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FitBit Stories from HRD

A new breed of high-tech fitness trackers that measure everything from overall movement, steps and even sleep patterns are likely to be showing up on your friends and relatives this year. Whether meant to be worn on your waist, dropped in your pocket or strapped to your wrist, these gadgets work in concert with smartphone apps and websites to help you set goals, then motivate you to achieve them.
Gone are the oversized clumsy; often goofy looking trackers replaced today by devices that are fashionable and versatile.
One of the overall favorite trackers of 2014 is the Fitbit. This is a double positive because not only can you track information and become your own personal quantified self, but you can also connect your Fitbit device to Healthy Incentives’ StayWell Time Out for Health.
–It’s super easy! You can learn how that works here in our video tutorial. King County Employees can now get a discount on their FitBit.  Learn the details here!

I had the opportunity to talk to three people in HRD who are currently using a Fitbit for their Healthy Incentives Individual Action Plan.FitBit in Action


AnnMarie Aidoo-Admin Staff Assistant

“Overwhelming positive experience” says Annmarie when we sat down to chat. “I put on my pants, a shirt and my Fitbit. It’s just part of getting dressed in the morning”.

It’s such a bonus for Healthy Incentives, a seamless marriage and a no brainer for me to just synch – everything logs – I don’t have to do anything extra, it just happens automatically. “

She also told me about some of the fun features Fitbit offers. “They incent you really well. I was having an inspiring day; I had 17,000 steps my reward popped up. They were smiley faces, a movie of inspiration and a badge.
“It’s easy, fun, and you can compete with yourself; you don’t ever not want to do it. I will take a walk; take the stairs, anything to get more steps!”  Speaking about the cost of the Fitbit, AnnMarie admits she was hesitant to take the plunge to spending the money. She said “I just would not have believed the value. It is totally worth the cost – but I just would not have known that before I had one.” (Lucky for AnnMarie, she won her Fitbit in a contest).

AnnMarie’s advice for others considering getting their own Fitbit: “I encourage anybody who struggles to get exercise into your schedule to get one. It’s easier to walk 10,000 steps than you think”.

Karleen Sakumoto- Manager - Employee Health and Wellbeing
Karleen’s kids gave her a Fitbit Force for Christmas. She loves her Fitbit because “you don’t have to do anything special – just wear it”.
Karleen set a goal to get 7.5 hours of sleep per night in the goal setting class earlier this year. “It’s a goal I have had for a long time, but I hadn’t attacked my goal.” Karleen is now not only attacking her goal, but succeeding!IMG_1114

“I have to be up in my bedroom by 9:30 period and that means that the kitchen is clean and
the dog is walked”.  And the Fitbit helps. “My record is my Fitbit. I set the start (of sleep) and the end when the alarm goes off and it’s time to get up. It’s all there, and then it just uploads into my computer and the app on my phone where I can see my sleep record.” It is making a difference and Karleen is meeting her goal of getting 7.5 hours of sleep. Something she didn’t think was possible.

And as an added bonus, Karleen is also using her Fitbit for her Healthy Incentives. “For my individual action plan – I go into my Time out for Health account and there are all of my steps! It’s super easy and every step is recorded”.

Want to set up your FitBit?  Learn how here

Greg Felton–Admin III – HRD
Greg has a brand new Fitbit The Zip .
He is wearing it every day, and he loves “quantifying my work day”. Greg told me he was curious to know just how many steps he takes in a day going back and forth to and from the printer.IMG_1115

Greg went on to explain the fun features that come with the Fitbit: “Once you get into it you
can set a target and you get an email plus a badge. You can compete (with friends).”

He is using the Fitbit for his Healthy Incentives Individual Action Plan. He can see his
activities on his phone through the Fitbit app. “It’s a simple way to do Healthy Incentives.
It’s logging and registering your activity for you – that’s great”.

I asked Greg what has changed for him since getting his Fitbit earlier this month. Greg replied: “I am walking more. I took the stairs to the DES meeting while everyone else was waiting at the elevator”.

