About This Blog


Sherri Dorfman, CEO, Stepping Stone Partners, Connected & Digital Health Innovation Specialist

My blog is designed to spotlight healthcare organizations with innovative uses of technology & data to drive Care Coordination, Collaboration & Patient Engagement.

These new approaches may influence your product & service roadmap, experiences, partnerships and marketing strategies.


While consulting, I leverage my extensive experience, knowledge and professional network to help companies make the right strategic product and marketing decisions. Services include:

> Strategic Planning Market Review: Competitive Assessments, Partnership Evaluations. Workshop facilitation. Insight drives product, partnership and marketing strategies

> Product Roadmap & Consumer Experience Planning: Conceptualizes, defines and validates solutions/experiences through Marketing Research and journey mapping.  Utilizes new innovative online and mobile research tools to co-create with target buyers and users, gathering input while understanding context to guide the development of personalized solutions & experiences.

> Strategic Product Marketing: Differentiated value proposition story incorporated into marketing & sales assets

Find out how I can help you. Call me at 508-655-6585. Email me at SDorfman@Stepping-Stone.net to set up an exploratory discussion.

Follow me on Twitter @SherriDorfman





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    Recent Posts

    Entries in health and wellness data aggregator (3)

    Deja Vu. Data- Driven Retail Strategies, For Health Care This Time

    Health care companies today are following in the footsteps of the retail-oriented, information based financial services industry.

    What financial services companies have discovered is that in order to build their business, they must build a personal relationship with the consumer.  They accomplished this by creating a consumer-centric database, monitoring shopping behavior through reporting and analytics, motivating activity through multi-channel communications and launching a loyalty program to reward consumer spending,

    I was part of this customer-centric transformation as the Director of Database Marketing at GE Capital, which provides private label credit card programs for Disney and Apple, to name a few marquee brands. My cross- functional team started with the consumer in mind. We envisioned the experience that our retailer customers needed to deliver to their consumer card holders to differentiate themselves in the marketplace and capture a larger mind share and business share.

    This is the same path that health care companies are marching down to get ready for new customers.

    Consumers Are Coming!  Health Care Companies Invest in Retail Strategies 

    In their report on “The Era of the Health care Consumer,”  Accenture describes the shift in responsibility from the employers to the consumers and the resulting health care company investment changes from BTB to BTC. Accenture cites the opportunity to learn from the retail sector, especially the segmentation, profiling, loyalty and cross channel communications.

    A few health care organizations are making the needed investments to move closer to the consumer in order to better understand their needs for information and tools to support health management.  Aetna, for example, has partnered with Best Buy to sell wellness programs to consumers within the retail store and deliver their wellness coaching program online. In addition to store fronts, Florida Blue (previously BCBS Florida) has invested in their Guidewell online initiative to build a relationship with consumers beyond their member base.

    Most health care companies, however, are still trying to figure out where to begin.

    Barriers for Data-Driven Retail Health Care

    There are several key barriers that Health care companies must overcome in order to effectively engage these retail consumers. 

    • Knowledge about the New Consumer: Health care companies have limited or no information about their newest customer that is either considering their health product/service or has just come onboard. As a result, the interaction can feel less satisfying.  Using best practices from the financial industry, health care organizations can utilize segmentation and profiling to deliver a more personalized experience while gathering knowledge about the consumer through each touch. 
    • Knowledge about Consumers' Data Needs: During their recent research, IDC Health Insights learned that “despite large investments meant to extend the organizations’ consumer-centric model, health plans know little about how consumers want to consume information…”.  Financial Services companies remain aligned with their customers by inviting them to participate in their own private branded online research community. The company captures consumer input and feedback on their product road map and new marketing initiatives.
    • Knowledge about Proactive & Personalized Communications: Many health care organizations wait for consumers to come to their online marketing destinations including their website and social media and then wait for them to return. Although these companies maybe have tools in place to capture the contact information of interested consumers, they tend to send out the same information to everyone. Financial Services companies segment these target consumers and stream content of interest across their preferred communication channels to bring them back and engage. 
    • Knowledge about Developing a Personalized Incentive Program: One way that health care companies can differentiate themselves is with an incentive program that rewards a consumer for healthy lifestyle behaviors that fit her profile. One of the reasons that some credit card loyalty programs (e.g. American Express) are so effective is that they target personalized offers based on each consumer’s spending behavior profile.  

    Health care companies can learn from the leaders in the Financial Services industry about how to leverage technology to build a retail consumer relationship through ongoing personalized communications and programs which are aligned with the consumer’s ongoing data needs. 

    Seven Mobile Health Engagers

    We see it every day and everywhere. Consumers are engaged with their mobile phones at restaurants, at the gym, by the pool, in parked cars and in the hallway outside of the doctor’s office. They have a strong need to stay connected and use every free moment to review and respond to messages as well as access online information through their mobile phones.

    Over the past 6 months, I have heard health care providers, health plans, health care technology companies and employers express strong interest in reaching, engaging and influencing consumers through mobile health applications. Although mobile committees have been formed, most are in the beginning stages of identifying and prioritizing the applications that they will develop and deliver to consumers.

