grandparents and grandkids communicate with each other. When one person hugs a bear, the other lights up and vibrates.

Community: Earlier this year, Humana and the Humana Foundation announced a three-year partnership with KaBOOM!  to build more than 50 multi-generational playgrounds in communities across the country.

Bicycles: Humana, Trek Bicycle Corporation and Crispin Porter + Bogusky created the B-cycle bikesharing system, which measures the distance traveled on each ride and helps bikers keeps track of calories burned and carbon emissions avoided. Members can review their health and transport information on a personal B-cycle web page.

Mobile Apps: Humana offers a couple of health-focused iPhone apps. GoldWalker is an adventure and strategy game where players have to move around in the real world to travel through the virtual world of towns and mining camps to accomplish tasks and find gold. Colorfall allows players to exercise their body and their brain in a color-matching game, resembling Tetris. Players must move around the physical world to take photos of different colored items to complete the game.

Interactive: The Humana Well-Being Tour stops off at state fairs and other community gatherings to offer live in-person gameplay. Guests can play the "Your Shape" game on Xbox Kinect, get a biometric screening, take a spin on a stationary bike, and receive a free pedometer through the WalkIt Program.

Golf: Humana signed on as title sponsor of an annual PGA tournament, formerly the Bob Hope Desert Classic, to promote well-being. The Humana Challenge tracks the steps of spectators through its HumanaWalkit program. The event formed as the result of an eight-year partnership between Humana and the William J. Clinton Foundation. This year, it raised more than $2 million in donations to benefit 40 local charities.

The 2012 Humana Challenge was named "Sports Event of the Year" By SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily, beating out other sporting dynamos like the 2011 NBA Finals and Super Bowl XLVI. During the event the company also supports other healthy activities with ancillary events like a 5-mile walk and a farmer's market. Jim Turner, director of corporate communications, says it's "well-being, with a side of golf."

In other words, health, with a side of play.

To learn more about Humana's three pillars of "healthy people, healthy planet, and health performance," you can download its "Well-Being Starts With Us" report.

Erica Schlaikjer, based in Washington, D.C., is the founder of Benevolent Media, a media and events company dedicated to celebrating storytelling and design for good. You can follow Erica and ask her questions on Twitter: @eschlaik and @benevolentmedia.

Image courtesy Humana.

3p Contributor

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