The Path to Better Health – It’s Paved with Choices


The Path to Better Health – It’s Paved with Choices

What has true coercive power in any economic system? Who can affect real change? True customers. Those people or organizations who can walk away from a deal, who have alternatives, who have information, or who have multiple providers competing for their business on price, quality and experience. Those who have a real stake, both personal and financial, in getting the best deal for themselves and/or their employees or families. (Source: Joe Flower)

So, if satisfying the needs of these true customers is a key to improving healthcare, and I sincerely believe it is, then the question becomes, “How?”

As in, “How do we offer the choices and help the customer identify the options … that most closely meet their needs?” (Source: Alex Hurd, Walmart).

To answer the question, we must return to the story of the elephant, the rider and the path. In a previous blog: GDPR: The Story of Me and the Cost of Healthcare I introduced the following definitions:

  • The Elephant and the Rider: Inside each of us (Me) there is an emotional side the Elephant, and the rational side the Rider.
  • N of 1. (link) An n-of-1 experiment is the smallest study you could possibly do: one that involves just a single subject – Me.
  • Path The notion that if you want someone (Me) to change, then you must guide Me along a familiar path like my current environment.

In the image below I describe how technical innovation can appeal both to the elephant and the rider in Me. Each part of Me wants something familiar and logical, otherwise it will be almost impossible to adopt and sustain a desired change. Similarly, IT departments need solutions that leverage the familiar and logical to them, in order to minimize disruptions commonly associated with change.



Nothing could be more familiar to me than using a browser to find what I desire over the Internet. For IT, nothing could be more familiar than HTML/JavaScript and Web-based content and service delivery. These familiar and established tools serve as our starting point. Now, let’s extend these tools and strategies by adding two new capabilities coupled with elements of logic to lead each consumer along a desired action path.

Two items:

  1. A Database of Me. A secure privacy setting inside the browser where my choices and motivators can be changed and shared in real time. These are items meaningful to me and can drive a change in my behavior if presented back to me in the right way.
  2. An Individualized User Interface. One based on familiar navigation menus that can be programmed using HTML, combining server-stored data and data from my Me Database to present, connect, and guide me on my new path, based on the choices I’ve shared.

Remember, change is hard. To guide me along a desired path, the experience must resonate with both the elephant (my emotional side) and the rider (my logical side). It requires something familiar to both Me and IT or we’re creating barriers to change, rather than tearing them down.

We can leverage Web standards — like a browser, but we also need innovation, like programmable menus that can be individualized for Me, the true patient/customer. Connecting me to what I need, when I need it. Menus that reflect not only my needs (logic), but also my choices and personal motivators (emotion).

Choices that guide me along my path, and that can be adjusted, as needed, without confusing me. A single app featuring MY menus — that make the complex task of navigating healthcare simple for me…and every other individual user.

We’ve now appealed to both the Elephant and the Rider. We’ve created an aligned experience that is personal and meaningful to patients/customers – one that can make a difference to your bottom line. An experience I’m more likely to engage with daily, rather than once or twice a year, or worse yet, once and done.

But, our riders fatigue more quickly than our elephants. Most of us need support from our family, friends and community to keep us on our paths when we are tired or scared. Technology can only go so far, without an inclusive engagement strategy. Can we apply its logical connections in new ways to provide even more emotional support and keep Me on my chosen path?

Well, that’s a story for next time…

Posted in: #Choice, #mobile, #privacy, Care Delivery, connected health, Context, digital health, e-health

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