Each week of the 2016 legislative session, Rep. Neal A. Collins took to the SC House floor not to convince his colleagues to agree with him on an issue or bill, but to cajole them into being healthier.
Collins’ entreaties were neither mean-spirited nor in vain, though, thanks to the “A Healthier State House” challenge, supported by the South Carolina Hospital Association’s Working Well initiative and FitBit’s corporate wellness tools. The campaign looked to change the culture of the State House by encouraging everyone from legislators and lobbyists to support staff to make better food choices and increase their physical activity. Each of the nearly 100 participants received a subsidized FitBit tracker and had their information anonymously aggregated using a custom program dashboard, a tool which allowed healthy competition between the various “teams” participating. The House was pitted against the Senate, with lobbyists and legislative staff also working as their own groups.
Each week of the legislative session, Collins asked for a “point of privilege” on the floor of the House to post real-time charts that tracked the teams’ successes, spurring people on and making health awareness a more regular element of the legislative work life. Participants could also challenge each other to stair climbing contests or daily step total competitions through their FitBit apps, combining both competition and personal accountability in a way that only a personal health tracker can.
And the campaign worked—with demonstrable improvements in steps taken, weight loss, and general workplace wellness—so well that FitBit now believes the South Carolina model is one others can learn from. Rep. Collins and Working Well Program Director Jen Wright have been invited to speak about their experience at the FitBit Captivate Summit 2016 in San Francisco. The three-day conference is designed to give population health experts and HR experts new approaches to corporate wellness program design, engagement, and return on investment.
Flush with the successful “A Healthier State House” campaign, SCHA now hopes to institute similar programs across its member hospitals.