Press release -
Discovery Health and SAMA open Vitality Active Rewards to public sector doctors
The South African Medical Association (SAMA) has partnered with Discovery Health to offer Discovery’s globally recognised wellness incentive programme, Vitality Active Rewards, to health practitioners in the public sector. “There is strong evidence that healthier doctors have healthier patients,” says Dr Maurice Goodman, Chief Medical Officer at Discovery Health. “Since 2017, Discovery has provided doctors in the private sector who care for members of our client medical schemes with access to Vitality Active Rewards tailored for doctors. The Vitality Active Rewards programme is designed to encourage people to increase their activity levels and to improve their health by rewarding them for achieving weekly personalised activity goals. Having seen a 15% increase in physical activity amongst doctors using the platform to date, we are excited to partner with SAMA to invite public sector practitioners to use the platform, at no cost to them,” Dr Goodman says.
SAMA Chairperson, Dr Angelique Coetzee says getting doctors to be more physically active and encouraging better nutrition is a key step in building a better healthcare system. “The point is to enable doctors themselves to become and stay healthy, especially in South Africa where we face a critical shortage of doctors, coupled with an ageing doctor population,” she says.
“A growing body of clinical evidence has shown that the more aware doctors are of their own health and fitness status, the more empowered they are to influence the lifestyle choices and health of their patients,” says Dr Goodman. He adds that creating healthy lifestyles is key to the prevention of chronic diseases. “Physical activity is recognised as a trigger for other healthy behaviours, which is why it is essential to incentivise physical activity in the short and long-term,” Dr Goodman says.
Dr Noluthando Nematswerani, Head of the Clinical Policy Unit for Discovery Health says doctors in the public sector can make use of the programme to help address the burden of chronic diseases on society. “Data from our research shows an increase in activity levels amongst patients who have visited doctors who have activated and engaged in Vitality Active Rewards. In fact, we have seen patients increase their proportion of high intensity workouts by 11% in the six months following their visit to the doctor.”
“It is encouraging to see that doctors who have completed a Vitality Health Check themselves have a larger proportion of patients who complete the basic health checks for blood pressure, blood glucose, cholesterol, weight assessment and smoker status in the six months following the visit to their doctor,” she added.
To date, Vitality Active Rewards have achieved very high levels of take-up and engagement, across a broad range of private sector doctors. “The programme has grown to include over a third of all doctors in private practice in South Africa,” says Dr Goodman. Importantly, the programme has significantly increased activity levels amongst doctors. Doctors on the programme exercise, on average, 15% more frequently after activating Vitality Active Rewards, with a 12% increase in the proportion of high intensity workout sessions.”
Dr Goodman says the greatest impact is seen among doctors who themselves live with a chronic condition. “These doctors stand to gain the most health benefits from increasing their physical activity levels and engaging in other healthy lifestyle behaviours. Doctors with a significant or complex chronic condition, on average, increased their exercise frequency by 17%.”
“Discovery cares about our country’s doctors and recognises the important role that they play in the shared value healthcare system. A key step in building a better healthcare system and showing our appreciation for these dedicated professionals, is to enable doctors themselves to become and stay healthy,” says Dr Goodman.
“In the long-term, this will enable doctors to realise significant healthcare improvements for themselves, and for their patients,” Dr Goodman concludes.
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Reputation Management Consultant at Discovery GuguY@Discovery.co.za
Discovery Limited is a South African-founded financial services organisation that operates in the healthcare, life assurance, short-term insurance, savings and investment and wellness markets. Since inception, Discovery has been guided by a clear core purpose – to make people healthier and to enhance and protect their lives. This has manifested in its globally recognised Vitality Shared-Value insurance model, exported to over 19 countries and reaching over 11 million members. Discovery trades on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange, with a market cap of $7 billion.
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