    Seven Mobile Health Engagers:

    Here are seven key capabilities that companies will want to build into their mobile health applications:

    1. Guiding Sending personalized alerts and reminders for motivating specific actions such as taking medications, testing blood sugar levels or participating in healthy behaviors (e.g. lunch time walk with co-workers).

    Consumer perspective: What do I need to do to meet my health needs and goals?

    2. Educating- Providing access to a customized set of health information, pushing informational tips based on needs, interests and profile and testing health information knowledge.

    Consumer perspective: How can you make learning about my health fun, personalized and easy to understand?

    3. Encouraging- Delivering support messages from my social network, clinician and health coach.

    Consumer perspective: How can you support me in reaching my health goals at the right time?

    4. Consulting- Enabling access to a live discussion with my clinician, health coach or mother’s caregiver.

    Consumer perspective: How can you connect me with experts for real time communication and collaboration?

    5. Monitoring- Capturing and viewing information about my mood, pain levels, symptoms, activity levels, diet and sleep.

    Consumer perspective: How can you help me aggregate and organize all of my health information so that I can see patterns to experience “aha moments”?

    6. Deciding-  Accessing a decision support tool about my treatment options or viewing my PHR with links to relevant and "in context" content.

    Consumer perspective: How can I make better decisions by combining my own information with trusted expert sources and accessing this wherever I am?

    7. Managing- Delivering customized messages to help me effectively plan and respond to our health care needs.

    Consumer perspective: How can I change from being reactive to becoming proactive about my health and the health of my family?

    Generating Your Mobile Health Momentum…

    How can you define and design these mobile applications to be most valuable to your target consumers?  Unlike many of the mini-applications that consumers can buy in online stores, you have an opportunity to connect these capabilities such as “monitoring” and “deciding” so that consumers can not only track their activity but also make decisions with the patterns of data that emerge.  

    Think about how you can use “personalization” with your mobile health applications to motivate consumers to stay engaged in their health. How can you help consumers use their mobile phone to communicate and collaborate with their support network and caregivers for better health outcomes?

    How far along are you with your mobile health strategies? Have you selected your priority consumer segments? Have you conducted research to deeply understand their needs, mobile behaviors and attitudes? Have you conceptualized, defined and validated a solution for each segment? Are you ready to pilot the solution with the target segment? Have you defined your measurements for success?

    With experience and industry knowledge in the mobile health space, how I can help you move your mobile initiatives forward?

    Read more about my mobile health technology expertise.

    Follow the “Value” Brick Road for Engagement

    Since returning from the Healthcare Unbound Conference in San Diego earlier this week, I have been asked  what has changed in the past year.

    In his opening remarks, my colleague Vince Kuraitis, Principal of Better Health Technologies talked about the progress we’ve made with the technologies and experimenting with different business models, but the focus now is on the “value network”.

    Steps Along the “Value” Brick Road

    During the conference, one clear theme was that value is determined by the recipient and can be used to attract and engage consumers.

    How can your organization create and lead with value? Here are the key steps which begin by identifying…

    Step 1)     Who?

    Consider how much your organization deeply understands the needs and behaviors of your target audience (Notice that I did not say understands the consumer’s feedback on your offering). This perspective is essential before you can define, develop and deliver value which is compelling to your target consumers.

    Many companies use segmentation to focus in different groups of consumers and understand what each group values.

    Several speakers mentioned segmenting the senior market. After all, the active 68 year old male is not the same as the 78 year old male trying to manage his health and the health of his 98 year old mother who happens to live three states away.

    Within the corporate wellness market, we heard that employees have different motivations. Some employees are eager to participate in a company- wide competition tracking their activity weekdays and weekends, while others are interested in socializing at lunch time with their Walking Group. Employers have an opportunity to offer a set of programs with online tools to meet the needs of these different employee segments.

    Step 2)  What?

    After understanding the different segments of your target audience, it is important to think about ways you can bring value to each of them.

    Liz Boehm, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, discussed the “Four Pillars of Aging in Place” which included health, safety, connectivity (e.g. friends. family and community) and contribution (e.g. meaning/purpose).

    Most companies in the senior market focus on health and safety, which happens to be the “stuff that people wish they did not have to think about”. Through research, Forrester has learned that the other two areas, to be connected and to contribute, are actually the “stuff that people want”.  These are two areas can be used to engage seniors in a way that is meaningful to them. Is this the consumer’s desire for “meaningful use”?

    Step 3)  How?

    Gordon Norman, Chief Innovation Officer at Alere challenged us with “Now that the we’ve unbound healthcare, who will put it back together?”

    Think about the value network and the role that your company can play.

    You may choose to partner to meet all of the needs of your target audience. With technology standards in place, you can design your product to connect in with a larger solution.  

    Or you can lead the way and take on the “aggregator” role, building a hub to service the consumer/member/employee/patient. By becoming the aggregator, your company has an opportunity to deliver more value through data and analytics. Consider the holistic view that you can share, enabling your users to make better decisions.

    I will leave you with two questions to consider. Where is your company on the “value” brick road? How far are you willing to go?