Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Quizzify doesn't hurt!

Al Lewis and Vik Khanna have been at the forefront of debunking useless, intrusive, demeaning, and coercive wellness programs that have been codified into law by the Affordable Care Act and that have become the favorite of corporate human resources folks who have to justify higher insurance premiums to their employees and of insurance companies looking for new profit lines.  In this article, for example, they noted:

Now, more than four years into the ACA, we conclude that these programs increase, rather than decrease employer spending on health care with no net health benefit. The programs also cause overutilization of screening and check-ups in generally healthy working age adult populations, put undue stress on employees, and incentivize unhealthy forms of weight-loss.

Not content to merely throw stones, the pair and some friends have started a venture called Quizzify, an on-line service for employers that "teaches your employees to make smarter, better healthcare decisions."  The founders believe that people can learn from playing an engaging and humorous set of quizzes that comprise a bunch of questions about nutrition, life style issues, surgical procedures, and medical care in general.

And they do so in a very unintrusive way:

Al says in a note to me (and now to you!): You can go to app.quizzify.com and where it says "your employer" scroll to "guest."   This is the "Launch Quiz," the non-employer-customized generic version.  Try it out.

I did.  (Don't be put off by this sample.  It is a bit long, with 25 questions.  The ones being offered commercially are more targeted.)

I intentionally answered some questions incorrectly to see what would pop up.  Here's one example in the nutrition category:

And here's one I got right in that category, about one of the world's favorite energy bars:

I could show you more, but it will be more fun if you try it out yourself.  I think you will be surprised with some of the answers.

If I were in the corporate world, I'd seriously consider offering this service to my employees.  The messages learned are much more likely to have a beneficial effect on people's health and on their use of the health care system than a lot of the more invasive programs being forced on employees.

(Note: I have no financial relationship with this venture. And when I play Boggle and Taboo with Al, no money changes hands.)


Anonymous said...

My employer has added a wellness program. I'm not sure if its the same category as the Safeway ones that you refer to, but what it does is give funds to a health-care account for completing programs run by an outside wellness company about healthy eating, meditation, stress, etc. You can get $100 or so in real money (spendable only on health care) for doing these, up to a capped amount. So the cost to the company is this money plus whatever the 3rd party charges to run it.

If the research shows these to be effective, I can't imagine how. People joke about going "click, click, click" until they've completed as much of a program as they are allowed that day, then coming back a day or two later for more.

stacey said...

I use one at work and the company asked me for feedback. This is what I sent them:

There were some general things I don’t like about the program, i.e. that it is geared towards the lowest common denominator, and so forth. For instance, when I ran 5 miles in 50 minutes, at a 10min/mile pace, I got more points for having >45 min of active minutes, but when I actually ran it faster, say, 8min/mile pace which gave me a 40 min time, I only got >30 min activity, and fewer points, despite performing a much harder task. Nothing like being punished for being successful (see socialism in the dictionary)

Plus there are fewer steps required to cover a given distance if you are running harder/faster.

It’s very socialist in nature and those of us that exceed the standards on our own, that were already exercising, i.e. running marathons, triathlons, get no additional credit or points for being in much better shape than the slugs that just spin their pedometers while sitting at their desks. If you are not a fat, diabetic, smoking, pregnant woman, you do not have the same opportunities to earn points.

Those of us that lift weights and do things that do not have “steps” but require greater physical acumen are greatly disadvantaged. Sadly, most government programs place a higher priority over “aerobic” activity rather than strength training. This “cardio = fitness” mentality is about is about 30 years behind the times of what we know regarding human physiology. Plenty of healthy hearts beating in a broken bodies in nursing homes is your evidence. Of course, anything driven by government is … well you know…

It can also be annoying to be reminded constantly to get my mammogram. I am a breast cancer survivor and have had a double mastectomy. No mammograms for me. How insensitive of you!
The propaganda-like invasive, Big Brother-esque nature of the program I find disturbing as it is leading to more and greater “monitoring” of our activities all the time. Why I need to be told to recycle, or be a good "citizen" as part of a "fitness" program sounds disturbingly more about brainwashing subjects into a perfectly behaved and controlled members of society, rather than anything to improve our fitness. I suppose that is the general trend in society, but I still use the old pedometer as I don’t think that anything other than how many steps I take, is any of your, or Virgin’s business. How much I sleep, my heart rate and any other vital signs I consider Private Health Information and this program has no business monitoring that. It is for that reason I will never use a Fit Bit or any other monitoring device merely for the motivation of a few extra bucks. When the time comes that my pedometer no longer works, due to requirements, or software upgrades which will make monitoring devices the only means available to participate in the program (I’m sure it’s coming) I will abandon it entirely.

The entire program is childish and silly. Another “social media” forum for people to get imaginary medals or stupid stuff while you surreptitiously insert little “healthy” reminders(propaganda/brainwashing) that may or may not be considered current health information.

Honestly, I wish folks would stop using fitbits entirely. All they are doing is beta testing for the day the insurance companies and government will require their use.

I’m sure there are better ways to promote corporate fitness that are not insulting to the intelligence of adults. As a personal trainer and health coach, I’d be happy to give you a few ideas.

Paul Levy said...

Wow, where was this?

Al Lewis said...


If you're still seeing this, your comment became a morality tale for all of wellness:


By the way, I don't know that the Stacey Gordon on FB who is a triathlete is you, but whether or not it is, the point remains the same