Cigna recently released the results from a March 2014 controlled trial designed to study the impact health coaching and activity tracking can have on health. According to the randomized control trial of patients who were pre-diabetic and morbidly obese, 86% of people who received health coaching and tracked their health with a device were motivated to be active. The study also found that 80% of participants said they were more willing to manage their health at the end of the trial than they were at the beginning. Additionally, 60% of participants who were using an activity tracking device continued to receive coaching after two coaching calls.
The six-month long study included 600 participants and used activity trackers made by BodyMedia. One group received BodyMedia activity trackers as well as health coaching, and the other group just received the coaching. The group that had the BodyMedia devices wore them, on average, for 18 hours per day. On average this group also walked 3 miles per day, burned 2,500 calories per day, and performed moderate activity for 49 minutes per day. These participants were involved in the pilot for between 18 to 20 weeks on average.
This data highlights the impact activity trackers can have on increasing motivation, physical activity, and overall well-being. This impact is driving a boom in activity trackers being purchased by consumers and employers across the world. The best part is that activity trackers are constantly improving, and the devices from 2014, including the one used in the study, pale in comparison to the latest trackers being released in the market. As activity trackers continue to improve, more consumers and employers will benefit from greater adherence and outcomes.
Cigna also released a three-year study that analyzed data from more than 200,000 members. The study found that, as a result of offering incentive programs, biometric screening rates increased from 20% to 55% in 2014. Unlike the study on activity trackers, this study brings sad news to the public. Biometric screenings continue to be the most criticized wellness program in the market. Despite their lack of efficacy and privacy concerns, employers still continue to pay employees to have them completed. Seeing more employers offer this service is a reminder that the road to healthier workplaces isn't a straight one.