This summer, health improvement company Healthways plans to launch premium software that will help employees take many daily steps toward a healthier lifestyle.

The program, which uses an Internet platform, will be based on their popular Daily Challenge competition that features daily suggestions to users. To date as free software, the program has had over 100,000 users who have completed 1 million daily challenges, such as drinking water instead of sugary drinks.

It was started with a bunch of market research to come from the consumer prospective, according to Chris Cartter, general manager of MeYou Health, the Boston-based company which runs the program. MeYou Health is a wholly owned subsidiary of Franklin, Tenn.-based Healthways.

Daily Challenge is based on behavior change and a series of specific actions done over and over to become repeatable patterns in an employee’s life. It also includes a social support aspect, “which is really fundamental,” Cartter says. “We ask people to create a small circle of personal connection … They agree to support each other. [There’s] a strong correlation between the number of social connections and success rates.”

He says that there are three basic steps to making a lifelong change. The first is “dot,” which is something you do one time, like flossing. Next comes “span,” which you repeat more often, and then “path,” which is baked into your daily routine.

But it’s figuring out “how we move somebody from dot to path behavior,” he said in a May 18 webcast, “The Connected Consumer: Driving engagement in health and well-being,” produced by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s AgeLab.

“[We’re] trying to encourage connecting people together with those they care about,” he adds in a separate phone interview. “You can compare your progress to your friends’ progress, really lightweight competitive environment … We emphasize the support aspect of each other.”

The new premium features will put together daily challenges based on topics, so users could select a nutrition or stress reduction track, for example. They will be available for individual purchase or by employee sponsorship, which will be easy to reach, Cartter says, thanks to Healthways inroads.

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