The Art and Science of Applying Behavioral Economics to Digital Health Design

One thing designers and behavior change experts agree on: Behavioral economics are powerful tools to use for health intervention design. Concepts from behavioral economics—often called “nudges”—can inform incentive design, participation strategies, and the feature sets of interventions with the goal of impacting behavior to achieve positive outcomes.

However, many behavioral economic-inspired features don’t achieve their desired goals, and we think we know why. In this talk, we’ll review several of the core concepts in behavioral economics. We’ll share examples of how they can be misapplied in digital design and explain why they are not effective in those contexts.

But don’t fret; we’ll also share best practices for applying these concepts based on the evidence-based literature. We’ll dive into how human-centered design—understanding the user’s needs and context—can save the day. We consider the user’s experience with an intervention over time and identify critical milestones and touchpoints. At each stage, the user’s needs change, and as a result, the particular behavioral economics principles that most effectively influence behavior do too. By blending the skills of a designer with the expertise of a psychologist, you too can create effective health interventions using behavioral economics.

Contributed by
Amy Bucher
Job Title
Behavior Change Design Director