When I started to use Nike Plus I couldn't imagine I would end up enjoying running so much. Nike Plus allowed me to keep a record of all of my runs and gather feedback and motivation from friends on Facebook, where all of my runs are automatically posted. Thanks to a challenge we've set up in the frog Milan Studio, I've pushed my limits much farther than I would have ever expected only a month ago.
You might wonder why this should matter to you. Well, it's a long story and for the purpose of this post we'll keep it short: global changing factors such as aging population, growing incidence of chronic diseases and sky-rocketing costs are undermining the healthcare system as we know it.
Healthcare needs to be reframed: we need to move away from a system which is HCP-centric, based on treatment and prescriptions, command and control. We need to move towards a patient-centric system, based on prevention and behavior improvements, whose records are constantly collected. In the past few years many products and services designed around this new framing have been successfully launched: Proteus IEMs, Adidas Micoach, Dexcom Seven, Philips Directlife, and Zeo Sleep Monitor. What all of these products have in common is that they record data through sensors, provide users with feedback and help them change their behavior accordingly.
When it comes to behavior change, BJ Fogg's mantra "put hot triggers on the path of motivated people" becomes a must, but with one caveat: motivating people affected by a disease, especially if it is a chronic one, can be extremely hard. That's why the healthcare world has started to borrow some of the mechanics that have made many games so successful. This has helped to increase motivation and turn behaviors that would be extremely hard to trigger, such as undergoing chemotherapy, losing weight or exercising more, into less painful, if not pleasurable experiences.
"Gamification" is a hot topic in the design community these days and it's up to us, as designers, to turn it into an opportunity for the good. Check out my presentation on how to design for behavior change in healthcare for more details.