The popularity of digital tools in the wellness space has grown exponentially. Nearly 90% of people in the United States look to the Internet for healthcare information, while more than 46 million people use apps from the fitness and health category, according to eMarketer and Nielsen.
On a parallel track, healthcare costs have risen, and it has become more difficult for consumers to get the support they need. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the single best way to reduce healthcare costs is not on the supply side, where nearly all of the investments in technology have been made to date, but rather on the consumer side by helping people find ways to improve their behaviors.
It makes sense. With healthcare costs rising, people have to scrutinize every healthcare dollar they spend. And while today’s techno gear and mobile apps are great, they are a means to an end.
The time is now for the healthcare and technology industries to refocus their priorities. Let’s look beyond just creating flashy tools and find out how we can help people make the behavioral changes they need to become healthier.
But how does the industry go about creating worthwhile digital tools? Through a recent study we conducted with Tapestry Research, we found that the most effective tools need to bear the following characteristics:
1. Be Holistic
Our study found that only 1 in 5 people is working towards a single health goal. Most people are working towards four health goals at any given time. Since people don’t look at their health goals in silos, brands and marketers shouldn't either.
For example, an OTC allergy brand should think beyond treating itchy eyes, and speak to its consumer more broadly about helping them manage their day-to-day wellbeing with a tracker that allows them to see how their allergies affect their stress levels. This brand could then offer the best combination of OTC meds to decrease their symptoms, alleviate stress and improve mood.
2. Mindset Matters
The study’s findings show that people who are able to take on a more proactive mindset and focused on starting healthier habits tend to have twice as much success as people who take on a more reactive approach focused on stopping bad habits.
Imagine the possibilities for building a broader and loyal consumer base if you can be the one to create an easier path for your consumer with your products and services at the center of their path
3. Personalization Goes a Long Way
Brands that can inspire consumers with personalized content they need to hit along the way can actually trigger a consumer into a health journey faster and be top of mind for that consumer as he or she moves into the later stages where they’re actively buying products and services. Brands should also provide examples that help consumers envision success, like personal stories from others.
Making health fun can also help both marketers and tech companies develop relationships with consumers. A brand can add a game element to the health process, and build devices and services that challenge consumers with some competition and incentive.
4. Provide Tools That Stick
Starting a new routine may be the single most challenging part in the path to better health. In fact, 60% of people who are taking action towards a health goal need help sticking to their plans.
There is a big opportunity here for brands to engage, as this is the stage where people more actively look for brands to partner with, and search for products that will fit their routine.
Brands should provide ongoing inspiration via content and linking consumers to like-minded others who can keep them motivated. Once you’ve gained a new consumer, reassure them of your value and validate their decision to choose your brand.
Rewards for All
The biggest takeaway from the study is the fact that people don’t want single purpose apps, standalone wearables or endless cyber nags. What they want is a holistic, multi-purpose solution that helps them use technology they’re already familiar with to get healthier and better manage their conditions, and that allows them to seamlessly communicate with healthcare providers or fitness trainers to get the expert guidance to continue.
To do this we need to help people get motivated by understanding the triggers that can jump start their health behavior journey, while maintaining a continuous partnership with them by providing a helping human hand — not just big data or digital tools in a vacuum.
The industry has to make that journey more natural and rewarding. It’s an opportunity that will allow people to save costs and potentially avoid or manage a life-long health condition down the road. It’s an opportunity that benefits all.