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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    Entries in mobile engagement for teens (4)

    I Wish for Mobile Health.....

    My wish list grew as I researched how companies were using mobile to generate engagement in consumer- driven industries such as financial services, retail, travel and entertainment.

    As I prepared for my Mobile Workshop at World Congress’s Product Innovation Conference, I identified, evaluated and selected mobile applications to inspire the workshop participants with their mobile health strategies.  Each mobile application was chosen because it cleverly incorporated key engagement capabilities.  Some mobile examples were designed to engage short term while others were intended to sustain engagement over the long run.

    During the workshop, I presented more than a dozen selected examples which I organized into four groups based on how they engage consumers. Let me share one example from each group with you.

    1)     Life Management

    Companies are creating mobile applications that help consumers get things done while on the go.

    Example: Omnego launched a “Go Travel Wallet” application which enables consumers to load and access their travel documents including digital pictures of their passport and insurance documents. Consumers plan their travel by using all of their travel information such as rewards programs, credit cards and travel providers. They save money with the merchant coupons that are placed in their mobile wallet from social media, QR codes (scanned), emails and texts.

    2)     Information Access

    By placing QR codes on their promotional materials, companies are grabbing the attention of their customers and offering them access to special content in return.

    Example: For an upcoming movie, Fox Spotlight has splashed QR codes across their marketing materials distributed or placed (posters) around the community, all ready to be scanned to access exclusive content.

    3)     Social Community & Commerce

    Businesses are realizing the power of using mobile to tap into the social networks of their customers.

    Example: Amazon’s Back to School mobile application is targeted to the student segment. Students can buy and sell text books, access exclusive deals and share their “finds” with their social network.

    4)     Social Gaming

    While playing a social game through a mobile application, consumers interact virtually with the company’s brand and are driven into the business’s physical locations.

    Example: New Balance gets their customers moving in the community collecting “virtual batons” which can be redeemed in their stores for rewards, These batons appear on the consumer’s mobile phone by using GPS and maps. Consumers are motivated to visit the store quickly since the virtual baton can be stolen by others playing the game.

    Mobile Insight & Guidance

    During our workshop, my colleague Ahmed Albaiti, CEO of Medullan shared technology and consumer demand trends. After sharing a framework and guidelines for the interactive game, we split our workshop participants into teams.

    Ahmed and I worked closely with our team as they defined their target users, thought through their needs and current resources to support them and then conceptualized a mobile application.  

    As I observed my group, I noticed that it was easy for them to suggest mobile capabilities from health applications already on the market but I had to continuously challenge them to incorporate innovative ideas from other consumer industries. My role was to help my team see how these innovative examples can be applied to healthcare to meet their business objectives.

    It was exciting to watch the teams describe their wish for a mobile application designed for their target consumers.

    Imagine a mobile workshop for your company, where all of your internal stakeholders are focusing on the users, identifying their own wish list and defining capabilities to truly engage these consumers.

    Personalizing the Mobile Experience to Drive Consumer eHealth Engagement

    At the recent World Congress mHealth Summit, I led a panel called “Personalizing the Mobile Experience to Drive Consumer Engagement”.

    Why is mobile so important and why does it need to be incorporated into all consumer health & wellness engagement strategies?

    Pew Research’s May report found that “83% of US adults have a cell phone, and 42% of them own a smart phone”.  As mobile phone ownership grows so does the consumers’ expectations about using this device to plan, manage and monitor their personal lives. Consumer- driven companies across financial services, retail, media and entertainment are designing creative ways to engage the consumer through a valuable mobile experience.

    Within healthcare, mobile is a cost effective and efficient way to not only generate but also sustain consumer engagement.

    Here are several strategic considerations that I presented while introducing the panel topic.

    1. Segmentation & Customization. Once a company moves beyond enabling mobile access for all target users, they must think carefully about the varying needs and mobile usage profiles of their different consumer segments. Consider consumer segments which have high mobile technology usage.

    Pew Research found that over 87% of minorities such as African Americans and Hispanics have mobile phones and they are more likely than whites to send/receive text messages, use the internet on their mobile phones and have smart phones. What about a mobile texting program educating them about their health condition or motivating them to engage in preventative care?

    Frequent business travelers stay connected to their company, customers and family through their mobile phones and tablets. A recent Columbia University study showed the association of business travel and cardiovascular disease. According to the study, this may be caused by their poor diet, lack of exercise and sleep as well as stress. Imagine how mobile can be used to help these travelers manage their health issues and make better decisions while on the road.

    Over 75% of teens have a mobile phone and more than half are texting every day based on Pew research. Can you send mobile messages to teens to educate them about staying fit or informing them about ways to manage their diabetes? There is also opportunity on the mobile apps front.  I recently participated on a project envisioning mobile solutions to support the mental health of (college) students to avoid depression.

    How is Highmark approaching segmentation? Highmark utilizes Forrester’s Technograph Segmentation to prioritize their mobile initiatives. Panelist Lisa Fitting, Director Client Engagement mentioned that when Highmark conducted segmentation research across their member base, two key segments emerged-- “Connectors who use their mobile phone for work and are productivity- oriented” and “Communicators who regularly use SMS” and often use other digital communications. Highmark is using this insight to define mobile initiatives based on these preferences. They also plan to come out with mobile applications targeting specific needs such as “fitness, weight management, diabetes, medication”.

    2. Multi-Channel Experience. As consumers move about their daily life, they move from channel to channel. Teens put down their mobile phones when they pull out their laptop computers. When they are through interacting via their computer, it is important that their next mobile interaction reflect their latest online activities.

