IBM has won a R15,5-million, five-year contract to design, manufacture, roll out and maintain 126 HealthZone Kiosks for Virgin Life Care South Africa.
The new kiosks will replace those manufactured in-house by Virgin Life Care and are being rolled out nationally into Virgin Active clubs, corporate offices and Dis-Chem Pharmacies.
“We chose to go with IBM, here and in the US, because IBM is able to offer the full spectrum of service – from manufacture, shipping, logistics, implementation and kiosk management, as well as providing ongoing support and advice throughout the lifecycle of the kiosks,” says Andrew Milne, chief executive of Virgin Life Care South Africa.
“IBM’s high-quality manufacturing processes gave us a more cost effective way of producing and maintaining these kiosks than was the case when we produced them ourselves. Also, through IBM and its business partners, we gain access to a much broader range and wider geographical reach of maintenance expertise,” he adds.
The kiosks are subject to a lot of wear and tear, with more than 300 000 Virgin Life Care members using them regularly to check their blood pressure, body fat percentage and weight measurements. Members also use the kiosks to assess and monitor their progress from their recommended exercise and dietary programmes provided by Virgin Life Care. These programmes are derived from members’ health profiles, lifestyle goals and their health measurements.
The kiosks provide more than 4-million measurements a year.
The HealthZone kiosks represent one component of Virgin Life Care’s lifestyle and preventative programmes offered to medical schemes through their incentive programmes.
Incentivising medical scheme members to take preventative measures works well for many medical schemes. Virgin Life Care says that during 2006, 47% of people trying to lose weight using Virgin Life Care lifestyle plans not only lost weight but kept it off for the whole year with an average weight loss of 3,4kg. Of the people wanting to reduce their blood pressure, 41% succeeded in reducing their readings to normal levels and were able to keep them at the normal range during the 12-month period.
“People rely on the kiosks to keep motivated, continue tracking their health and to take the necessary action to stay healthy, so ensuring that the kiosks are reliable and cost effective, were crucial elements in their design and manufacture,” says Gary Carroll, director of small to medium businesses at IBM South & Central Africa.
“It was also important to keep deployment, maintenance and support as simple as possible for Virgin Life Care and enable the company to focus on keeping people fit and healthy without being distracted by the underlying technology,” Carroll explains.
The South African project mirrors one already completed in the US. Manufacture of the South African units began in March 2007 – with the first unit installed in Cape Town at the end of May. The roll-out of the kiosks to the rest of the country is expected to be completed by the end of this month (July).
IBM South Africa’s business partner, First Distribution, is managing the distribution of the kiosks. IBM is installing the kiosks and managing ongoing support and maintenance as well as training of Virgin Life Care employees.