Category Archives: Health

What’s in a Nudge? Our SXSW Submission

I am super excited about the panel I submitted for SXSW 2018. It’s called “What’s in a Nudge? Behavior Change in Health” and it will focus on the uses and limits of behavioral economics in engaging patients with their healthcare. I’m a little amazed at the caliber of the speakers who agreed to be part of the panel–all women who I admire professionally and personally: Continue reading What’s in a Nudge? Our SXSW Submission

How Can Voice Tech Help Health Behavior Change? The Alexa Diabetes Challenge

I’ve gotten to do some cool work things lately. One big one is getting involved in the Alexa Diabetes Challenge, sponsored by Merck & Co., and supported by Amazon Web Services (AWS). Contestants are tasked with coming up with an idea, and later a working prototype, for an intervention that leverages Alexa’s voice technology to support people newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. The challenge administrators, Luminary Labs, curated a panel of subject matter experts across a variety of domains to work with the five finalists. I’m supporting them on behavior change, along with Marika Saarinen, a PharmD and certified diabetes educator at Virginia Mason. Continue reading How Can Voice Tech Help Health Behavior Change? The Alexa Diabetes Challenge

Digital Health Is Not a Hammer: Why Your Interventions May Be Set Up for Failure

As more data has become available on the success of digital health and wellness platforms, it’s become clear that many health plans and self-insured employers don’t have the positive return on investment (ROI) they’d hoped to see. A 2013 study by RAND  Health (which did not focus exclusively on digital interventions) finds that employers have an overall ROI for health and wellness interventions of $1.50 per employee, but that disease management programs drive much of it. Wellness programs deliver, on average, only about a $0.50 ROI. It’s not nothing, but it’s also not enough to pin all of our hopes on. Is it time to give up on digital health? Continue reading Digital Health Is Not a Hammer: Why Your Interventions May Be Set Up for Failure

What’s Different About Designing For Health?

A question I’ve been thinking about more recently is, what makes health behavior change so special? And surprisingly enough for someone who’s spent over a decade focusing on health behavior change, I think the answer is: It’s not. The more I explore other behavior change challenges, the more I see that designing for health isn’t  really different from other types of behavior change interventions. Continue reading What’s Different About Designing For Health?

When The Medical Is Personal

At the 2014 TEDxJNJ event I attended, Bennett Levitan of Janssen R&D talked about work he was doing to incorporate patient preference and risk tolerance into pharmaceutical treatment (a review of his research is here). The idea is that from a purely medical and scientific standpoint, we’ve established risk points beyond which we consider a treatment unsafe. More than x% risk of a serious side effect? That treatment will not be offered to patients. And most of the time, that’s the right decision.

Continue reading When The Medical Is Personal

How Is a Good Insight Like a Patent?

how-is-a-good-insight-like-a-patentI got interested in genetic testing for fitness a while back, but haven’t pulled the trigger on anything yet (besides 23 and Me, a few years ago before they got their hands slapped by the FDA). There’s a part of me that imagines a dream future where a simple genetic test can unlock my ideal diet and exercise regimens and then I follow them and become a fitness model. Yeah, I know that’s not going to happen. In the meantime, I’ve explored a couple of free or low-cost options to see how close reality might be to the dream. Continue reading How Is a Good Insight Like a Patent?

Personalization: Good for Health Interventions, Maybe Not for Mattresses

amybucherphd-comI believe in personalization.

Evidence has firmly established that more personalized behavior change programs are more effective. People perceive personalized information as more relevant, are more likely to remember it, and more likely to actually make changes as a result of it. That’s the entire premise that the startup I worked for, HealthMedia, was founded against, and the validity of the approach is why Johnson & Johnson acquired us and made that personalized behavior change capability part of their enterprise offerings. Continue reading Personalization: Good for Health Interventions, Maybe Not for Mattresses

Imagining Your Future Self Can Help You Be Healthier Now

imagining-your-future-self-can-help-you-be-healthier-nowDid you know that visualizing yourself differently can help you make health changes now? Depending on what you’re trying to change, either imagining a better future you or a worse one could provide the psychological and physiological fuel for transformation. For people looking to lose weight and improve lifestyle behaviors, picturing a worst place scenario future self might help. If you’re struggling instead with chronic pain, your solution may be to envision a better future you. Continue reading Imagining Your Future Self Can Help You Be Healthier Now

“Narrate This Like This Is a Ken Burns Documentary”: 2 Dope Queens on Patient Care

Blurry view of hospital corridor.If you want to hear about some bad bedside manner, I highly recommend a recent episode (“Goo”) of the podcast Two Dope Queens, starring Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson. Williams found a lump in her breast and made an appointment to get an ultrasound to find out what it was. She talks about her experience with the ultrasound and subsequent biopsy, and highlights a couple of unfortunately all-too-common negative patient experiences along the way.  I’d chalk these experiences up to at least two dynamics: Lack of empathy, and lack of communication. Continue reading “Narrate This Like This Is a Ken Burns Documentary”: 2 Dope Queens on Patient Care

Why Coaches Need to Think Longitudinally

Why Coaches Need to Think LongitudinallyImagine it’s your first visit to a dentist, doctor, or health coach. They will usually start with a basic exam to establish your level of health. That begins the discussion of any changes or improvements you might want to make. Normally in the formal care system, that first visit is accompanied by the transfer of your historical records from previous providers so the new one can tell not just your current state, but your trajectory. That’s not necessarily so with coaches, and definitely not so with digital coaches. But that history is so important.

Continue reading Why Coaches Need to Think Longitudinally