Foursquare for health?

Frog Design asks: “So, what if we could create a similar check-in and reward system (i.e. a game) to amplify other kinds of messaging – particularly health support messaging?”

Robert Fabricant writes:

This is not an idle question: the entire health and wellness industry has been chasing this dream for years. I can’t tell you how many meetings I have had with healthcare executives on this topic. In each case they assure me that they know exactly what to “tell” people to improve their health – but the problem is that no one is listening! In the meantime chronic issues like diabetes are ballooning among young people. Engagement with health support programs in areas like weight loss are abysmal – even when “consumers” are given real financial rewards for sticking with the program.

So what would a “Foursquare for health” look like and how could it help you this year?

Fabricant says it takes four elements:

  1. Build on existing behavior
  2. Feedback at all times
  3. Make it fun
  4. Don’t be the expert

There are a number of people trying to create a health improvement social tool. It’s only a matter of time before someone does. Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, etc. have built incredible social tools in no time at all. 

I think the killer feature, though, will be integration into existing platforms. Time and again the latest and greatest social platform proves it can build a worthy user group. But I wonder about platform fatigue–how many tools are people willing to check-in to? Maybe it’s limitless–but talk to any healthcare provider and they’ll tell you how difficult it is to get people to change their behavior. Given the traditional difficulty of getting people to focus on their health, does an additional check-in prevent widespread adoption?

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