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People across the US and around the globe are facing many issues and challenges every day that affect their health and wellbeing. From struggling with healthcare complexity, being confused by their choices, and feeling lost in a sea of healthcare information, it’s no wonder they also fail to form healthy habits. 

According to the World Health Organization, there’s $1 trillion (about $7,570 per full-time employed worker in the US) worth of lost productivity due to worker anxiety and depression. And the next generation of employees will face an even more difficult challenge in behavioral health.  

Healthcare costs continue to be a critical concern for employees, employers, health plans, and health systems, most people, 87%, do not actively engage in their health. They are not involved in preventative care, not actively managing their chronic condition, or simply are not taking care of themselves. With one out of every two people saying that they don’t understand healthcare, these are significant challenges to overcome to help people lead healthy, happy lives. 

At Thrive Summit 2023, people who care about solving these issues have come together to learn from each other and celebrate a decade of advancing the most critical health and wellbeing topics. 

Virgin Pulse CEO Chris Michalak officially opened our 10th-anniversary Thrive Summit by discussing being inspired and motivated by the possibilities that impact people, changing someone’s life. He pondered, “If we can change one person’s life, imagine what else we can do.” A Zoom call featuring Virgin Pulse users painted a picture of the capabilities Virgin Pulse has developed and deployed to serve members wherever they are in their health and wellbeing journey, changing their lives for good. It also featured surprise guest Sir Richard Branson congratulating everyone on ten years of Thrive! 

Chris wrapped up by talking about the importance of being intentional. He commented, “Spending time with people that help you be better is really important.” And went on to say that he hopes Thrive attendees “will leave with one thing they will do that will make a difference in their environment, something that makes them more effective for the people they serve.” 

Following Chris’ talk, attendees heard from health economist and trend weaver Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, who shared her thoughts about the impact of social determinants of health (SDOH) factors over the past decade and how that will impact the coming decade. ZIP codes, Wi-Fi, and love have more in common than you think. 

  • Yesterday – We learned that our zip code is at least as important as our genetic code and that life expectancy can be impacted based on various socio-economic factors such as job/job security, family, clean water, lifestyle behaviors, activity, exercise, nutritious food, and access to healthcare. 
  • Today – Wi-Fi is now an SDOH. During the pandemic, we needed to connect on many levels – school, work, faith, exercise, family, and health. Unfortunately, broadband and connectivity are not distributed equally distributed in the US. “Techquity,” the morphing of technology and equity, is vital to keep in mind when designing health and wellbeing programs. 
  • Tomorrow – Love is all you need. Loneliness, similar to cigarettes, negatively impacts people’s health and wellbeing, and was a toxic side effect of the pandemic. What’s the solution? Trust is the killer app. And the most trusted institution on planet earth is “my employer.” (Edelman Trust Barometer)

To illustrate her points, Jane built an SDOH playlist to help us better understand drivers:

  1. Small town, The Cougar
  2. Connection, OneRepublic
  3. All You Need is Love, The Beatles
  4. Power of Love, Huey Lewis

The main stage wrapped up with a session about the importance of resiliency featuring Dr. Christopher Willard of Harvard Medical School, Aimee Gindin with our Diamond sponsor LifeSpeak Inc., and Alicia Ridout from Lamar Advertising. The pandemic took a toll on people’s mental health, which ripples in the workplace.

Our panelists noted how important it is to encourage managers to be “more human” with employees and ask them what they need. They also explored that the sandwich generation is more like the panini generation today due to being pressed and burned at both ends, highlighting the tremendous need for caregiving support. Amy noted, “You can’t address wellbeing without addressing family.” 

Breakout Track Highlights:

  • Allstate shared how its Virgin Pulse partnership has grown, starting modestly and adding more integrated components and sophisticated campaigns. “We like to customize things, and Virgin Pulse supports our ability to do this!” 
  • Colorado Access discussed how it uses Virgin Pulse to reach its goal of driving members to community-based programs. They deployed IVR and interactive text messaging programs to reach prenatal and postpartum targets who would benefit from a maternal health program. 
  • DTE Energy presented its use of Virgin Pulse Culture Check to understand its health and wellbeing culture across a dispersed employee base, identify gaps, then create projects to mitigate them. Lesson learned: “Identify metrics that align your organization and inspire action.” 
  • Our inaugural Thrive Award winners returned to offer more info about what makes their programs best-in-class! Toyota shared their “secret sauce”: Address employees’ families – the entire family influences an employee’s productivity. 
  • UC Health shared impressive engagement metrics: Virgin Pulse members are 69% more engaged at work and 68% more productive, and they saw a 14% lower turnover for VP members overall. 
  • Evernorth shared that behavioral health is at the core of total health and that helping people get care can improve outcomes and the cost of total care.  

What to Expect on Day Two:

Today’s agenda features a jam-packed, full-day lineup of trends, actionable insights, and some stories to bring the feels. These include Kal Penn discussing challenges he faced in his quest to become an actor and thoughts about our healthcare system; Matt Hay’s inspiring story of perseverance; insights from McKinsey about benefits landscape transformation amid today’s challenging trends and Virgin Pulse leaders sharing more about how we can support you and your populations more holistically today and tomorrow, plus we will announce our 2023 Thrive Award winners! 

Big thank you to our Thrive Summit Sponsors! We kicked off the Exhibit Hall with all of our awesome sponsors. From yoga classes and hikes, to break out session presentations and intros, our sponsors brought their A-game to help Power Up the Thrive experience for our attendees.