Nancy Buonanno Grennan – HRD Division Director
“I started with my Fitbit obsession in April of 2013. At that time my goal was 10,000 steps. My stride is under a 5 mile = 10,000 steps, so I do more to get in my 5 miles”. She told me in our recent sit down.  “Now I am up to 13,000 steps per day and I am obsessive to make that goal.” I asked Nancy what the craziest thing she has done (to date) to reach her goal:

“I will get off the bus two or three stops early and walk to my car….even in the pouring rain and cold. And a couple of times I have been out in the front of the house with the dog walking up and down the driveway; just to reach my goal.  This is my own little thing. It’s the best pedometer…I use it for my healthy incentives and what’s so cool is that it’s seamless. It’s the easiest way to get credit for what I am already doing”.


After makeover update from AFIS!

We are finally finished with our makeover, yayy! We purchased the following items:

-          SkyFactory LED simulated window – with 4 photos

-          Two air purifiers

-          A “Happy Light”

We are very happy with our new “window!” We think it has really improved the atmosphere in our area and everyone who walks by loves it! The first photo we had up was a snow scene; it had awesome detail and looked very realistic. We now have up a beach scene. Lots of people have commented about it making them wish they were in the photo because it looks so real.


Thanks for following our makeover and thank you to Healthy Incentives for helping us make it happen!


Early Returns Favorable

two_thumbs_up_400_clr_11665 (1)

We’re in our second round of testing the new StayWell website and online individual action plan. Early impressions are favorable.

As I’ve talked about before, this year we’re involving lots of testers who are not a part of our team. We’ve got bus drivers, bus mechanics, office workers, older people, younger people, people who love the program and people who would be happy not to have to participate.

What we’re hearing back is favorable overall. People are saying that the flow is much easier than WebMD. They also really like that you don’t have to enter activity the week you do it, but you can go back in time. This was big for us. With WebMD we initially put the “gating” in to pace people over six weeks. Consistent with evidence on behavior change, we believed the pacing would help people successfully establishing a habit. The feedback we got was that it felt too controlling. Participants said loud and clear they could be trusted to do the activity, and they wanted to be able to enter it when it was convenient for them. So, it’s good to hear the positive reaction to being able to enter activity anytime.

The biggest issue we’re having comes when someone selects an individual action plan. Right now, it shows you immediately that you have selected the IAP, but it doesn’t take you to where you register for the IAP. This is a major kink. If people aren’t taken to this page, the flow of the experience is interrupted and the frustration barometer goes up.

StayWell is working on the fix and we know this will be a major factor in whether or not we can deliver the GREAT experience we promised.

Program Start Delayed

black_street_sign_text_10940Program Start Delayed

We made the hard decision to delay the launch of Healthy Incentives to February 14. We’ll also extend the end of the program to July 31 to give people time to finish. The crux of the decision was really about the best customer experience — do we launch a fully baked program late, or do we start on time and roll in the different components as they are ready?

The situation

We found ourselves facing this decision when the online individual action plans we previewed from StayWell caused a lot of concern for our staff. So, StayWell went back to the drawing board and developed an online individual action plan that does everything we want it to do. The issue was that this product won’t be available until early February.

Thus our dilemma.

The decision

Data about how customers engage with the program helped inform our decision.

How many people would be affected by the delayed start on the online program?

What we saw was that even though online individual action plan enrollments have been declining since we began offering more choices, it is still the top choice for most people. So, if we started January 1, the vast majority of people preferring the online plan would not be able to get started right away.

Programs that might be adversely affected by a delayed start were Diabetes Prevention Program, Living Well With Chronic Conditions and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. These classes were already scheduled, people were signed up and moving them would be really difficult. These programs affect a little more than 200 people. Thing is – these 200 people get a lot of value from the program they do so making a move that would cause people to drop out or become frustrated was not a good move.

The other programs would not be adversely affected by a delayed start. Weight Watchers and Quit for Life programs will include participants who start in January, and there’s enough time for anyone who waits until mid-February to also complete these programs.  This is about 400 people. Text for Wellbeing, the paper individual action plan and the Parks Fitness Challenge served 7,700 people last year.

Individual Action Plan

Approximate 2013 Participation

% of Participating Population

WebMD Online IAP



Text for Wellbeing



WebMD Paper IAP



King County Parks Fitness Challenge



Weight Watchers



King County Live Well Challenge



Quit for Life Tobacco Cessation



Diabetes Prevention Program



Diabetes Control Program



Living Well with Chronic Conditions



So, the bottom line was that:

  • 6,000 people would be adversely affected by an on time start because they would take the wellness assessment and have no online individual action plan to enroll in.
  • 8,100 people could go either way because their programs were ready.
  • LA little more than 200 people would be adversely affected by a delayed start.

