*Bill Hartman
Director: Research and Strategy, Essential
Oral Presentation – Business Track
Saturday, Sept 29, 2012: 10:05 AM – 10:25 AM – LK120

Formative end-user research identifying social-network-related motivations for healthcare and wellness behavior change; and translation of findings into product development strategy.

MeYou Health, a healthcare start-up, was founded to engage, educate and empower people to pursue healthy lifestyles. The goal was to leverage game-mechanics principles in the context of individuals’ social networks to create a fun, supportive environment for lasting healthy behavior change.

Specifically, we:

  • explored people’s definitions of well-being
  • discovered connections between well-being and social networks
  • identified motivations and obstacles to preferred behaviors
  • illustrated patterns of contextually-specific roles in well-being interactions
  • developed an end-user-driven product development strategy to create interactions that promote healthy behavior change.

Increased rates in chronic conditions like diabetes, vascular disease, hypertension, and obesity negatively impact lifespan and quality of life. Negative economic impacts are well- documented but recent academic research also proves negative social effects on the community of people that cares for them. But even when symptoms become obvious, many people don’t make lifestyle changes necessary to improve their well-being.

The central problem is that behavior change is extremely difficult to sustain.  Many issues contribute to that problem (e.g. time-pressure, food supply, cultural conventions, social pressures, etc.), but in some examples (e.g. smoking cessation programs, Weight Watchers, etc.) unhealthy behaviors have changed for large numbers of people. A core success indicator is the strength of the social-network that is created and engaged to help individuals achieve their goals. These social networks work because of the way they engage people in small ways, helping people stay on track.

Working with our client, we saw an opportunity to engage people’s social networks to promote well-being concepts and sustained healthy living through game design.

With that framework, the components of our challenge were to:

  1. Understand why people in some circumstances don’t address their wellness issues,
  2. Explore how social networks could be engaged to motivate and advise individuals to take better care of themselves and sustain this well-being path, and,
  3. Determine how to encourage individuals to help others, WHEN they want help, and HOW they want to be helped.

Our approach was multi-faceted; we developed research tools that would elicit product development strategy inputs for participant acquisition, activation, retention, referral, and revenue components of the business.  More specifically, we:

  1. characterized and clarified the problem space,
  2. described key member archetypes via a user taxonomy and behavioral segmentation,
  3. identified product/feature opportunities of high interest to various segments of the target user population,
  4. informed the development of a well-being social-gaming platform that would allow participants to work toward personalized well-being goals through day-to-day challenges,
  5. informed components of the business strategy by evaluating user preferences for various referral and revenue generating concepts.