New Study Positions mHealth as Scalable Driver of Behavioral Change

7-28-2013 11-38-10 PM

Mobiquity, a development and consultant firm for enterprise mobile strategies, releases a new study titled “Designing an Effective Behavior-Change Platform,” in which researchers conclude that mHealth represents a scalable, cost-effective driver of behavioral change.

Researchers first looked to the work of clinical psychologists who have applied behavior-change techniques for decades, mostly to help people overcome addiction. Researchers then began evaluating mHealth offerings, more than 180 in total, to bring together the best and brightest behavior-change methods currently being used in the mHealth world to define a framework for using mobile health to successfully produce positive behavioral change.

The study found 17 different behavior-change methods being employed in the mHealth ecosystem, including: gamification, information/dashboards, reminders, and behavioral economics. The study evaluates the effectiveness of these methods and combines them to create a single best-practice framework. The framework’s recommendations includes:

  • Create an individualized solution -  Apps need to permit users to customize some elements of the user experience, such as the frequency of alerts,  the ability add self-measurements for areas of interest to the user, and easy sharing/linking to social networks. End users should have control over how they receive information: email, text, voice, etc.
  • Analytic models that trigger the appropriate interventions for each user – End users should be presented with appropriate content based on reported information, the conditions they are managing, where they are chronologically in their program, their level of adherence and participation, and other factors.
  • Low-effort data collection – Apps need to be easy to understand and fast to use. Integration with sensors and activity trackers, or the ability to barcode scan food packaging or prescription bottles as a means of entering data greatly reduces the burden on the end users and results in increased adoption and adherence rates.

The study loses credibility as it was funded and published by an industry vendor. Mobiquity also openly publicizes its own product offerings within the findings and conclusion. Still, analysis of the effectiveness of the behavior-change methods employed within mHealth is a worthwhile research topic.

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