Article Digital Health

Changing patient’s motivations – A job for digital therapeutics

Categories: Digital Health
Posted 10 November 2020

We have all been in a situation where we have been told what to do to address an ailment or condition, but for one reason or another, we lose motivation, stop using medication and find a reason to justify our contradictory actions.

Whether it is lifestyle choices, physical therapy, medication or symptom monitoring, we know that the advice of a trusted healthcare professional can motivate us as patients, but maintaining that motivation and ensuring our adherence is a difficult job.

With a range of complicated and varied pressures being placed on health services throughout the world in 2020, can digital solutions be a way of both extending and developing capacity, whilst offering the flexibility and scalability that can manage costs?

Let’s take a look at how digital therapeutic solutions can be an important driver in managing the human psychology that underpins adoption and adherence.

Gamifying positive behavioural traits

Most of us understand why Strava data or a Fitbit can provide us with additional motivation for movement, right? The little dopamine hit that we get when we people give us kudos for our run or the satisfying noise from hitting your step goal is playing into our brain’s need for social validation and goal attainment. Without it would you hit 10,000 steps or beat your 5k PB?

By utilising technology to nudge us in the direction of positive action, we can have a profound impact on our own health. From counting calories to recognising thought patterns, stretching out our muscles to administering medication, the range of actions that can be driven, supported and maintained through well-designed digital therapeutic solutions is incredibly diverse.

By understanding the mix of triggers both human and digital that help patients engender adherence, we can design gamified digital solutions that mimic the external influences that are so good at driving positive behavioural change.

Shifting from self-management to personalised motivation

Many existing digital therapeutic solutions are just a place to record data. They merely ask the patient to enter information when a particular action is complete. This kind of self-management tool can compound the monotony of these actions and can drive patients to lose impetus.

Finding motivation requires a nuanced, personal approach… which can be found in a mix of digital and human interactions.

From mental health applications that offer a mix of self driven mindfulness, gamified learning & development, alongside access to 1-2-1 counselling via video call, through to applications where the individual’s objectives and actions required by the patient are created by and tweaked over time by a health professional (with whom the patient has a relationship)… we see the value of having a human to be accountable to, alongside an engaging digital platform to nudge our behavioural traits.

Leveraging data to drive optimal outcomes

The beauty of any application is the ability to accrue, store, model and analyse the data created by your digital product.

This provides not only a rich source of learning around how to continually improve and develop these platforms, but also identifies how they might evolve with the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence.

When a diverse, accurate and varied set of data streams can be quality managed, reviewed, audited and understood, the value of machine learning can be applied to deliver an automated engine room for digital products. For example, robo-advice powered by rich streams of anonymised but a condition or disease-specific data could in the future automate the ‘human touch’ mentioned in the previous paragraph by accurately mimicking personalised contact via instant messenger.

The integration of emerging technologies will find new ways to make healthcare accessibility modern, scalable and valuable. The business case for creating new digital therapeutic toolkits in 2020 is clear, we need platforms and applications that have a real depth of content, breadth of interaction and a hybrid model of digital and human involvement, to get the best out of ourselves and the people around us.

Waracle deliver purposeful software products for our visionary clients across healthcare, financial service and energy. Our experts are passionate about delivering applications that have transformative real-world implications. If you are interested in finding out more about our track record in digital health, why not get in touch with our team today.