Over the past few months, I’ve had the privilege of speaking at two industry-leading events on the transformative nature of digital innovation in healthcare. I approached these presentations thinking that I would be the one sharing the takeaway message, but instead, I too left with an impactful takeaway, an “aha” moment.

I first spoke at the Digital Health World Congress in London, in a keynote speech on “Unleashing the power of people: a blueprint for healthcare.” In it, I discussed the transformative nature of digital technology and how restructuring linear business models into digital models fundamentally changed how consumers interact with a product or service. I used international banking as an example since digital transformation made banking more accessible and scalable in modern ways.

Shortly after, I spoke at the CES Digital Health Summit about Wellsmith’s “waypoints” model for transforming consumer health as it relates to chronic disease management. Similar to banking, Wellsmith is using digital models to change how consumers manage their health. It was at CES, right before my speech, when I experience my “aha” moment: Behavior change comes, almost naturally, as a result of transforming a business model from linear to digital.


Fitting into Consumers’ Lives

When healthcare professionals discuss how they advise consumers to be more active in managing their own health, it’s almost universal they follow with “consumers just won’t change their behaviors.” Doctors share how patients will agree to follow the basics of a care plan, but they don’t. It’s almost as universal as patients saying they’d be happy to change their behaviors, if only it was something they could “fit” into the rest of their busy lives.

Healthcare’s current emphasis on “digital health” solutions has promised to solve this provider -patient standoff, and healthcare companies built around digital population health management assume that if they simply create a digital solution, consumers will flock to it. But the digital health movement is missing one critical component: Consumers already have a digital life. They don’t need you to build a new one, they need you to fit into theirs.

The beauty of digital models, when properly executed, is that they fit into consumers’ lives, not the other way around. If you can remove the friction of ‘following Doctor’s orders’, then you can achieve, at scale, what many have failed to accomplish:  engaging a patient to behave differently, the way they should.

Take banking, for example: In the old linear model, banking had to take place at the bank branch. Deposits, withdrawals and account transfers happened at the brick and mortar bank. Paying bills could only be accomplished with a checkbook, envelopes and stamps before digital banking completely disrupted how consumers bank. Those who tried online account transfers, direct deposits and online bill pay experienced the immediate benefits in terms of access and time saved. Soon after, new banking behaviors became a habitual part of life. 15 years ago, it used to take me the better part of two hours to complete banking tasks. Today, I can sort, prioritize, and pay my bills in less than 10 minutes and account transfers take seconds. The only reason I need to go to a bank is to get a document notarized.

The same concept is true in managing chronic conditions, like type 2 diabetes, via digital models in health care. In the current, mostly linear model, a combination of confusing paper instructions and call center check-ins require consumers to bear the burden of disease management once it is handed off to them at their doctor visit.

Engage with Simple, Memorable and Actionable Directions

Digital models provide the advantage of simplifying the process of management, by turning manual processes into waypoints, like we do at Wellsmith. This creates a simple digital workflow for consumers to follow. Compared to traditional models, digital models tend to reduce friction, making it easier for users to not only adopt but also stick to the process more readily. We are seeing this quick adaptation at Wellsmith with our type 2 diabetes population. Our platform design consciously integrates into a user’s existing digital life, resulting in a participant retention rate of 89% after 12 months.*

Back to my “aha” moment, I realized consumers will naturally adopt new behaviors in order to interact with new digital models that make sense to them, which is why Wellsmith’s simple, memorable and actionable approach is valuable. We believe in the adaptive ability of humans to embrace new ways when it becomes apparent that the new way solves the problems of the old way, and is simple to follow.

Wellsmith’s digital platform helps solve two of the largest problems for both consumers and healthcare:

(1) We engage people to behave differently (i.e. better) in managing their chronic condition.

(2) We activate people to stick with care plans because it’s not only the right thing for them, it’s now easier to follow.

Learn more about our Wellsmith’s platform at wellsmith.com



*Based on participants who have been terminated from the plan, withdrawn or had their benefits cancelled.