Kurt’s 10th Anniversary Blog

Kurt Cegielski

Kurt Cegielski

It’s hard to believe that a decade has passed since RedBrick Health was founded, with a singular vision: To help people be healthy.

Here, RedBrick founder Kurt Cegielski shares how the company got started, and the innovations, teamwork and unwavering focus that have brought the company into its tenth year.


First of all, congratulations on ten successful years. Tell us about how everything got started.

RedBrick Health was founded by a group of early Consumer-Driven Health Plan pioneers, which means we’ve been consumer-driven since the start. It was the early days of consumer-driven healthcare, and we were intent on helping consumers be more efficient shoppers with their healthcare spending. But over time we realized that there was a greater and more important need: to help people be healthy in the first place. And no one was doing a good job effectively addressing that.

So the idea behind RedBrick was to help people be healthy their entire lives. This mission was a continuation of the consumer-centric work we’d already started in prior companies, but with a broader and more profound impact, and a focus on the special role of the employer-employee relationship. And because most of us had already spent time in smaller companies, we understood how a small group of committed people working together can drive important changes.



The industry has changed a lot in the past ten years; what are the biggest shifts you’ve seen, and how has RedBrick evolved to meet them?

Yes, it has. Back then, “wellness,” though not a new idea, was fairly uninspiring at the consumer experience level. And it was often disconnected from the larger discussion around the transformation of benefits. Now, the value of wellness/well-being as a more strategic element within employee benefits is better established, and we have far better tools to make programs successful. It has been very exciting to be part of that evolution, and to have pioneered innovations that have helped so many consumers in their health journeys.

And although many things have changed in the past ten years, I think the one thing that has been constant is the consumer focus. Consumers want choice, they want ease and convenience, and—most of all—they want results. So everything we’ve developed—and continue to develop—is based on creating efficient and effective consumer experiences. For example, recent research we conducted has helped us pinpoint exactly what works in our clients’ best-performing programs, and we use that insight to create better experiences across our entire business.

That includes things like bringing everything together into one integrated platform, so that consumers have one place for all their well-being resources. It includes seamlessly blending human and digital interactions, because—as important as phones and mobile tools are—sometimes you need to talk with a person, too. And it includes continually studying and researching what works for our consumers to provide the best practices, tools and interactions that actually drive meaningful results.

Our focus on consumer research also gives us a very unique and valuable capability—to monitor what is not working. And if we ever find something that can be better, we definitely aren’t afraid to completely reinvent it. One recent example: the old-fashioned coaching tools and techniques. They just aren’t relevant or effective for a modern consumer. So we blew them up and have a new, high-value model that again, drives meaningful results.

We have invested heavily in data and analytics, especially over the past two years. Our clients need meaningful insights to demonstrate the value of their well-being initiatives. As we’ve seen the shift from ROI to VOI, we’ve expanded our capabilities to provide detailed metrics and analysis so again, our clients can continually expand and optimize their programs.


Over the past ten years, what factors have had the biggest impact in contributing to the company’s growth and success?

I can say without hesitation that our people are the most important factor in our success. We have incredible teams, collaboration and a “do whatever it takes” commitment to our clients and our consumers.

As we discussed in the last question, we also have that core willingness and ability to grow and change and evolve. And as we’ve grown, we’ve maintained that flexibility and sensitivity to adapt to what our consumers and markets need.

Finally, I think one of the biggest factors—and this relates again to our strong people—is truly understanding what works. We understand behavior design and we understand user experience—deeply understand them. Our commitment to book-of-business research—and I’m talking millions of consumers—is uncommon in our industry. And we continually invest in it, so that when we say we know what works, we really do know what works.


So what’s ahead? What are the most exciting things on your radar?

I’m really excited about how the notion of well-being continues to evolve and expand to include so many other factors that help consumers on their journey, such as financial well-being, specialty solutions to address higher acuity needs, and all the ways we can help clients achieve a stronger culture of health. Broad consumer choice positively impacts employee engagement, and ultimately helps us to address our clients’ healthcare and productivity costs.

I’m excited about how we can continue to help our consumers by blending human and digital experiences in meaningful ways. I know that our ability to offer choice to our consumers without limiting them will continue to drive the results we all strive for.

And finally, just as when we started ten years ago, I’m excited about continuing to learn, grow, and build a successful company with fantastic people, teams and clients.

