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Thrive Summit Day 2 – Inspiration, Insights, and Innovation

After an amazing first day, we began Thrive Day Two’s mainstage program with a morning meditation that brought the calm. Virgin Pulse coaches introduced square breathing: In for 4, hold for 4, out for 4, hold for 4.  

Akshay Kapur and Anna Pione, McKinsey & Company partners, then began the flow of insights by sharing an overview of global challenges and how they are impacting the healthcare sector, including providers, payers, employers, and consumers. They offered five things that would transform healthcare benefits: 

  • Reimagine medical networks to make them more high performing
  • Better manage specialty drug expenses
  • Increase use of value-based care of risk sharing models: “this will be the year of adopting value based care in the employer market” 
  • Adopt high ROI care management programs  
  • Consider value-based insurance plans 

McKinsey reports available for download from Virgin Pulse: Click here to access “The gathering storm: The threat to employee healthcare benefits” and “Still feeling good: The US wellness market continues to boom 

Next, Matt Hay captivated the audience with his powerful story of his journey toward deafness as a result of a rare disease, highlighting his need to capture the sounds that were slipping away, including his girlfriend’s laugh and his favorite songs. There was not a dry eye in the house as Matt described how he felt as his disease progressed. He asked, “If you were going to lose your hearing in your mid-20s, what is the last sound you would want to hear? What songs do you want stuck in your head for the rest of your life?”  

Despite a series of truly serious physical challenges, Matt persevered, not letting tough diagnoses define or stop him. He told the audience, “If any of you have been in that well and you don’t know how to get out, you’re not alone. I’ve been there, other people have been there, they’ve found their way out. There’s always a way out.” He shared that his inspiration was accomplishing “small wins,” noting that it’s good to have long term goals but we shouldn’t forget about the small wins along the way. This is an excellent reminder of what Virgin Pulse is all about: small steps toward healthy habits and goals. 

What does Virgin Pulse have in common with Mario Party? We found out when several Virgin Pulse leaders took to the stage. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jeff Jacques, EVP and GM for Health Plans and Systems Salem Shunnarah, Chief Commercial Officer Laura Walmsley, and Chief Product Officer Jeff Yoshimura discussed product development since Thrive Summit 2022 and what’s coming up to support employers, health plans and health systems – and their people. The group highlighted the value of VP Navigate, VP Activate, coaching and advocacy – including how important it is to begin thinking of coaching as part of an extended care team – and support for mental health and chronic conditions. In-development items include integration with Microsoft Teams, as well as a Mario Party-type global challenge that emphasizes holistic wellbeing. Jeff Yoshimura commented, “Everything we do is meant to make healthcare and benefits easier and less complicated for our clients and their people and improve outcomes.” 

Next, Rebel Girls CEO Jes Wolfe and Room to Read CEO Dr. Geetha Murali inspired us with a discussion about helping children find a spark that will motivate them to build confidence and imagine what is possible. The common thread that can be applied to adults in the workplace? Help the individual and the collective find the “why.” Understand why are you doing what you are doing and what impact it makes on the company, the team, and you as an individual. That spark can become a fire. 

After lunch, Kal Penn brought the funny in a fireside chat about his upbringing, quest to become an actor, and time at the White House that mixed hilarious storytelling with keen observations about society and media trends. He described the racism he faced in Hollywood while trying to break into acting, swimming upstream as an Asian-American, deciding whether to take on stereotypical roles and why this career path was difficult as a child of immigrant parents. His recommendation for companies working to address DEI commitments? Don’t be performative. Instead, “When you diversify your talent pool, you immediately make yourself more competitive.” 

Kal was with the White House when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed, and his team worked on highlighting stories of people that couldn’t afford healthcare and would be helped by the ACA. He observed that the consensus among young people was that it should be the government’s job to lower the cost of healthcare over time. They understood that they would have to pay a lot over the first ten years for insurance they probably won’t need until later. He noted, “It’s always a mistake to underestimate someone.”  

Finally, we wrapped up today’s mainstage programming to celebrate this year’s Thrive Award winners! The Thrive Awards recognize exceptional organizations who make innovative health and wellbeing programs a priority, enabling employees, members, and patients to create lasting, healthy changes. (Stay tuned for more details coming soon about these outstanding companies.)   

Breakout Track Highlights 

  • BASF believes that “High performing companies start with healthy and happy people.” By connecting their health and wellbeing strategy to their corporate culture, they are able to achieve meaningful outcomes through Virgin Pulse and its partners. 
  • TIAA, a Thrive Award winner, overviewed their Virgin Pulse program and how they achieved outstanding results. “We don’t look at ROI, we look at this as a must-do for our employees, regardless of the return.”  
  • Accenture shared a step-by-step approach about how to get leadership buy-in for a health and wellbeing program, even when met with no’s. Key areas to address: Organizational goals, urgency, leadership priorities, value proposition, proof of concept, and make the leader the hero. 
  • Humana, another Thrive Award winner, discussed keys to make its mail-order medication program a success. Virgin Pulse plays an important role in personalized and effective communication to members. 

What to Expect on Day Three 

On our final day of Thrive, HGTV stars Austin Coleman and Raisa Kuddus, will share some practical advice for enhancing our workspaces with an eye toward productivity; academic Jessica Halem will help us better understand how to improve health equity and intentional inclusion; and Virgin Pulse CEO Chris Michalak will wrap-up Thrive Summit 2023 by sharing an influential leadership framework that enables both you and your organization to grow forward.