OCTOBER 16-18, 2019



October 16-18, 2019 | Boston, MA

Health Technology Through the Lenses of Behavior Science

Heather Cole-Lewis, PhD, Nnamdi Ezeanochie, MD, DrPH, and Madalina Sucala, PhD

The Connected Health Conference (CHC) was a great opportunity to get a front row view of the latest technologies being deployed in health and wellness. CHC brought together experts from behavior science, academia, health IT, public policy, and consumer technology – all looking to propose, assess and advance technology innovations for better health. Among other events, Johnson & Johnson’s behavior scientists were invited to participate in the Behavior Science: Moving from Buzz to Impact Panel, and to join the expert faculty in the Standout Startup Sessions.

As behavioral scientists, while taking an exciting glimpse into the future of digital health, we also tried to peer through the buzz and sharpen our lenses to assess innovative technologies by a series of very specific criteria: 1) the scientific principles upon which they were built, 2) their impact, and 3) the way they can harness data to scale.

First and foremost, we look at the science behind the technology curtain. People won’t change their health behavior because of a slick device, but rather because that device was built upon scientific principles, and because under the cloak of an attractive user-centric design, rigorous scientific techniques await to influence and support healthy behaviors.

Of course, as it should be of no surprise, we also keep a close eye on the impact of a solution. With every innovation, digital health technologies bring the promise of delivering effective interventions. For this to be demonstrable, the impact of a solution must be measured and tested. We try to identify a solution’s measurement approach. Were there any validation efforts? What evidence is there of its impact on behavior or health outcomes? Is there more granular data on users’ engagement with the solution and their health behaviors, so we can know more about how it works, and for whom it works?

With the wealth of data that digital health ushers in, we also look at a solution’s potential to harness this data and use it to offer personalized interventions that can be scaled. We look at how the solution captures data. Does it have a capable back-end? What type of data does it capture? Is there potential for using advanced analytics, such as machine learning, to move towards an adaptive, personalized solution?

To summarize, beyond the technology buzz, as scientists we look at the precise methods through which innovation can improve healthcare. We want to make sure that digital health solutions are not merely consumer products, but rather health interventions. CHC offered a global hub of innovation, providing a unique and exciting opportunity for dialogue and partnerships toward leveraging science for better health and wellbeing.


Heather Cole-Lewis, PhD, is the Director of Behavior Science at Johnson & Johnson, and Chair of the Digital Health Council, Society of Behavioral Medicine

Nnamdi Ezeanochie, MD, DrPH, is a Senior Manager of Behavior Science at Johnson & Johnson

Madalina Sucala, PhD, is a Senior Manager of Behavior Science at Johnson & Johnson, and member of the Digital Health Council, Society of Behavioral Medicine

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