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Promoting Engagement in Health Management Programs

by Scott MacStravic

When I read Lloyd Davis’ piece the other day about “Blogging in the British NHS”, I was struck by how useful the kinds of blogs he described could be in Health Management programs in general, and in countries other than the UK.  The potential for written, photo and video blogs to empower both HM provider and participants as well as prospects for specific HM programs to learn more, share insights, offer feedback to providers, deliver testimonials, describe personal experiences, etc. seems like a low-cost element that could be added to almost any HM initiative.

Even prepared video “lessons”, motivational programs, and HM provider materials can be shared over blog links.  Personal stories, advice on dealing with common HM behavior change barriers, insights into what participants are gaining through their participation, etc., can be powerful influences on participant enrollment, retention, and persistence in personal efforts.  Personally videoed stories of what participants are learning and experiencing can be far more powerful in their influence on their peers than are provider-originated content, though both can be part of a blog strategy.

Blogs are excellent places to find feedback useful to HM providers, in addition to the benefits participants gain.  They are a natural for reinforcing prospects who are still not sure about what the HM program entails, as well as what it accomplishes.  Only participants are likely to be able to identify all the barriers, problems, and benefits of participation, in addition to being the most credible source about them.  They can also enable quick and easy communication by HM providers, once logging on to a blog site becomes a frequent habit, where participants approve of such use.

Among the expected effects of blog interactions among participants in HM programs is the often demonstrated “cognitive dissonance” impact of people who describe and rave about their HM experiences.  Not only will this tend to promote “conversion” of other prospects to becoming participants, and enthusiastic cooperation of participants in the HM intervention.  It will also tend to make the describers more engaged, in order to make their behavior match their words.

Because they are one of many web applications, they can supplement low-cost HM interventions that are based on e-mail or website interventions, helping both HM providers and their clients hold costs down, while increasing HM effectiveness, and thereby improving both the probability and extent of returns to insurance plans, governments, or employers who invest in HM.  The Lloyd Davis example deals with a primary care trust in the UK system, but its applications should also include a wide range of HM efforts as well.


2 Comments »

  JeremyS wrote @ September 19th, 2007 at 7:57 pm

Great ideas. This is exactly what I alluded to in a recent post:

Better yet, provide the employees a forum to share their progress, challenges and successes with their peers.

At my company, the wellness program we have has done this a little bit on the intranet by sharing a few success stories. But they haven’t really gotten a bigger discussion or interaction going. We do, however, have internal blogs and forums that are self-managed, and I hope to explore such an approach there.

  JeremyS wrote @ September 19th, 2007 at 7:59 pm

Whoops, here’s the correct link to my post: Doctor as Teacher.

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