Because one size does not fit all: Data-driven incentive design

August 10th, 2016


Ksenia Arie

By Ksenia Arie, Product Manager, RedBrick Health

When it comes to incentive plan design, we all want the same thing: help individuals be healthier, happier and more productive. At RedBrick Health, we see program participation increase when the design is easy to follow for individuals using choice architecture and providing enough options that are relevant to their personal interests and goals. If individuals feel that they are being forced into one modality with no choice, they feel put off by the program and do not participate.

We have also found that in a choice model, various intervention modalities are similarly effective at producing clinically meaningful change. For example, our data show that consumers’ health metrics improve regardless of whether they use digital coaching, activity tracking or phone coaching.

Outcome-based rewards have been around for a long time; however, their popularity has risen significantly over the past several years as employers have begun shifting more financial accountability to consumers. After all, it seems intuitive: directly reward the health improvement you want to see in your population. But there may be an adverse effect: our research found that participation-based rewards worked equally well in producing biometric outcomes and we found evidence that outcome-based reward designs may depress participation, especially among those at elevated risk.

To avoid costly design mistakes, it is important to take a step back and make sure that your reward design is aligned with real evidence about what works, and that it doesn’t inadvertently create the wrong experience for your participants. Our What the Best Do Better approach provides emerging evidence-based advice on what combination of configurable features can help lead to your designed outcome.

Through data research and analysis, we increasingly know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to health and well-being program and reward design. We welcome learning from you too. What observations do you have on the relationship between reward design and program results?

Explore the value of your meaningful communications

Kristie Nelson-Neuhaus

Kristie Nelson-Neuhaus

By Kristie Nelson-Neuhaus, Marketing Communications Account Manager, RedBrick Health

Do you have a ‘set it and forget it’ communication approach with your audience? If so, you might be settling—unnecessarily—for a lower level of health engagement.

Communication practices are a key driver in engaging individuals with their health. In this post, we’re going to focus on three ways in which top-performing companies capture attention and sustain engagement through their communications—so let’s take a look at how each plays out.

Email. Why does email make such a difference to your engagement strategy? Our research found that people who are reachable by email show 92% more engagement. Individuals interact immediately with email messages, clicking through to complete an action, such as a health assessment or activity tracking.

When you’re designing your email communications, remember two simple tips:

  1. Create a compelling subject line. This may be the most important piece of the puzzle. Unless people see the value within the subject line, they won’t open the email.
  2. Make your call to action very clear and easy to find. Don’t muddy the water with several competing actions. Focus on your key point, point out the benefit of completing the action, and provide the direct link.


Communication cadence. Establishing a consistent cadence not only helps your audience understand the basics of your program, but also builds familiarity with your well-being brand through content, images and design.

Top performing companies communicate an average of 12 times per year. This may seem like a lot, especially in companies where employees feel like they’re flooded with messages. Three tips will help you navigate this issue.

  1. Send the right message at the right time. For example, begin the year with the fundamentals of your program and send targeted reminders each quarter. Give people plenty of lead-time to complete the core steps of your program.
  2. Be relevant. Messages that are personally relevant are perceived more favorably than scattershot messages. Always highlight the benefits of taking action.
  3. Incorporate print. Top performers use four times as many print campaigns, such as flyers and posters, postcards, and brochures.


And finally, mix it up. We recommend mixing the types of messages as well as the delivery methods to promote sustained engagement and support your well-being strategy.

  • Get started with awareness messages that introduce and explain your program.
  • Maintain momentum with reminders that specify key dates, rewards, and deadlines.
  • Drive attendance at events, such as onsite health screenings, with specific instructions and associated rewards.
  • Promote a culture of health through health topics, such as nutrition and physical activity.


In conclusion, take heart. You know your audience. You don’t have to do everything perfectly—use your strengths in one area to overcome weaknesses in others. Be authentic, be consistent, be clear. If you practice these principles, you will see results.

Differentiate your brand with a new approach to member well-being

Phil Hadden

Phil Hadden

By Phil Hadden, vice president of business development, RedBrick Health

Cost, access to providers and convenience are major drivers for employers and consumers when selecting a health plan. You might have these questions in mind:

  • How do I attract the right members?
  • How do I stand out from the crowd?
  • How can I get the edge on my competition?
  • Are my current well-being services meeting the needs of our brokers and employer groups?


If you are limiting your wellness efforts to just hosting wellness-related content on your site, you may want to re-think that strategy. Based on the Pew Internet Project’s research in 2014, 87% of U.S. adults use the internet and 72% of internet users say they they’ve looked online for health information in the past year. 77% of those online health seekers used search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo.[1] So there’s a good chance that your members are not logging into your site to find health-related information.