Can we maintain a good experience for the 200+ people, while delivering a fully integrated program for the rest?

Our answer to this question was to operate the diabetes and stress programs as they are currently scheduled. Most of the recruitment has been happening through targeted communication and events so we could more easily let people know the start of their program will not be affected by the new Feb. 14 start date.

What does our gut say?

No question it’s a hard thing to admit you’re not ready. We are all worried this will affect people’s perceptions of the program, but the risks of launching on time and not ready seemed greater. We want this experience to be better than the other two vendor changes we’ve made.

The Obama health care website enrollment debacle hovered in the background of our decision. When things don’t work right, it is such a disservice to customers. And it can be a major barrier to a very noble goal.

This year we want reinvigorate people’s commitment to health and the online experience is a key part of that.

It is the end of the year – a time for gatherings and celebrations.

While we may be looking forward to celebrating, it is easy to feel lost in the busyness of holiday activities-planning, shopping, cooking, MBSRsocializing, running around town– that we forget to be present. If we act mindlessly, holidays can create more stress than relaxation.

Here are three tips to guide you through a calm and energizing holiday:
1. Pause, and take a breath.
Bring more moments of stillness into your life. This can mean pausing and taking a deep breath when you are most exhausted or stressed out. Recommit to sustaining your daily mindfulness practice during these hectic weeks.
2. Be gentle with yourself.
Remember, “Under stress we regress.” So if you see yourself acting like a teenager when spending time with family, take a breath, relax, and know whatever is happening now will likely change. Forgive yourself to the best of your ability.
3. Give the gift of presence.
Sometimes the greatest gift you can give another person is your undivided presence. Practice listening wholeheartedly – without interrupting – to a loved one.
And instead of buying a present that he/she may not need, give the gift of an experience that you can enjoy together.

Starting in January, King County Healthy Incentives is hosting Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Classes as individual action plans. Schedules and the outline of the course are posted here.

May we consciously bring presence and kindness to family, friends, and those who we care deeply about.

Way Cool!

You FitBit wearers will love this. For the first time, we will be able to integrate a fitness device with a Healthy Incentives individual action plan. There are a lot of neat devices out there and we’ve wanted to move into this space for a while. The StayWell integration is so easy that basically all you have to do is wear your FitBit


Last week we started demo testing a StayWell individual action plan, Step It Up!, where you track the steps you take every day for credit. The way cool option we’ve never had before is integrating your FitBit with the Step It Up! individual action plan. All I had to do was press a FitBit icon, provide my FitBit login information and presto! Everything is integrated. Two days later I checked my progress on Step it Up! and the steps my FitBit had measured each of the past two days were there – I had not done a thing with my fingers to enter those steps.

This will be great for the people with FitBits. I am not sure how many of those there are. I know a few. But FitBits are not exactly accessible to everyone. I have a model that measures my sleep, too, and it was around $100. It was given to me for Mother’s Day last year. The least you can spend on one is around $50 which is actually not that cheap, if you ask me.

Mine uploads wirelessly to the FitBit website. So, all I have to do is walk in the general vicinity of my home computer and ZAP! My data gets automatically transmitted to the FitBit website. From there, StayWell’s Step It Up! can pick up the data and reflect it in their individual action plan.

Easy Peasy!

AFIS Healthy Worksite Makeover – the BEFORE!

Hey all! We were so excited when we found out our worksite was one of the few chosen for a makeover! As you can (sort of) see from the below photos, we need it! 

Work Area 2

Some of the main issues negatively affecting us are: a lack of windows, harsh lighting, recirculated air and interacting with angry and/or violent individuals. Some of the items we have brainstormed having installed to combat those issues are:

-          SkyFactory LED photos

-          White noise machine

-          Air purifier

-          Natural light, light bulbs

-          Relaxation station

-          Chalkboard/fun wall

Work Area 1

Obviously, we aren’t able to change the attitudes of people we encounter; but we feel that the inclusion of one or more of the items above will work wonders for our stress levels.

We will update you along the way as our worksite makeover progresses.

Stay tuned!

Andrea & Beth

AFIS section of King County Corrections






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