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CIGNA creating virtual health community

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CIGNA, a leading health service company, has announced the development of a virtual health care community. This computer-simulated world is situated on a Second Life island, where seminars, interactive displays, educational games and virtual health consultations help foster real and sustainable behaviour change that improves health. Developed by Method, a brand experience agency, CIGNA’s virtual community provides 3D video game-like interactivity that enables people to learn and interact anonymously with like-minded peers in order to positively change the way they live their lives. For example, the newly-developed nutrition zone helps participants develop their nutrition knowledge, learn how to make healthier food choices, manage their weight and understand portion sizes and food labels – skills that will enable them to lead healthier, more energetic and productive lives. Stress, physical activity and sleep zones within the community will be developed following an uation of people’s experience with the nutrition zone. “As a health service company, we are always looking for new and creative ways to reach people with important messages about living a healthy and productive life,” said Keith Dixon, PhD, president of CIGNA’s health solutions unit. “With a social interactivity that extends beyond geographic boundaries, and an exciting and appealing visual experience, CIGNA’s virtual community enables us to reach an entirely new group of people that might not respond to health education messages delivered through more traditional channels.” Upon entering the virtual health care community, visitors are welcomed by an avatar, which greets and leads them to the virtual seminar. Participants are able to communicate with each other by using text chat or voice through a headset and microphone. To make the presentation come alive and increase audience involvement, the presenter uses a number of 3D props and graphics. For example, real-time voting about the fat content of particular food items encourages audience participation. “Using Second Life as a platform for the pilot, we created CIGNA’s virtual world from the ground up, taking into account every detail of the potential user experience, examining how people best learn and retain health messages,” said Claus Nehmzow, General Manager of Method. “Up until now, virtual worlds have been pegged as a niche phenomenon, but the work Method is doing with CIGNA illustrates how virtual worlds can be properly integrated with multiple channels and communication media to educate users and increase results on existing programs. This is the next big frontier.”

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