A Key Ingredient to the Health & Wellness Regimen

Sigvard Bore

The largest gap in health information exists during all the time between visits to the doctor – 5000+ waking hours! Ironically, this gap in health knowledge is also when health actually happens. During visits to the doctor, direction and guidance are provided, but the individual is responsible for following that guidance, and also to let their physician know if expected outcomes are being achieved…

To date, this approach has been mostly a “fire and forget” mindset, or more appropriately, “fire and hope.” Along with others, HealthIO was formed to redefine this dated model of healthcare while away from the doctor or clinic – to gain visibility into & take preventive measures based on longitudinal, patient-generated health data. Not surprisingly, this is no small undertaking with some equally daunting challenges to overcome. Near the top of that list is to ensure sustained adoption of whatever solution is placed in the hands of the individual.

A trusted advisor once told me that trying to change just one minute of a person’s daily routine is akin to the effort required to train for a marathon. With this in mind, most will understand the core principles that drive user behavior:

However, when it comes to managing health and wellness, there is another critical dimension to encourage lasting change: inclusion of others who are also vested in the individual’s health & wellness.

We knew right from the beginning of HealthIO’s formation that including a support network would be critical, and also to begin reversing the unintended consequence of modern society that has led many people to believe that being independent also means managing health alone. What we did not know right away was how important a role professional caregivers & clinic staff could play in the new shift towards patient-generated data and sustained adoption of at-home solutions like HealthIO.

During early Alpha and Beta testing when we first launched the HealthIO solution to our family, friends and early adoption testers, it became clear how important a role the support network would play. The users who invited trusted friends and family members into their support network were much more likely to adhere to measurement targets and ongoing monitoring over a longer period than those who went it alone.

As we moved to our first public launch, we donated several lifetime subscriptions to a number of disabled veterans who suffer from traumatic brain injuries (TBI) – the inclusion of their family members and trusted caregivers showed results almost immediately, and had a remarkable impact on several veterans and their likelihood to proactively seek treatment from the VA.

Despite these early indicators of the importance of support network inclusion, we could not avoid seeing the common / expected drop in adoption rates over time. Once the “shiny new toy” effect wore off, the motivation to keep monitoring your health is likely to wane. That perspective changed when we launched another joint effort with an organization focused on helping those in several underserved communities.

Unlike before, these users not only were encouraged to add trusted friends and family to their support network, but were also required to have their nurse practitioner added to their support network, and had periodic checkpoints with that nurse over the course of the deployment. To say the adoption results were impressive would be an understatement… We saw adoption rates that averaged north of 60%, and exceeded 90% for others who were a part of the study. For an area that sees adoption rates in the single digits with declining sustain rates, these numbers are remarkable.

So why did this deployment have such exceptional results? Dedicated nurses who genuinely care is definitely part of the answer… coupled with giving them the tools and visibility into the patients’ day-to-day health that allowed these nurses to prepare for the periodic interaction with each patient, adjust treatment plans as needed, and have a meaningful phone conversation at every scheduled call.

In addition, I believe this effort highlights another consideration as we collectively move towards an improved healthcare model: the at-home health solution is not ready to fly on its own quite yet, and perhaps, it never should be? Having a team that contains the patient, trusted family & friends, trusted caregivers, and professional medical staff will likely remain the most potent combination for sustained adoption for a long time to come!