Emphasizing Quality of Life over Longevity

Most individuals are aware of what steps they need to take in order to improve their health. Recent research conducted out of the University of Michigan (Rebranding Exercise: Closing the Gap Between Values and Behavior) finds that messages that encourage individuals to focus on immediate quality of life improvements tend to perform better promoting healthy behavior change than messages that encourage individuals to focus on making changes that contribute to their overall longevity. The thought is that this holds true because, in general, individuals tend to have difficulty making changes that have delayed or abstract rewards. It is easier for us to make changes that produce more timely rewards.

Physical exercise programs typically have both delayed and immediate benefits. Some of the long-term benefits include a decreased risk of serious disease and longer life. Some of the immediate benefits include increased feeling of well-being, decreased stress and improved sleep.

This study authored by Michelle Segar, Jacquelynne Eccles and Caroline Richardson suggests that marketers trying to get individuals to exercise more regularly might have better luck if they emphasize exercise’s ability to decrease stress and elevate mood. Immediate, concrete changes like reduced stress and increased mood are easy for most individuals to visualize, focus on and work towards.

The study’s utility transcends simply being applicable to exercise promotion. All positive lifestyle changes are more likely to occur if the focus is on noticeable short-term benefits rather than abstract, long-term benefits. An example would be a campaign promoting healthy eating habits. The campaign is more likely to be successful if the focus is on how healthy diet promotes increased energy than a focus on the long-term benefits healthy eating has on cardiovascular health. Human beings are not always logical, many of us suffer from the folly of instant gratification.

Organizations seeking to design more effective exercise programs should first spend some time evaluating the probable effectiveness of their messaging. Organizations that have been focusing on messaging that touts the long-term health benefits of exercise – instead of the immediate benefits – may want to consider reformulating the way the value of exercise is communicated to their employees. The University of Michigan study suggests that the more timely and relevant the exercise-related reward is perceived, the more likely it is that members of the target population will make positive changes.

Commenting on her study Michelle Segar suggests that while people claim to be motivated by the possibility of increased long-term health, the appeal of long-term health gains is rarely strong enough to cause lasting behavioral change. Wellness promoters should take note that some benefits of exercise many not be compelling enough to be an effective motivator for healthy behavior change amongst a wide audience.

These findings are not just for marketers and health promoters. Individuals looking to adopt new positive behaviors should spend some time asking themselves about what really motivates them, and perhaps break large health goals into smaller milestones that have appealing, short-term benefits. Effective behavior change is possible; it just has to stem from the right kind of tailored personal motivation. As more research is done on the effectiveness of different forms of motivation and motivational messages, individuals and groups will be better able to promote effective behavioral change.

Fitbug Files Legal Complaint Against Fitbit

In a recent complaint filed against Fitbit, Fitbug claims that Fitbit uses not only a similarly sounding name for their company, but also similar brand imagery and icons. They also claim nutrition-related advice available from Fitbit is almost identical to that offered by Fitbug. The legal action is based on unfair competition as well as trademark infringement and unfair business practices.

Fitbug vs. Fitbit

Fitbug claims the actions and products distributed by Fitbit have created massive confusion among customers, who tend to believe that the products and services of Fitbit are directly connected to Fitbug. Fitbug believes that market confusion is continuing to increase and has grown substantially over the course of the last year. One of facts Fitbug points to is their call center operators have received an increasing amount of inquires from customers concerned about their Fitbit devices. Customers, business partners and the media have started to associate Fitbug with Fitbit – not only do they have similar names, but both companies have very similar trademarks and services. The assertion from Fitbug is this disregard and disrespect of product differentiation on the part of Fitbit has put Fitbug at a disadvantage.

Fitbug has been in business for over 8 years helping people adopt a healthier lifestyle by offering various wellness innovations. Throughout the years Fitbug has managed to make a name for itself in the wellness industry, more prevalent in Europe but a modest and developing presence in the United States as well.

The name “Fitbug” covers not only their online-based services, but also the software package used by their member base to keep track of progress. Fitbug’s lawsuit alleges Fitbit entered the market four years after Fitbug and started distributing similar devices as well as developing similar online services that parallel the offerings of Fitbug. Fitbug believes that users will continue to associate the two companies if Fitbit does not change the way they currently market their brand and their products.

To see some of the similarities between Fitbug vs. Fitbit visit: What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

Personal Health Information Technology – pHIT

The concept of personal health information technology (also know as pHIT) encompasses all modern innovation in personal digital health including but not limited to biometric sensors, electronic health records, advances in genomics,  as well as activity and self-tracking devices.

Various pHIT systems improve self-knowledge as well as communication between users and various health care providers by increasing the ease by which one can store, share and access health information easily.

2013 – The Year of pHIT

This year is the year of personal health information technology. Over the past several years, the tracking and biometric industry has evolved greatly and made several major achievements, including the first FDA approved bio-tracking mechanism on a mobile phone.

Scientists and prominent figured in the field of self-tracking and biometrics are working on new, more accurate and more efficient devices that allow people to track their health information quicker and more effectively. The convergence of expanding ways to gather data about one’s self, advances in genomics, and the growing field of predictive analytics paired with PHR (personal electronic health record) collectives will improve the accuracy of diagnosis, along with the efficacy of the treatment.

In addition to this, converging self-tracking, genomics, predictive data analysis and biometric information with PHRs will redefine the way people see wellness – it will not only allow us to understand our bodies better, but it will also help us find new ways to improve our health status. Furthermore, it will better help us understand the effects of our lifestyle choices. We can begin to build a better “health map” that will allow us to prevent fatal diseases and conditions, based on personal biomarkers and other health information.

Another advantage of pHIT systems is that they considerably reduce paperwork and human error – all information is collected and stored electronically, therefore eliminating the need for records written by hand potentially reducing an avenue for error. Also, in theory, electronic data can be shared more quickly and safer than hand-written files.

Electronic Information and Privacy

Most personal medical information is protected by HIPAA, an act from 1996 that has established clear and severe rules regarding the security of electronic health information. HIPAA was revised in 2009, and now covers health care providers, along with insurance companies and their business associates. Currently there is still a lot of ambiguity about how HIPPA will be applied in evolving world of pHIT.

The Bottom Line

pHIT will undoubtedly evolve quickly but in my humble opinion is a win-win proposition, both for individuals (who get deeper insight into how their body uniquely works), as well as health care providers  who will undoubtedly have an increasing amount of tools, systems, and modalities in which to serve us better in a paradigm shifting away from disease treatment to one of prevention and well-being.