Rajiv Kumar - Virgin Pulse

“We really love this new positioning of high tech meets high touch, to truly change health and well-being.”

~ Dr. Rajiv Kumar

We’ve all heard the numbers regarding the healthcare spend in the United States. When compared to other developed countries, per capita healthcare spending in the US ($9,892 in 2016) is 145 percent higher than the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) median of $4,033, and yet when comparing outcomes and process measures, the US lags behind. In some areas, such as the rates of premature death and disease burden, the U.S. is also not improving as rapidly as other countries, so the gap continues to grow.

Some of the key opportunities to reverse these trends lies in the way employers and employees collaborate and engage in reducing costs. In addition to benefits such as financial savings and optimizing employee benefits, there are additional ways to get a return on the investment such as improved business performance and a great company culture.

In this episode we’re diving into the changing aspects of the employee and employer relationship, and how intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can play a key role in improving health and well-being. My guest is Dr. Rajiv Kumar, Chief Medical Officer and President of the Virgin Pulse Institute.

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With the entrepreneurial spirit that seems to embody all Virgin businesses, it won’t surprise you to hear Dr. Kumar joined Virgin Pulse in 2016 after the company he founded was acquired by Virgin. That company was called ShapeUp, and he led the growth of the company from a two-person, dorm-room startup to a global company with over 100 employees, 800 customers, and 2 million participants around the world. During his time at ShapeUp, he pioneered new approaches to leveraging social connections to enhance employee health and well-being, and he also co-authored several peer-reviewed studies on the relationship between social networks and healthy behavior.

Dr. Kumar explains how motivation can lead to new workforce habits, and the unconventional approach that Virgin has to serving their employees.

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Today's Topics

  • The focus and services that Virgin Pulse provides along with the organizations they serve
  • Why Virgin Pulse has acquired various companies and its impact as the largest employee health and wellness company in the world
  • How their suite of services combine personalized coaching, remote and group coaching, apps, wearables and other innovations to improve health and well being
  • The synergies between digital tools and human interaction through personalized coaching, and how it affects costs and employee engagement
  • How intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can create the longterm, sustainable change that is needed in the workplace
  • The Virgin Brand’s approach to serving its employees first, and how that gets translated into practice in the employee/employer social contract
  • The elements of a well-being program and why employers are increasing their investment in this area

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Dan Kendall

Dan Kendall


As an engineer and business leader, I've worked to develop, launch and scale innovative products and solutions that impact health and wellness. As an entrepreneur, I know firsthand what it takes to start a business, build a team, and compete in the global marketplace.

On Digital Health Today, I leverage my experiences to help great leaders and innovators tell their stories and connect to users, investors and other stakeholders.

Connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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