Personalized wellness programs help millennials reach their goals

Published October 5, 2020

Why focus on millennial health?

Millennials spend more than $158B a year on wellness, not medical care, according to market research firm Ypulse. That says a lot about their dedication to improving health and well-being. But some may not be achieving their goals or preventing the onset or progression of chronic diseases. Research from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association shows that millennials’ health begins to decline around age 27, and that they are less healthy than Gen Xers were at the same age.

Data show a new approach is working

Blue Shield of California’s Wellvolution is a digital and bricks-and-mortar based platform that matches participants with evidence-based, individualized programs that help prevent or reverse chronic conditions. It was designed to account for today’s consumer preferences, including millennials’ preferences for “always on,” personalized solutions. And there’s new data to show that, after just a year up and running, it’s working:

  • Millennial participation in programming grew from 18% to 38% of all enrolled.
  • 60% of all enrolled chose weight management programs, and 31% of those lost approximately 5% of their body weight, a clinically significant outcome.
  • More than 40% of members in programs designed to treat and reverse type 2 diabetes have made progress.
  • In programs designed to reduce the risk of developing a chronic disease, members have averaged a 5% weight loss within the first month. Seventy-five percent have lowered their blood sugar.

How it works

On the Wellvolution website, Blue Shield of California members identify their health goals, like losing weight, eating healthier or managing stress—all of which can either prevent chronic conditions like heart disease or type 2 diabetes, or in some cases, reverse them. Wellvolution matches a member’s goals with personalized program recommendations, provided by carefully vetted third party providers.

“Millennials are catalysts,” says Alexandra Frith, marketing strategy principal at Blue Shield of California, “a generation pushing us to transform the industry, now."

Appealing to millennials

"Millennials are catalysts,” says Alexandra Frith, marketing strategy principal at Blue Shield of California. “a generation pushing us to transform the industry, now." By that, Frith says, she means that millennials aren’t necessarily interested in traditional prevention programs. But their risk of developing more serious health problems as they age is serious enough, says Frith, that the health plan knew it had to come up with a way to engage this generation on their terms, in a radically different way from other programs. Wellvolution combines attributes important to millennials, such as a focus on wellness, apps accessible any time, interactive programs and personalized coaching. Blue Shield of California also leverages social media influencers and non-traditional media outlets to get the word out.

Results bring healthcare cost savings

Wellvolution programs are free to members. And Blue Shield of California has flipped the model in how it pays for those programs. Providers are paid for performance, not by fee for service, which gives them an incentive to retain and support participants. The health plan projects that the benefits of reversing some of the chronic conditions or preventing them will include not only better physical and mental health for members, but real numbers: saving on healthcare costs.

Blue Shield of California is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent, locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies.