Communities to Implement Wide Range of Improvements to Achieve Higher Well-Being
HILO, Hawaii, and NASHVILLE, Tenn. February 13, 2015 – Hawai‘i Medical Service Association (HMSA), Blue Zones, LLC and Healthways, Inc. (NASDAQ: HWAY) today announced that three Hawaii communities have been selected as Hawaii’s first Blue Zones Project® Demonstration Communities. HMSA and Blue Zones Project congratulated East Hawaii, North Hawaii, and, Windward Oahu (Ko‘olaupoko) at an announcement ceremony in Hilo. These three communities will now join the island of Kauai, which was a selected to be a Blue Zones Project pilot community in 2013. Blue Zones Project Hawaii was launched through a partnership between HMSA and Healthways to improve the health and well-being of the state.
“Blue Zones Project has a proven track record,” said HMSA Chief Transformation Officer Michael Stollar. “In Iowa, Minnesota and California, Blue Zones Communities have lowered their healthcare costs, increased productivity and measurably improved the quality of life for their residents. Evidence like this shows that we have a tremendous opportunity to invest in the health and well-being of Hawaii.”
Blue Zones Project brings together citizens, schools, employers, restaurants, grocery stores and community leaders to improve the living environment so the healthy choice is not only easy but often unavoidable. Hawaii communities that expressed an interest in earning Blue Zones Project certification submitted applications last September. Now that they have been selected, these communities will work with national experts to develop and implement a blueprint for permanent environmental, social and policy changes that will result in healthier behaviors and longer, happier lives.
“We all recognize that we can’t tackle the global or national healthcare crisis, but we can start with ourselves, with our neighborhoods, with our community,” said Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi. “We’re excited about taking the lessons of the original Blue Zones areas and making them work here in Hawaii. What’s powerful about Blue Zones Project is its simplicity. When you look at healthcare, it’s almost like complex calculus, but when you explore Blue Zones Project and getting healthy, it’s simple addition.”
Blue Zones Project was born out of National Geographic explorer Dan Buettner’s examination of communities across the globe where people were happily living the longest. Buettner uncovered nine evidence-based common denominators among these “Blue Zones,” such as moving naturally and having a sense of purpose.
“I have spent a considerable amount of time in Hawaii over the past few years as we’ve begun to lay the groundwork for bringing Blue Zones Project to the state, and I am very excited about the potential for a statewide transformation,” said Buettner. “Pursuing this designation is a competitive process, and all three communities have demonstrated their readiness. Now the hard but rewarding work begins as they pursue changes in policies, social networks and the built environment that will lead to a healthier Hawaii.”
Buettner partnered with Healthways, Inc. (NASDAQ: HWAY) in 2009 to bring Blue Zones Project to the United States and help communities accelerate transformation through a comprehensive set of solutions designed to improve overall well-being.
“With Blue Zones Project, we are working to not only improve individual well-being but also optimize community-wide well-being by collaborating with residents, businesses and community leaders on long-term initiatives to make the healthy choice the easy choice,” said Ben R. Leedle, Jr., president and chief executive officer of Healthways. “We’ve seen the power of this proven well-being improvement initiative in other communities, and we look forward to getting started in East Hawaii, North Hawaii and Ko‘olaupoko.”
Caring for the people of Hawaii is our promise and our privilege. Working together with employers, partners, physicians and other health care providers, we promote wellness; develop reliable, affordable health plans; and support members with clear, thoughtful guidance.
HMSA is the most experienced health plan in the state, covering more than half of Hawaii’s population. As a recognized leader, we embrace our responsibility to strengthen the health and well-being of our community.
Headquartered on Oahu with centers statewide to serve our members, HMSA is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
About Blue Zones
Blue Zones employs evidence-based ways to help people live longer, better. The Company’s work is rooted in the New York Times best-selling books The Blue Zones and Thrive - both published by National Geographic books. In 2009, Blue Zones applied the tenets of the books to Albert Lea, MN and successfully raised life expectancy and lowered health care costs for city workers by 40%. Blue Zones takes a systematic, environmental approach to well-being, which focuses on optimizing policy, building design, social networks, and the built environment. The Blue Zones Project is based on this innovative approach. For more information, visit www.bluezones.com.
Healthways (NASDAQ: HWAY) is the largest independent global provider of well-being improvement solutions. Dedicated to creating a healthier world one person at a time, the Company uses the science of behavior change to produce and measure positive change in well-being for our customers, which include employers, integrated health systems, hospitals, physicians, health plans, communities and government entities. We provide highly specific and personalized support for each individual and their team of experts to optimize each participant’s health and productivity and to reduce health-related costs. Results are achieved by addressing longitudinal health risks and care needs of everyone in a given population. The Company has scaled its proprietary technology infrastructure and delivery capabilities developed over 30 years and now serves approximately 68 million people on four continents. Learn more at www.healthways.com.