Adapted from Franklin Street’s Healthcare Marketing Trends Report.
A new form of self-help in healthcare and health and wellness is emerging. Brands like Nike are embedding “feedback loops” into their products, allowing people to get real-time reactions on their activities – while reaping brand loyalty and profits in the process.
Call it Do It Yourself (DIY) Healthcare or “Help Me Help Myself,” the process of baking in technology that gives consumers real-time feedback – whether it’s a vibration or from peer-to-peer – is based on fundamental psychology.
Ford’s Trends Report states that 80% of people say that discussing goals with others make the goals easier to achieve, and 48% of people believe they are more accountable when their friends and family check up on them.
Nike’s popular FUELBAND technology to help runners track their progress and stats. The bracelet is beautifully designed – almost like a piece of jewelry, and monitors your movement. But the real innovation lies in the ability for users to upload their data and share with peers. In essence, helping users to connect with a worldwide community that helps coach and motivate one another to stay active.
GymPact has a provocative sales pitch for its app: get charged $5 if you miss a workout (and get paid when you get to the gym). Users set a weekly gym attendance goal and check in each time they arrive. If users miss a scheduled workout, they have to pay out a set amount of cash (pre-determined by the user). Conversely, when a user hits her weekly gym goals, she gets paid by users who missed their workouts.
Lose It! is another free app that helps with health and wellness. Users log each meal and food item consumed, which is tracked against a daily allotted calorie goal. Calories burned from workouts are also tracked. Like Nike and GymPact, Lose It! users benefit from the peer-to-peer data sharing. Users can invite others to share daily exercise and food diaries, and announcements are sent out when a user loses or gains weight.
It might sound scary to share that kind of information to others, but that’s the point. Holding yourself accountable for your goals by having others hold you accountable is a positive motivator. I personally use Lose It! every day to record my workouts and food plans. I get feedback from my peer groups and personal trainer, and it’s helped me not only to follow through on my goals but to get great feedback. (My trainer noticed I wasn’t taking in enough calories and encouraged me to up my calorie intake, which in term helped me to burn more fat.)
Here’s my personal diary from the other day:
On the flip side of the feedback loop phenomenon, “Big Mother” devices are emerging to provide real-time feedback to help with health and wellness goals. Also described as wearable “tactile feedback,” the Wall Street Journal reports that these devices often synch with smart phones and are poised to be the Next Big Thing.
Most of us could do with better posture (myself included). LUMOback recently began to sell a device with a waistband that rests against a person’s lower back and vibrates when the back isn’t kept straight while sitting. (Hence the “Big Mother” term: remember how mom used to yell at you to stop slouching?)
Forrester Research says that “Big Mother” devices like LUMOback will become part of employer wellness programs that encourage workers to live healthier lifestyles. Already some employers offer devices that attach to workers’ clothes or shoes, track their physical activities and reward them for meeting goals.
As health systems make the shift to value-based healthcare and are incentivized for keeping patients well and out of the hospital, imagine how feedback loops and Do It Yourself Healthcare services can help your brand to stay in the forefront of patient engagement and innovation.
Already we’re seeing hospitals and health systems rethinking the traditional community support group. Support groups have always been a positive service to the community, but in most health systems were relegated to the basement of the hospital and provided few funding resources. The thinking was, support groups served the hospital’s mission but didn’t drive the revenue necessary to be valued from a financial standpoint.
That may be changing.
Additionally, hospitals are investing in email marketing – a “traditional” tool for other categories but still very new for healthcare – to provide patients managing disease states beneficial resources to keep them well and out of the hospital.
We’re such advocates of this kind of approach that we’ve mapped out a model for leveraging email marketing, social and other digital channels to empower and keep patients well. Take a look below and we hope you’ll be inspired to develop your own approach to help transform healthcare.
Developing DIY Health solutions for patients also means asking a simple question: what do patients want to be able to do for themselves? Actions could be help with quitting smoking, losing weight, remembering to take their health meds. As a healthcare brand, you could curate a list of smart phone apps and free online resources to share with patients who otherwise wouldn’t know these resources exist. If you’re a healthcare brand with the resources, you can build your own apps. Either way, you’re helping the DIY Health audience and they’ll reward you with loyalty and downstream revenue.
On a more fundamental level, what our consumers want is help simplifying their healthcare experiences. Healthcare is a complicated. It’s complicated to be a patient: all those medications to take, monitoring for side effects. Billing is complicated. Insurance pays this, you pay that, multiple bills for one procedure…You think you want a second opinion, but where do you go for advice? A friend, neighbor, Facebook? Healthcare brands can build lifetime loyalty from consumers by giving them ways to simplify the healthcare process.
Where do we go from here?
- Our health audiences are asking us to help them to manage their health and wellness. How will your healthcare brand respond to this request?
- Feedback loops – in the form of technology or old-fashioned peer-to-peer pressure – are being “baked in” to healthcare products and services. How can your healthcare brand innovate with this trend?
- Help consumers to simplify the process by giving them tools to help them make smart decisions about their healthcare and to navigate the confusing maze of healthcare.
- Health systems are going to be incentivized by keeping patients well and out of the hospital. How does your healthcare brand follow the path to profits by empowering audiences who are saying loud and clear, Help me help myself?
Adapted from Franklin Street’s Healthcare Marketing Trends Report
Have an interesting feedback loop story to share? Want to become Stephen’s LoseIt! buddy? Post your note in the comments box below.