Interatie Tech Company Develops Apps to Improve Public Health

Originally published on Managed Health Care Connect

Unfortunately, there is no one simple problem with our health care system. But in my opinion a critical problem is helping people incorporate health and wellness into their personal day-to-day lives. There are literally millions of words printed on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle but most Americans do not follow the best evidence. According to BJ Fogg, a contemporary psychologist, behavior change occurs at the intersection of motivation, ability, and triggers. For many Americans, changing to a healthy lifestyle hinges on having all of these being present simultaneously—but perhaps the most important is motivation.

Most psychologists, and even most parents, recognize that motivation is something that is intrinsic, not something that can be forced upon people. But it can be promoted and numerous health behavior theories approach this in a variety of ways through the use of social pressures, education, understanding, and helping people recognize that they are in charge of their behavior.

But, even a casual observer will recognize what an enormous challenge this is for our nation, given all of the statistics on non-adherence related to lifestyle, medication, and even preventive screening.

A company with a very interesting name, Mad*Pow, sees their job as helping people draw the connections between healthy behaviors and their personal values and goals, and then making it easy and even fun to perform those behaviors.

Mad*Pow, with offices in Portsmouth, NH, and Boston, MA was founded in 2000 by Will Powley and Amy Cueva. They call their approach “life design”. They combined their passion for understanding people and designing products and experiences to create a company that focuses on helping people improve their health, happiness, and well-being. Their skills include visual and interactive design, organizational and behavior change design, and “experience” strategy and development.

They feel it starts with the premise that it’s all about improving lives, not just habits or behaviors, and that starts by understanding people and creating empathy based approaches. They see, “empathy” as grounded in knowledge and understanding of the client or person.

They begin with researching and observing a targeted user. Their research includes asking a series of questions that allow them to understanding the patients. What drives them? What do they value most? What motivates them? What works for them today and what doesn’t?

Mad*Pow does not use a cookie cutter approach but prefers a collaborative design process with a lot of interactive “workshopping” with their clients and end-users. An important part of this process is combining their subject matter expertise with what they hear from their collaborators, who usually bring a different knowledge base to the process. They feel one of their strengths is to identify the critical insights from this collaboration and meld them with their expertise and with the findings from their research.

Finally, even though a lot of their work is digital, they are media-agnostic. They design the right solution for the person and the problem, which means the end result could be an artifact, hard-copy material, a process, or some combination.

One of their products is Hotseat, an app designed with the goal of decreasing the risk posed by prolonged sedentary behavior, or “sitting disease.” Using nudges, calendar integration, social accountability, and gameplay, Hotseat injects activity into the nine hours, on average, spent sitting each day. Through an extensive library of exercises ranging from cardio to strength training, Hotseat invites users to create a personalized schedule of two-minute breaks easily done at work or home.

Proof of concept is a solution that delivers on its intended purpose, and Hotseat does this with style. None other than the American Heart Association vetted Hotseat. Results of their study reflected: 78% engagement, 76% of users were more mindful of their time spent sitting, and 67% took more activity breaks. Hotseat has received awards and recognition for its design and effectiveness from The Webbys, The International Academy of Visual Arts, Partners Healthcare, and WEGO Health.

Another recent project was improving medication adherence for HIV. Medication adherence is more than nagging reminders. Through targeted user research, Mad*Pow was able to understand the challenges and complexities of adherence for people living with HIV, and design an application that supports their needs, motivates them, and builds confidence for successful adherence.

Mad*Pow’s answer was through an app called “EveryDose, EveryDay” which they created in collaboration with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the public health consulting organization John Snow, Inc. (JSI).

Mad*Pow is another of a long list of companies whose continued success will improve the health of millions of Americans through innovative technology.

Read the full article on Managed Health Care Connect
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