OCTOBER 16-18, 2019



October 16-18, 2019 | Boston, MA

Designing for Wellness at Scale

By John Sharp, Director of Thought Advisory, Personal Connected Health Alliance.

Design is one of our key themes for the Connected Health Conference. Join us in Boston this October 2019 to hear more about designing apps and devices for personal connected health.

In the past few months, there were two major announcements highlighting the launch of wellness programs, both with the potential to impact large populations of users. In September 2018, at the Health 2.0 Annual Conference, Walmart announced a new wellness app for its employees. In February 2019, Aetna announced a new wellness app for its members at a launch event in Boston. Both of these apps have a strong foundation in evidence-based behavior change and yet have simple design features.

Attain, Aetna’s New Health App

Aetna Attain AppWith 93 million Aetna plan members, and their 2018 acquisition of CVS, Aetna has the ability to scale this platform beyond most consumer wearable solutions. At the announcement of the Attain program from Aetna, they presented not only the research behind the app testing by Vitality, but also the security around the data through Apple’s policy of putting privacy first. The design of the app, both on the Apple Watch and the iPhone app, emphasizes simplicity and a step-wise process, from activity and healthy actions to rewards. The steps are straightforward with a clear display of progress in each activity by day and by week. Health dashboards like this can be effective but only if they provide relevant data which is personalized and motivating. The addition of a mini-dashboard on the smart watch provides more continuous feedback which can enhance motivation. Initially, they are asking members to sign-up for the opportunity to join the program. 

Fresh Tri, Walmart’s Nutrition Behavior App

Walmart announced the launch of their employee Health and Wellness app at the Health 2.0 Annual Conference in September 2018. Called Fresh Tri, the app was also developed based on behavior science principles through Kyra Bobinet, CEO and founder of engagedIN. Based on concepts from B.J. Fogg and the Stanford Pervasive Tech Lab, the design is both simple and elegant. It was designed based on interviews with a wide variety of employees, another important design principle. The app invites the user to select an activity to try each week. This achieves both some personalization (instead of activities being imposed) and avoids the sense of failure often associated with attempts to improve one’s health. By limiting the choices to a few simple icons, the app makes health habits more achievable. The app also asks the user to engage others in support their choice of healthy activities, creating social support for change.

With the potential of creating healthy changes for its 2.2 million employees, the potential impact at scale is significant. For both of these apps, I am hopeful that results of their effectiveness at scale will be reported in the near future. Also, it will be important to report the durability of that change.

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