Mobile Health: Making Health Addictive
Addiction is a word laden with negative meaning. When we hear the word, we think of opiates, street drugs, cigarettes or possibly gambling. Making health addictive is really about the juxtaposition of motivational health messaging with some other addictive behavior -- specifically checking your smartphone (evidence shows that people check their smartphones more than 100 times per day).
Making health addictive is really about harnessing the power of our fascination with mobile devices to deliver personalized, relevant, motivational and unobtrusive messages to induce permanent behavior change. So how can we take advantage of this phenomenon to improve your health?
Strategy #1: Make it about life. Patronizing conversations with patients are largely ineffective. If we can learn about an individual's goals and tie health-related messaging to those aspirations, we have a better chance of long-term health improvement.
Strategy #2: Make it personal. The more context we know about an individual, the more we can message you in a very relevant way.
Strategy #3: Reinforce Social Connections. Social networks will be a powerful tool to increase accountability and adherence to care, and wellness plans and mobile phones make social interactions that much more convenient.
At the Center, we are focusing on three tactics to help make health addictive:
Tactic #1: Employ Subliminal Messaging. Imagine if every time you checked your phone, an unobtrusive brief message appeared about your health issue and how to improve it.
Tactic #2: Use Unpredictable Rewards. If every time an individual checked their phone, there was a relevant health message in the path (it can’t appear every time and it can’t be obtrusive; it might not need to even be noticeable), we may be able to change health behavior in a way that would seem almost effortless.
Tactic #3: Use the Sentinel Effect. Patients in our connected health programs tell us they are diligent about sticking to the program because their doctor or nurse is watching. This effect of having an authority figure look in on your life is a really powerful tool that can be used to effectively promote good health through mobility.