Consumers have the desire and the interest to improve their health and well-being. A Gallop poll in 2013 found that 36% of adults describe themselves as overweight and 51% of adults said they want to lose weight.[2] A report from Canalys (an independent analyst group that follows the tech industry) reported that in the first quarter of 2014 a total of 2.7 million activity tracking wearable devices were shipped worldwide.[3]

Providing a solution that supports your members in their journey to better health gives you the opportunity to take advantage of this heightened interest in personal health. Achieving meaningful health engagement requires a solution that incorporates proven principles of behavioral science, a highly personalized engagement experience and the triggers that can keep members engaged and help them adopt healthier habits. Each member’s path to better health will be different and so you’ll need to incorporate the power of choice to ensure they are committed to their goals. A flexible solution with options for web, mobile, device integration and onsite services is also key. Improve your well-being solution with personalized, easy to follow small steps to better health, fun to use tools, expert support, rewards and all the encouragement they need to reach their well-being goals.

Our data driven strategies are proven to help your plan achieve market-leading engagement. To truly make your solution stand out you’ll need a multi-modal communications campaign, research backed strategies and proven incentive designs. RedBrick Health can help you keep your members meaningfully engaged over time and achieve a successful culture of health.

Contact us to find out how we can help you deliver a compelling and truly differentiated approach to member well-being for your brand.


[1] Pew Research Center. Health Fact Sheet. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/health-fact-sheet/

[2] Brown, A. (November 29, 2013). American’s Desire to Shed Pounds Outweighs Effort. Retrieved from http://www.gallup.com/poll/166082/americans-desire-shed-pounds-outweighs-effort.aspx

[3] Canalys. Fitbit accounted for nearly half of global wearable band shipments in Q1 2014. Retrieved from http://www.canalys.com/newsroom/fitbit-accounted-nearly-half-global-wearable-band-shipments-q1-2014

Sometimes we need a little help along the way

Heidi McAllister

Heidi McAllister

By Heidi McAllister, Coaching Services Manager, RedBrick Health

We all know that investing in employee health is a way to manage healthcare costs, but many programs overlook important partners—spouses and other family members—who not only often have higher healthcare costs themselves and nearly always have a strong influence on the health behaviors of the participant. Our research shows that social support is not only a predictor of meaningful engagement, but also a catalyst for more meaningful engagement. We recommend including spouses and significant others as often as possible and focusing on the family unit for optimal behavior change.

Whether support comes from a family member, a co-worker or a health coach, leveraging the social sphere is smart. We’ve embedded social features in our products and services and it’s paying off with better health outcomes for participants. Our RedBrick Journeys® (digital coaching) include a myriad of topics that support behavior change through small steps and social connections. RedBrick Track® and RedBrick Rally®, our activity tracking and social challenges solutions, bring co-workers together for healthy competition. And RedBrick’s health and well-being coaching focuses on building relationships over time, meeting people where they are and helping them get to where they want to go. Our research has even found that our Next-Steps Consult, a concierge-style single session focusing on educating, motivating and engaging individuals, has increased and sustained meaningful engagement even without increasing the rewards for participation in activities.

Support sometimes comes from family and friends, and sometimes we need help from experts. In a world of high-tech, “high-touch”—in the form of human-to-human connection—cannot be overlooked, as it can be just the right thing to get started on the right path.

This post is part of the blog series of What the Best Do Better, our most recent study on health engagement. Stay tuned and you’ll gain knowledge on what top-performing organizations are doing differently through successful program design patterns.

You can view and download the What the Best Do Better eBook here.

You can also download our most recent infographic here.


What drives meaningful engagement? Choice, for one.

Eric Zimmerman

Eric Zimmerman

By Eric Zimmerman, Chief Marketing Officer, RedBrick Health

Commitment to any health improvement is amplified when that commitment happens through an active choice. The principle of “choice architecture” suggests that the combination of guidance and choice works best. In other words, when people have the power to choose how and when they want to engage—as well as the focus on that engagement—the result is stronger engagement and better results.

Data help, too. You can use data to offer consumers the most relevant options, emphasizing things that work for “people like me.” But it’s choice that seems to matter most.

