Seduce Health: What A Google Guy and Health IT Exec Are Saying to Put the Spark Back into Your Health Life

[Updated and corrected. 02/08/11 at 12 pm ET] Stern lectures about taking your heart pill as prescribed, eating right, or exercising regularly—or else—can be a real turnoff. Some people simply tune out, perhaps while eating fried chicken sandwiches with extra pickles. But might there be a way to seduce people with medical advice, tailoring the message about how they can be healthier by appealing to their dreams or desires rather than their nightmares?

To get leaders in healthcare to start talking and thinking about ways to spice up communications to patients, Google chief health strategist Roni Zeiger and Alexandra Drane, founder and president of Beverly, MA, medical message service Eliza have started a website called Seduce Health. While this is a nascent effort now, Drane says that she hopes to use it to influence leaders in healthcare to be open to new approaches to talking with patients and perhaps get those people to commit to using such approaches at their organizations to get patient to adopt healthier behaviors. [Drane is founder and president of Eliza, not the firm’s CEO, as she was previously described in this article. We regret the error.]

Healthcare can be a conservative field, in which new ideas and technologies can be slowly adopted, so it’ll be interesting to see whom else Drane and Zeiger can recruit to their new cause.

Seduce Health’s website, which went online in October, has been tackling some hot health topics like how to get people to stop smoking, calling for making quitting just as cool or seductive as starting. And the group has got some playful YouTube clips of high-profile people in healthcare—such as HHS chief technology officer Todd Park and Jamie Heywood, co-founder and chairman of Cambridge, MA-based PatientsLikeMe—delivering what’s evidently the group’s slogan, “Talk health to me, Baby.”

“In my experience as a patient and practicing physician, we tend to talk about health as set of chores and choices framed to avoid poor health, to avoid regret,” Zeiger says in an e-mail. “On the other hand, market forces have helped us evolve sexy and sophisticated messages for everything from socks to scooters. What about immunizations? I think we can make these conversations more fun and more relevant.”

While there have been serious discussions and studies on ways to change patients’ unhealthy behaviors with better communication for years, there’s evidence that the healthcare system has failed miserably at getting through to people. For instance, Americans costs the system about $290 billion per year by not taking their medicines as prescribed, and sometimes landing themselves in the hospital as a result.

Is Seduce Health capable of putting a dent in these costs by advocating for healthcare communications that strike inspirational—or even sexy—chords?

“In the healthcare space, there have certainly historically been some examples of a lack of information, but for the most part it’s been a lack of inspiration,” says Seduce Health co-founder … Next Page »

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4 responses to “Seduce Health: What A Google Guy and Health IT Exec Are Saying to Put the Spark Back into Your Health Life”

  1. Getting people to do anything is a difficult task unless they are motivated to do so. The whole motivational industry exists because change is hard for many people and people often need to be psyched up in order to make changes in their lives. Even with such motivation, in many cases, interest fades unless people see immediate benefits or develop an internal drive that sustains them.

    That said, building applications that provide that shot of motivation regularly do have potential for improving health amongst those who will respond to external motivation.

  2. Sophia Shevitz says:

    Sophia Shevitz