FLASHBACK: Getting WIRED on Emotional Resonance

By Spitz (@SpitzStrategy)

Thomas Goetz revels in the paradox of healthcare: On the one hand the process of medicine is highly deterministic, input to output, symptoms to solutions; but on the other hand, the connection between physician and patient is highly emotional, experts communicating with people in crisis. Bridging that apparent gap is the essence of good medicine, now made even more powerful through the art and technology of digital health.

At the ePharma Summit last year Thomas shared insights from his book The Decision Tree, and discussed what he means by “Information with Feeling” (IWF) as a way to optimize both healthcare decision making and the behavioral change required to see it through:

WIRED Magazine’s Thomas Goetz Reveals His Strong Interest in Health Medicine and Explains His Concept of I.W.F. from Zemoga on Vimeo.

His point that fostering and sustaining emotional resonance is key to healthcare success has already been proven in advertising, where bringing about behavioral change has little do with the inherent characteristics of a brand. Instead, capturing mindshare through positioning and connecting to the often irrational and unconscious needs of the audience are what stick.

Healthcare consumers are vastly different, however, in the sense that patients aren’t voluntarily shopping for something to find, but forced into a situation where they seek solutions to significant and often life-threatening problems, struggling to regain the health they have lost. Available treatment solutions are complex and always have consequences, most of them regulated and expedited through professionals.

All these factors make sound decision-making and emotional connectivity in healthcare even more vital. Thankfully the evolution of the digital user experience from clunky, impractical, and mechanistic interfaces to a sleek, intuitive, and user-friendly mobile experience lends itself perfectly to creating that kind of connection. By combining the data acquisition and crunching power of a smartphone with sensitive design strategy, both the science and the humanity of medicine can shine through to maximize patient benefit.

Citing several recent example of the tens of thousand of mobile health apps already available, Thomas described patient-friendly sleep improvement, weight loss, and blood pressure monitoring apps as a few examples where raw data, seamless monitoring, effective algorithms, and an intuitive user experience combine to make a difference. Turning negative feelings and attitudes of fear and non-compliance into positive feedback loops where heath and wellness becomes easy, positively reinforcing, and self-sustaining is the goal.

So far the mobile health tree has blossomed, thanks to the sheer practicality of portability, and the evolution of digital design from clunky user interface (UI) to an emotionally resonant user experience (UX). Let’s hope the industry keeps eating its Wheaties, and remains focused on the ultimate end user‚îthe patient.

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Michael Spitz , known most often as just "Spitz," is Editor-in-Chief of the Pixels & Pills and a prollific tweeter, blogger, and article writer, active in digital health across all specialties. Follow him @SpitzStrategy.

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