In fact, among those with significant health risks—prediabetics, those with a BMI over 30, individuals with elevated cardiovascular risk factors—our research found that it didn’t matter how a person engaged, as long as they engaged. For example, some chose to work in a digital coaching format we call RedBrick Journeys®. Others worked with a “live person”—a well-being guide who offers coaching, guidance and support. Some chose to track their physical activity using a wearable device. All participants improved their health in clinically meaningful ways, at surprisingly comparable rates.

Sometimes we think we know what’s best for people. For example, the conventional wisdom says people with chronic conditions need to be enrolled in a disease management program. However, our data show that—given the choice—80% of those with a chronic condition choose to work on a “lifestyle” topic. And by letting them do so, we have engaged substantially more individuals than wellness companies that fail to offer choice.

As it turns out, choice matters. It intensifies commitment and engagement. And it works.

This post is part of the blog series of What the Best Do Better, our most recent study on health engagement. Stay tuned and you’ll gain knowledge on what top-performing organizations are doing differently through successful program design patterns.

Find our first post in the series What drives meaningful engagement? We set out to find out” here.

Finding Mindfulness and Resiliency for Care Teams

Andrew Mellin

Andrew Mellin

By Andrew Mellin, Vice President, Medical Director, RedBrick Health

Work stress, compassion fatigue, emotional exhaustion, moral distress and burnout. Is this what your care teams are experiencing?

Talking with my physician and nurse colleagues, I’m no longer surprised to hear them discuss the high levels of stress and ongoing challenges in their jobs and how they are looking for a change in their workplace to improve their overall well-being. Providing healthcare is extremely stressful. Studies have shown a number of causes of stress such as interpersonal relationships, the nature of nursing, the lack of autonomy, high patient volumes and simply the nature of providing care to patients and families.1, 2 It is clear that many individuals benefit from external support to learn techniques to cope with stress and develop mindfulness and resiliency.

Health systems are recognizing that the overall health of their organization and their ability to fulfill their mission of delivering the highest quality of patient care is directly tied to the health and well-being of their care team. I recently had the pleasure of hosting a webinar with Lauren Chestnut from The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Dan Buckalew from Main Line Health on how they each address stress in their respective health systems.

These organizations have adopted the following experiential and evidence-based best practices to deploy comprehensive stress-reduction programs:

  • Develop a multi-dimensional approach that provides choice to employees, including digital tools, coaching and environmental support.
  • Recognize that only programs and activities focused on reducing stress and increasing resiliency are likely to have a meaningful impact on overall stress levels.
  • Offer group activities for social support and individual programs to help people on their own time.
  • Enlist leadership support to model mindfulness and purposeful work.
  • Empower and encourage a culture in which individuals can bring their best selves to work.

An informal survey during the webinar revealed that most attendees from health systems across the country recognize stress as a key issue. However, they also expressed that they don’t yet have a comprehensive program in place.

If your organization also doesn’t have a comprehensive stress management and resiliency strategy in place, don’t wait to address this issue. Addressing stress at health systems is much more than employee engagement and well-being—it’s about patient safety and ongoing organizational success.

To learn more about how to address stress and increase resiliency in your organization, I encourage you to read the Caring for your Care Team: How to reduce stress and increase resiliency in your workforce paper and listen to our Caring for your Care Team webinar.



1Moustaka, Å., & Constantinidis, T. C. (2010). Sources and effects of Work-related stress in nursing. Health Science Journal, 4(4).

2Balch, C. M., & Shanafelt, T. (2011). Combating stress and burnout in surgical practice: a review. Thoracic surgery clinics, 21(3), 417-430

What drives meaningful engagement? We set out to find out.

Eric Zimmerman

Eric Zimmerman

By Eric Zimmerman, Chief Marketing Officer, RedBrick Health

As an industry, we’ve been obsessed for the past few years about the “E” word. But it’s not clear we all mean the same thing when we use the term engagement.

For advertising or e-commerce-based business models, it’s all about page views, clicks and mobile app taps. But what about population health, or employee well-being programs?

In my view, we’re really interested in meaningful health engagement—meaning the engagement that produces better health—and that’s not always so easy to measure.

Many health and well-being programs define success by what’s easiest to measurethings like website registration rates, online activity, mobile app downloads or coaching sessions. But do these program engagement metrics really have anything to do with ongoing health improvement rates?

We coined the term meaningful engagement to signify patterns of program engagement that are predictive of health improvement outcomes. Then we set out to measure the characteristics of program designs most predictive of meaningful engagement. Finally, based on a dataset containing over 1 million consumers and over 100 distinct designs, we established best practice ranges and recommendations.

We called these design patterns What the Best Do Better.

