Gamification, the application of games or game-like elements to traditionally non-game systems, is no stranger to the financial services industry, including consumer banking. But in health insurance, gamified elements are significantly less prominent, explaining why BCBS of Minnesota’s adoption of the Castlight Health platform as its member site in March 2023 (Health Plan Monitor subscription required) was revolutionary. While a gamified health insurance experience is rare, it holds a strong potential to engage members, improve healthcare outcomes and reduce costs.

A screenshot from the BCBS Minnesota member site homepage
BCBS of Minnesota Member Site Homepage

Looking beyond health insurance, healthcare navigators—like Castlight Health, Rally Health and Virgin Pulse—showcase several examples of gamification. These navigators are centralized platforms for patients to manage their health, benefits and wellbeing. Mostly employer-based, they can help members set and reach their health goals, find the right care for them, and find support in peers and communities. Where does the gamification come in? Members can earn points for completing various health-related activities and then convert those points to monetary value. Our life insurance researchers have noted the existence of similar programs for life insurance customers. Let’s walk through the ways several notable healthcare navigators incorporate gamification.

Points correspond to every action members take

With Rally Health, coins are accumulated by partaking in individual missions or group challenges. These include items like bringing your lunch to work rather than eating out, remembering to stand up once an hour and not drinking caffeine late in the day. At Castlight Health, members can earn points by doing the following:

  • Reading educational health-related articles or watching videos
  • Enrolling in eligible health programs to manage conditions like diabetes or hypertension
  • Downloading related mobile apps such as that of their health insurer or creating accounts with related third-party sites
  • Completing health assessments or sleep checkups

The Castlight Health platform conveniently shows members whether an activity is one-time or yearly, in addition to the number of points they can earn for completing each one. Over at Virgin Pulse, members can earn points not only by completing health-related activities and challenges, but also by attending one-on-one health coaching sessions and tracking their daily activities like steps and nutritional intake.

A screenshot showing Rally Health's member site missions page
Rally Health Member Site Missions Page

Members are constantly reminded of their points balance

These gamified navigators constantly display the member’s point balance on the site, reminding them of the ability to earn points and rewards. For example, Virgin Pulse’s site header features a progress bar showing members how many points they currently have and how far away they are from getting the next reward. A dropdown menu informatively shows the time frame to earn a certain number of points, the number of days left and the monetary value of the next reward. The Rally Health platform also utilizes the site header, showing the member’s accumulated coin balance underneath the member’s name. With Castlight Health, the member’s rewards balance appears at the top of the homepage, easily catching the member’s attention upon logging in.

A screenshot showing the Virgin Pulse Member site page header
Virgin Pulse Member Site Header

Rewards are available in several forms

Gift cards are a common form of rewards for these navigators, with members being able to convert their points to a gift card of various values, such as $30 or $50. The gift cards are for common nationwide companies like Adidas, Amazon, Nike or Whole Foods. Another popular reward is the ability to convert points into monetary donations for organizations like the Special Olympics or the National Park Foundation. Rally Health goes a step further and, in addition to offering gift cards and donations, includes the chance to enter sweepstakes and gain discounts on health products like Garmin devices or Withings watches.

A screenshot showing the Virgin Pulse how to earn page
Virgin Pulse How to Earn Page

What’s next?

Healthcare navigators will become more prominent as Americans grow more interested and more invested in their health, especially with the convenience of it being an online platform—and most navigators have mobile apps that allow for on-the-go access. As of this summer, Virgin Pulse partnered up with Headspace, a digital mental health company, to offer organizations using its platform integrated access to Headspace’s services. Quantum Health also announced a partnership with Kindbody to roll out family planning and fertility-focused benefits to those with access to Quantum Health. These partnerships suggest future room for growth and potential in this space. And, most recently, Mass General Brigham Health Plan just added the ability to enroll in Virgin Pulse via a prominent homepage tile.

For more insights into digital innovation in the healthcare space, check out our research services in four areas: Health Plan, Medicare, Health System and Pharmacy. Or take a look at our Healthcare Briefings for deep dives on specific topics. And don’t forget to check out our Insights section for more industry trends and best practices in the healthcare space.

Stephanie Chan

Stephanie Chan is an Analyst on CI's healthcare team.