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Discovery Vitality ambassadors. Picture: SUPPLIED/DISOCVERY VITALITY
Discovery Vitality ambassadors. Picture: SUPPLIED/DISOCVERY VITALITY

What if there was a way to make people live longer, healthier, happier lives and reward them for taking steps towards their own good health? 

Discovery Vitality is the answer. 

Founded 25 years ago in SA, five years after Adrian Gore founded Discovery, Discovery Vitality is now making 20-million people healthier in 37 countries across the globe. 

Last week the rewards programme released The Science of Vitality journal, which details the insights behind the innovative behaviour change platform.

“When Discovery Vitality launched in 1997, SA was at a turning point in its history, faced with a high and complex disease burden, too few doctors, and community-rated insurance,” says Discovery CEO Adrian Gore. 

“Discovery recognised the need to intervene on the demand for health care by prioritising prevention. By incentivising Discovery Health Medical Scheme members to engage in healthier behaviours, such as going to the gym and making healthier food choices, they would stay healthier and essentially live longer. That is vitality,”

A way of life for today and the future

Dinesh Govender, CEO of Discovery Vitality SA, says: “Vitality is a behaviour-change programme that finds its apex in technology — backed by an enormous amount of data and science. With this in mind, The Science of Vitality journal was collated to show simply and clearly how the Discovery Vitality programme manifests in tangible change for the better. The journal explains this evidence-based approach which encourages and rewards members for good health, driving and spending behaviour.”

Govender says while Vitality has always been effective — with robust longitudinal data proving how many people experience a better quality of life and live longer directly linked to their engagement in the programme — the programme continued to show its relevance and impact during Covid-19.

Discovery Vitality responded to mass uncertainty with solutions that served members, and empowered them to continue to take care of their health, and get rewarded for it. 


Some of the most recent research in the journal includes a research paper produced by Vitality and Wits Sport & Health published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, highlighting how resilient people who exercise regularly are in the face of a pandemic, or any eventuality, and creating an opportunity for leaders to reconsider lockdown policies when considering the best way to save lives. 

“I am astounded by the impact of the programme on healthy behaviour. Whether it’s in helping members develop and sustain protective health behaviours, to financial wellbeing and more, Discovery Vitality is life-changing for those who engage with it,” says Govender. 

A model for all businesses 

Globally, there has been a fundamental shift in business. Companies are expected to align their goals with societal benefits and to put purpose, rather than profit, at the centre of their business model. This has always been the basis of the Discovery Vitality model.  

“The insurance industry has a unique role in building more resilient communities. Apart from the government, insurance is the only entity that can tangibly monetise improved health outcomes,” says Gore.

“However, most insurance models fail to account for the change in insurance risk from pre-existing conditions to human behaviour. In contrast, the Discovery Vitality Shared-value Insurance model focuses on behavioural components that decrease risk, offers clients a range of personal pathways to help reduce their personal risks, and rewards them in the process.

“This creates a virtuous cycle, as people engage in Discovery Vitality and improve their behaviours, the business benefits and society thrives. This is the model scaled around the world and the reason Vitality is in 37 markets, reaching more than 20-million lives.”


An evolution of the ecosystem

Govender says that Vitality is meant to positively influence every aspect of life for those who engage with the programme. “Today, Discovery Vitality has evolved into three programmes: Vitality Health, Vitality Drive and Vitality Money, with hundreds of partners who help in rewarding members. The journal explains how this model works — for you, for society and for us as a purpose-led, shared-value business.” 

“Discovery Vitality’s aim is to protect members and the broader SA population, as well as people in other markets that Vitality is involved in. Therefore, consolidated independent and internal research validates the programme’s positive impact. The Science of Vitality journal explains the ‘why’ and ‘how’ Vitality makes people healthier,” says Govender.

Read The Science of Vitality journal.

This article was paid for by Discovery SA


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