Over the next few weeks, we will highlight what top-performing organizations are doing differently, and how you can use these practical best practices to amplify the impact of your population health and well-being efforts. Watch this space!

You can also view and download the What the Best Do Better infographic here.

Engage your members the other 364 days of the year

Phil Hadden

Phil Hadden

By Phil Hadden, vice president, business development, RedBrick Health

If you’re like other health plans, you struggle with getting your members to actively engage in their health. When a member signs up for their health coverage, they receive a lot of information. Unfortunately, that health-related information often is put into a drawer and is mostly forgotten until a crisis arises.

So how can you get your members to engage in their health the other 364 days of the year?

The first step is to help members get started. Our research and results show that members who are empowered with choices and simple, short steps will engage. Our research also shows that members who can choose how they wish to engage and what they want to focus on will stay engaged longer. By encouraging them with ongoing communications and providing the combined power of social support, gamification, and financial incentives, our members enjoy lasting behavior change.

RedBrick Health’s engagement platform is your solution to help members get and stay on the path to better health. By bringing together all the benefits you offer and our powerful tools into one intuitive user experience, we ensure that each member has the right information at the right time. Our proprietary technology provides a flexible and configurable solution that easily integrates all programs you want to feature. Additionally, we offer valuable solutions like telemedicine, health advocacy, transparency, shared decision, medication compliance, and connectivity with most of the popular activity trackers and apps.

Our results speak for themselves. We help health plans obtain meaningful engagement that gets results.

  • A national health plan partner saw a 50% lift in care management engagement with RedBrick.
  • RedBrick health assessment drove a 38% increase in health assessment completion versus a prior vendor for a regional health plan partner.
  • Collaborating with RedBrick resulted in an overall engagement rate of 60% for a Regional Health Plan’s strategic employer account.

Contact us to find out how we can help your members get engaged in their health today.

Finding the first domino for your care management participants

Andrew Mellin

Andrew Mellin, M.D.

By Andrew Mellin, M.D., vice president, medical director, RedBrick Health

A Diabetic.  A Hypertensive.  A COPDer. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard a patient referred to by his or her disease. Nobody is “just a diabetic.” Nobody just has a disease or condition. Every individual is a complex interplay of clinical, behavioral, socioeconomic, genetic, spiritual, environmental and many other factors.

So is it surprising to learn that when people seek help to support their overall health and well-being, they often do not want to talk about their condition?  RedBrick Health has found that when people with diseases like diabetes, COPD, or heart failure first connect with our live coaches 80% of the time they don’t want to talk about their conditions; instead, they want to talk about some other aspect of their lives. The majority of the time they want to discuss improving another factor in their life that could directly improve their clinical condition.  As we’ve worked with these individuals, we’ve seen multiple times how identifying and addressing that first key factor – what we call the “first domino”- makes a measureable difference in changing that person’s path to health and well-being.

Here’s an example: Mary is a factory worker, obese, hypertensive, and has an HbA1c of 9.5. Mary is identified as a “high-risk diabetic.” Her doctor told her to lose weight and exercise, but she has been unable to make changes over the past few years. Mary’s “problem” is not diabetes. She has a high level of stress about supporting her family, which keeps her up at night during which time she mindlessly eats. Through live and digital coaching programs, Mary has learned that her first domino is stress. By learning how to more effectively deal with stress and be more resilient, Mary now sleeps better and is more mindful about her nutrition. She starts losing weight and reduces her diabetes medications.

What does this mean for managing the health and well-being of populations? Clearly, there is an important role for supporting very high acuity individuals through case management. Diseases can be complex, and people often need help from clinical experts coordinating care among their providers, and ensuring they receive the appropriate level of clinical support and all elements of evidence-based care. While this is enough for some, this approach alone may not make a meaningful, sustained change in the underlying behaviors that can improve each person’s disease and overall health and well-being.

The ideal approach augments case management with live and digital solutions that catalyze each person to identify his or her intrinsic motivation for change and find that first domino, regardless if that domino specifically addresses clinical elements of the condition or addresses lifestyle behaviors that underlie it. Then the individual needs ongoing, continuous step-by-step support through his or her personal journey towards better health.

The next time you look at the list of diabetics, COPDers, and CHFers in your population, remember that each person on the list has a first domino that most likely won’t fall by only addressing the disease. The best way to keep the dominos falling is through ongoing, individualized support that considers all domains of that person’s overall health and well-being.

Contact us to find out how we can help your care management participants find their first domino.