Vitality today reveals the results of research quantifying the widening gap between lifespan (life expectancy) and healthspan (the number of years lived in good health) globally, reflecting a diminishing quality of life in later years. Alongside this research, Vitality and RAND Europe have developed a pioneering algorithm that will allow individuals, for the first time, to understand how their lifestyle choices impact both their length and quality of life, enabling them to take actions that will maximize the number of years they spend in good health in the future.
The research and algorithm will be launched on October 12 at Vitality’s global conference with keynote speakers Professor Yuval Noah Harari and Discovery / Global Vitality CEO, Adrian Gore, to debate solutions for improving the future health of individuals and populations.
“Incentivizing positive lifestyle changes in a world forever changed by the global pandemic can have a profound impact on the health of individuals and reduce the burden on health services,” said Adrian Gore, Discovery/Global Vitality Chief Executive. “Our global network of leading insurers has a unique opportunity to monetize and incentivize better future health and given global trends, and I believe we have a responsibility to act. Over the last 30 years, scientific change has driven increases in lifespan. Improving healthspan globally will require a greater focus on behavior change – with benefits for individuals, the economy and society.”
The research highlights an average 15% increase since 1990 in the number of years that people will spend in ill health over their lifetimes, from 8.5 years to 9.8 years, which equates to approximately 18% of the average lifespan1. This outcome follows health strategies that prioritize treatment over prevention and technologies that enable people to live longer with disease. Currently, the world spends $8.5 trillion or 10% of GDP on healthcare delivery with only 5% going towards prevention. Reducing the disease burden by just 10% through more preventive policies and behavior change could prevent up to 93 million healthy years of life being lost globally each year.
“The disconnect we experience between our current and future selves leads to suboptimal decision-making in areas of finance and health,” said Professor Hal Hershfield, UCLA Anderson School of Management Professor of Marketing and Behavioral Decision Making. “This emotional divide between selves led us to explore a new question: What are people most interested in knowing about their futures? – since these insights can serve as a useful stepping-stone towards making healthier lifestyle choices. Knowing what information people value on this journey to wellbeing is an important factor in bridging the gulf between a person’s current and future self, and potentially towards maximizing health over time.”
The new algorithm, developed by Vitality in collaboration with RAND Europe, will provide individuals with a personalized view of their lifespan and healthspan, as well as bespoke recommendations for improving these measures, delivered in a way that best resonates with them. This world-first public calculator of individual healthspan – the Vitality Healthy Futures calculator – will be available on the Vitality International website from today (October 11, 2021) for a limited time.
“At John Hancock, we believe life insurers can and should help drive better health outcomes for our customers. Today’s research findings underscore that important mission and the impact that small, everyday steps toward wellness can have on our quality of life,” said Brooks Tingle, President and CEO, John Hancock Insurance. “The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of baseline wellbeing, and it made so many of us more aware of our physical and financial health. In collaboration with Vitality, we have sought to help our customers live longer, healthier lives at every turn. It is my hope that with increased understanding of insights like those shared today, others will join us in answering this urgent call.”
Vitality is the world’s largest behavior-change platform founded by leading insurer, Discovery Group Limited. Discovery was founded in 1992 as a disruptive health insurer and has developed a disciplined shared-value business model in the form of Vitality, which rewards clients for improving their health, driving and financial behavior. Vitality uses the power of incentives, data, and behavioral economics to make people healthier and enhance and protect their lives. It has expanded this model into life insurance, short-term insurance, investments and most recently, banking. Today Discovery services more than 20 million clients across the world with partnerships with leading global insurers in Europe, the United States, Canada, Asia-Pacific, China, and Japan.
About the Vitality Healthy Futures Calculator
Vitality has collaborated with Professor Hal Hershfield, an expert in the fields of marketing, behavioral decision-making, and psychology, as well as his team of academics at UCLA, to inform the world-leading risk assessment tool, Healthy Futures. For the first time, users will receive personalized results and recommendations that will be of most interest to them, providing a platform for a new era of positive behavior change. Accompanying the tool’s novel recommender system, Healthy Futures benefits from a comprehensive technical update to the previous Vitality Age tool, now leveraging the largest source of risk-disease outcomes data in the world. This database, the Global Burden of Disease, used under license from IHME, comprises of 264 causes of death, 328 diseases and injuries and 84 behavioral, environmental, and occupational, and metabolic risks or clusters of risks. In addition, the data has been further augmented with Discovery data comprising millions of life-years to allow for a new and clinically accurate set of questions. Users will now be required to input new health measures relating to their cardiorespiratory fitness, medication adherence, salt intake, sleep, and pre-diagnosed conditions. With a key focus on physical activity, Healthy Futures uses new actuarial modeling to project future changes in metabolic risks over the user’s lifetime. The result is a risk assessment tool which provides individuals with an array of tailored, scientifically formulated future life and health metrics:
The number of years a user has left to live (“lifespan”)
The number of years a user has left to life in good health (“healthspan”)
The three most likely diseases that are likely to affect the user in future
The next best actions the user can adopt today to improve their healthspan and lifespan
About RAND Europe