The largest behavior change study on physical activity - based on verified data - shows Vitality incentives combined with Apple Watch lead to significant and sustained increases in activity levels
- The Discovery/Vitality study by RAND Europe demonstrates how incentives in the Vitality Shared-Value Insurance model combined with Apple Watch deliver dramatic and sustained improvements in physical activity levels.
- The study of more than 400k people found an average 34% increase in activity levels with Apple Watch compared to those without - 4.8 extra days of activity per month, which Vitality estimates translates into two extra years of life.
- The results offer unique insights into how to drive sustained behavior change in lifestyle areas that affect health and wellness, particularly with "at risk groups." This has enormous relevance for health policy and society at large.
CHICAGO and LONDON, Nov. 28, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Financial incentives in Vitality's Shared-Value Insurance model combined with Apple Watch led to a sustained 34% increase in people's physical activity levels, according to the results of a ground-breaking new health behavior study by RAND Europe, a leading independent research institute. The study examined the behavior of over 400,000 people in the United Kingdom, United States and South Africa.
"This landmark study contributes to a deeper understanding of how people can be incentivized to live fitter and healthier lives," said Discovery Chief Executive and Vitality Founder, Adrian Gore. "The significance for individuals, the insurance industry and wider society is profound."
Adrian revealed the findings to business and insurance leaders, academics, and policymakers from around the world at an event in London today, where the UK Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, spoke and the Nobel Prize-winning economist, and author of "Nudge," Richard Thaler, took part in a panel discussion.
"For more than 20 years, Vitality has taken a shared-value approach to health improvement by creating interventions that change people's behavior for the better," commented Adrian Gore. "Our innovative use of Apple Watch opens the way to a proper understanding of how people can be incentivized to live fitter and healthier lives – and how we are leading the way in transforming how people are insured."
The study examined the effect of Vitality Active Rewards with Apple Watch on participants' long-term physical activity levels. The program makes use of a comprehensive behavioral science toolkit, encompassing short and long-term incentives such as loss aversion and pre-commitment. Short-term incentives create a sense of immediacy, with members rewarded on a weekly basis for reaching their weekly goals. For a minimal upfront activation fee, members can reduce their monthly Apple Watch payments to zero by meeting their physical activity goals, including daily exercise and active calorie burn. The two components reinforce each other and create an ecosystem of behavior change.
Participants using Apple Watch saw an average 34% sustained increase in activity – 4.8 extra days of activity per month – across the United Kingdom, United States and South Africa.
Activity increased across the full spectrum of Vitality participants, regardless of health status, age or gender.
"At-risk" participants with a high Body Mass Index [BMI], although less likely to take up the benefit, showed greater improvements in activity than other groups, with increases in activity of 200% in the United States, 160% in the United Kingdom, and 109% in South Africa.
South Africa saw the largest increase in high-intensity activity days of 71%, followed by the United States at 52%, and 37% in the United Kingdom.
With these sustained increases in activity, Vitality estimates that within a year, participants with Active Rewards with Apple Watch achieved numerous health benefits, including improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol, and cardiorespiratory fitness along with lowered healthcare costs.
"Apple Watch has become an essential part of many people's lives, and these results are a tangible example of the way Apple Watch can help users take control of improving their health," said Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer. "Vitality and RAND's results are an exciting indicator of how much more can be achieved."
"Our research suggests that incentivizing physical activity can lead to better activity levels and the Vitality Active Rewards with Apple Watch benefit bears that finding out," said Hans Pung, president of RAND Europe. "Given RAND Europe's fact-driven, evidenced-based research and analysis, we are pleased that our work has helped to deepen understanding of what works in designing health and wellness programs."
Pung continued, "The rigorous study encompassed large sample sizes over long periods and captured people's activity levels before and after the introduction of incentives linked to Apple Watch, while controlling for population characteristics. It has major implications for health policy around the world."
"The RAND research proves small, everyday steps to improve overall health and wellness can be achieved when a life insurance company helps them in their journey by offering an interactive, wearable technology component," said Brooks Tingle, president and CEO, John Hancock Insurance. "This year, we announced all John Hancock policies will come with Vitality, providing wellness benefits to all our customers, and the compelling findings within this study support that decision."
About Vitality Vitality is a leading behavior change platform which uses the power of incentives, data and behavioral economics to make people healthier and enhance and protect their lives. Vitality has achieved global scale through successful partnerships with leading insurers and the most forward-thinking employers around the world. More than 8 million people in 19 countries engage in the Vitality program. The Vitality Group is responsible for the global expansion of the Vitality Shared-Value Insurance model using the capabilities of Discovery and its network. Vitality was founded 20 years ago by Discovery Limited – a leading financial services company listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. For more information, please visit www.vitalitygroup.com.
 RAND Europe 2018, Financial incentives and physical activity, Evidence from the Vitality's Apple Watch benefit