home email us! sindicaci;ón

Healthy Communities and Health Communities

by Scott MacStravic

Healthy Communities

The idea of healthy communities has been around for decades, with a number of successful and not-so-successful examples of new communities planned for their healthy impact on residents still in existence. Celebration City, Florida is one of the classic examples, with close involvement by the Florida Hospital system from the outset, along with the Disney Corporation, and many ideas implemented to protect and improve residents’ health, including walking paths and nature trails, fitness centers and golf.

Another form of “healthy community” is the residential health vacation, which may last from a few days to a week or as long as a month. These are offered as ways for people to get a running start on health improvement, or a refresher for those who have been on a health quest for some time. The Duke Integrative Medical Center in Durham, NC offers a number of such community options. The Greenbrier Clinic in West Virginia offers a shorter version of such a community, with a one-day clinic assessment and consultation built into vacation stays or weekends.

The Miraval Resort in Tucson, Arizona offers similar vacations in a number of four-day stays. Canyon Ranch, with locations in Lenox, Massachusetts and Tucson offers three-to-seven day health vacations in a luxury resort setting, with prices in the range of $1000 per day. Executive Resorts of Denver offers multiple health-focused vacation locations all under an annual membership fee for the wealthy.

Perhaps the most thorough example of healthy community residential facilities are being created through Canyon Ranch Residences, in Miami Beach, FL, and Tucson, AZ, with others opening in Maryland and Massachusetts. These are intended to be true “healthy communities”, with all the facilities and staff available onsite to enable residents to continue their personal health improvement and protection efforts on a daily basis. The entire community is designed to facilitate and promote healthier lives, and includes tele-monitoring arrangements for tracking progress by Ranch staff.

Health Communities

Health communities are a more recent development, and involve “virtual communities” of people who share an interest in coping with specific health challenges, such as managing chronic diseases, controlling risk conditions, reversing risk behaviors, or generally improving wellness and fitness. These communities are often part of Health Management (HM) programs, aimed at populations who share the same employer or insurer, as well as challenge.

The idea behind these communities is that people at various stages of their HM quests can learn a lot from each other, including ideas on how to overcome barriers they have found, and confidence in overcoming them when they learn many others have. These communities do not depend on people being in the same place, as is the case with healthy communities, though they can include the equivalent of local “buddies” who provide support via face contact.

Revolution Health, Steve Case’s movement to reform healthcare includes a wide range of health communities via “Premium Memberships costing $129 per year that include advice on healthy living, selecting providers, managing health expenses, for example, as well as a personal online health record. Vetted information on ten different healthy living topics, as well as a comprehensive range of chronic conditions, along with medications are available to members. Special 6-week programs are also available for living better, longer, and becoming smoke-free.

Marketing Healthy and Health Communities

Both kinds of communities require marketing efforts to reach, attract and retain prospects. Healthy communities require a greater effort because of the high cost and high-involvement decision involved. Health communities generally cost little or nothing, but still must be advertised to create awareness of and interest in their existence. The health experiences of both kinds of communities need the same kind of attention to “customer experience management” as any other product or service being marketed, with an emphasis on the long-term health and life quality outcomes possible and being achieved through community participation.

Both kinds of communities can gain a great deal of market impact through social networking, viral and buzz marketing, in addition to more traditional seller-controlled communications. Marketing the communities, as well as marketing the healthier behaviors each community promotes will be a long-term process, and focused on the outcomes that members have achieved and can achieve in the future, in addition to the enjoyment of participation experiences.

In most cases, healthy communities are for the affluent to rich among us, while health communities are accessible to almost everyone. Even when they are not sponsored by employers, insurers or governments, their use of online communications enables them to operate at low cost, and charges to consumers for participation tend to be modest. This may be part of the bifurcation of our health system, into one for the affluent/wealthy, such as “concierge” medicine and “VIP” suites in hospitals, executive health, etc. and the other for the vast majority who cannot afford them. But at least there are a growing range of opportunities for people to get help in managing their own health.


  Katherine Capps wrote @ July 2nd, 2007 at 6:50 pm

Looking forward to the science behind the data


Gregg Lehman, PhD, was previously CEO of Gordian Health Soltuions (you used his interivew: “Backing into the 80/20 rule”; he was also CEO of the National Business Coalition on Health. He is now committed to broadening the reach of HM and FM programs at the corporate site…..and offering the science behind the findings.

  Ed Croghan wrote @ July 17th, 2007 at 10:54 am

Great article!!!

Dr. Lehman,

I am also committed to broadening the reach of HM (and FM (?)) programs at the corporate site. Many studies during the past 10-15 years document the great value of worksite health promotion programs. More recently, scientific studies of worksite health management programs verify these findings.

I am interested in connecting with a national group to continue my career in wellness and health promotion. Any sugestions?

Thank you.

Ed Croghan
Founder & Principal
Corporate Health Associates, Inc.

Your comment

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>