CIGNA Uses Social Networks to Teach Health and Supply Clean Drinking Water.

drinking-waterI recently had the chance to catch up with Karen Kocher, Chief Learning Officer at CIGNA, and asked her about how the large health plan was using social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter to engage their members to become healthier.

“CIGNA has been doing quite a bit,” Kocher said, “to educate people to manage their own health.” She noted that CIGNA has made use of social networking websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace to help get people to be more aware of their own health and to convey a CIGNA brand image that is more consumer-focused and personal.

“CIGNA has evolved into a health service company, and an important part of our service mission is to help people better understand and manage their health,” Kocher said.

To help accomplish this overall communications strategy, Kocher said, that CIGNA has used several social networking sites to draw visitors to a web-based game that allows winners to provide a full-day’s supply of clean drinking water to a child in a developing country. To win, one only needs to answer correctly three questions related to health and/or health insurance terminology.

When I played the game, I found that I could answer most of the questions easily enough on the first try, though I did miss a few. But, what’s more interesting, is that I felt myself compelled to keep playing the game a racking up more and more days of clean water for the children.

It seems that others have felt the same way. Kocher said that the program began in September 2008, and has exceeded expectations by over 400%. To date, 56,756 days of water have been donated meaning that people have answered correctly over 150,000 questions. Also significant is that 85% of the traffic came from Facebook and other online referrals.

“Phase I of our program, Kocher said,” was intended to engage people in a fun and meaningful activity that allowed them to learn more about health. Phase II, which will launch in 2009, will be designed to build on that knowledge and bring in the wealth component.”

By the “wealth component,” Kocher is referring to an effort to help educate people about the cost of healthcare and to begin to engage them in learning to make better decisions about how they spend their health care dollars.

In the meantime, I am headed back to the Water Challenge game to see if I might be able to add a few days more to the supply of clean drinking water. Who knows, I might even learn something while I am there. Join me at: www.itstimetofeelbetter.com.