Looking for a way to engage and positively impact the health of a plan member's entire household, a video game program launched by HumanaVitality aims to appeal to all ages. Players of Xbox-based "Your Shape: Fitness Evolved 2012" can participate in three workout programs that target high blood pressure, childhood obesity and increasing mobility and agility for seniors.

According to predictions from information technology research and advisory company Gartner Group, by 2014, more than 70% of global 2,000 organizations will have at least one "gamified" application.

In the six-plus months that the program has been active, HumanaVitality has sold approximately half a million copies, according to Shankar Ram, vice president of Innovation for Humana.

Fully insured employer groups that use Humana for their health insurance plan are automatically signed up for HumanaVitality as part of their benefit design. Self-funded employers can purchase it as an add-on. "So as you get your health care benefits you also have this comprehensive wellness program that allows the entire family to start to really change the picture of their life, or to maintain a healthy and wellness-based lifestyle," says Joe Woods, CEO of HumanaVitality.

Workouts are logged and tracked in the gaming system and data is automatically transferred to Humana Fit, an interactive web platform. Through the fitness games, players earn points for improving their health that can be redeemed for a range of items, such as electronics and hotel stays, according to Ram. Burning at least 200 calories while playing the game - the equivalent of a 30-60 minute workout - earns players 15 Vitality Points per day. "Through this program, we are offering a total health solution that combines gaming, rewards and self-tracking by creating a motivating, personalized experience," says Woods.

While the reward component is always available, HumanaVitality is experimenting with several other ways to use accumulated points, including a pilot program underway for small group businesses that reward employers with a premium reduction on their health insurance the following year if any individual on their health plan achieves a certain status level.

Status levels - blue, bronze, silver, gold and platinum - are determined by the number of points a participant has amassed, according to Woods. Similarly, a contribution manager tool allows employers to vary employee contributions to their health care premiums based on their acquired status.

"What we have seen in the pilots that we have done at Humana is that if it can make associates healthy and engaged that results in honest productivity," says Ram, "and obviously it reduces absenteeism."

The gamification of wellness is an exciting development, says Woods. But he's quick to point out that it's not just child's play. "Let's be clear," he adds. "At HumanaVitality we don't consider it a game. We consider it a comprehensive wellness solution."

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