    Humana conducts user experience research to better understand how different types of users interact with their Humana Fit application through their mobile phones and computers. Panelist Tony Tomazic, Director of Consumer Innovation at Humana explains “we understand the strengths of mobile. Through research, we have learned how consumers want to use their mobile phone for tracking and communications regarding personal health and fitness (e.g. saving episodes of activity, receiving reminders and alerts), whereas consumers prefer to use their computers to manage more complex and visual planning of their goals and gather information from their other external devices.”

    3. Personalization in Context. While carrying their mobile devices, consumers can use them to receive reminders, review educational messages, track information (e.g. mood, pain levels, fitness and nutrition) as well as search for information to make decisions while on the go.

    "Healthline brings both personalization and contextualization to the consumer", explains panelist Ryan Tarzy, VP Business Development. “Aetna members view search results that are both contextual to the issue they are researching (e.g. diabetes), but also personalized based upon their personal health record, location, and covered benefits”.

    As you develop your mobile health and wellness strategy, think about the needs of your various consumer segments and their mobile technology profiles. Consider their multi-channel experience of which mobile is only a part. And determine how you can design a mobile strategy which brings new value to the consumer through personalization within the context of their current health, plan coverage and location.

    Have you read the Seven Mobile Health Engagers?

    SPF Stalker & Healthy Check-ins; Social Media Interventions Designed By & For Students


    During my Healthcare Unbound Panel on “New Models in Social Media”, Kendra Markle from the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab shared interesting examples of students designing their own social media interventions.  

    While co-creating with a consumer segment, you can design applications they value which leverage their relationships with their own social network and influence both personal and group behaviors.

    Our Interview:

    Sherri (Stepping Stone Partners): Tell me about how students define their own interventions. For example with SPF Stalker, what is the goal and how did students participate in this innovation process?

    Kendra (Standford Persuasive Technology Lab):This project was created by some ingenious students as part of a class on habit formation taught by BJ Fogg, Director of the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab. The project goal was to use technology to motivate people to wear sunscreen every day.

    Students came up with this great idea to photoshop pictures of SFP chapstick into photos of famous people and photos they took of each other as a humorous way to remind each other about wearing SPF chapstick. By tagging their friends in the photos posted to Facebook, each friend gets an irresistible email from Facebook saying "you've been tagged! Click this link to see the photo".  The response rates for click throughs on Facebook tagging emails is unbelievably high.

    Sherri: What are the comments that students have shared about SPF Stalker? Why do they want to use it with their friends?

    Kendra: This intervention was designed to be funny, which made the photos memorable enough to share with friends, thereby recruiting even more people into the intervention without them realizing it. We call this a stealth tactic - when people start engaging in healthier behavior without being explicitly told they're participating in a "health" app.

    Sherri:  What is the goal for the Healthy Check-ins project that you presented?

    Kendra: The healthy check- ins project is also a stealth project, that's just our internal name for it. Our goal for the healthy check ins project is to combine the element of checking in with target health behaviors such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, eating less meat or biking to work instead of driving. By checking in, many people feel some validation of their behavior, or feel they get credit for doing it by reporting it. We combined this urge with the fun of unrealistically awesome achievements from the game world to produce an experience that rewards you with virtual goods and powers that help you in the game world for indulging in the urge to check in your real behaviors. The motivation you feel to level up in the game layer can be translated into motivation to complete healthy behaviors just so that you can check them in.

    Sherri: How do students feel the Healthy Check-ins will help them and their friends become more healthy (e.g. what is the value that students see?)   

    Kendra: So far, the students are excited about this project because it's something that they think they would use and could picture themselves getting a little addicted to. Since college aged kids want to do everything with their friends, we're working on making this intervention a social experience, one that requires use of both reciprocity and vengeance to advance. These are two behaviors that are believed to have evolved to encourage us to cooperate with each other. Cooperation is a very strong intrinsic motivator, as is competition, especially when both are used together.

    Sherri: Since “location based services” (Foursquare like) are so popular, how have the students envisioned the connection between this capability and healthy locations for check-ins?

    Kendra: We've expanded beyond location check ins to behavior check ins. Why is everyone feeling limited to location check ins? GPS technology provide convenient proof of presence at a location that can translate into monetary value but there are many other things that can be easily proved when using a mobile phone. It just takes some creativity. Students have come up with a whole bunch of target behaviors and creative ways to prove they're engaging in them, all while in stealth mode so the user never feels like they're supposed to be "getting healthy" while using the app. 

    Successfully Engaging Teens Through Mobile For Better Health

    Over the weekend I had dinner with close friends who told me about their teenage daughter and her sleepover with few girl friends. “All three of the girls had their cell phones lined up and plugged in a charging side by side on the night table”.  Even when they are sleeping, teens keep their cell phones close by.  While awake, these “digital natives” are continuously connected which provides opportunities for reaching and engaging teens in their health. 

    Strong Statistics on Teen Mobile Usage

    In Pew’s latest study of 12- 17 years old teens, there are interesting insights about teen's use of mobile technologies:

    Teens Have Mobile Phones. “Three-quarters (75%) of teens now have a cell phone”.

    Teens Texting for Connection. “Fully 72% of all teens – or 88% of teen cell phone users — are text-messages. That is a sharp rise from the 51% of teens who were texters in 2006.” 

    Teens Texting Daily. Each day, 54% of teens text compared with 25% using social networking sites.

    Girls Texting Much More. Teenage girls tend to send and receive more texts each day, 80 compared with 30 for boys.

    - Minority Teens Use Mobile for Internet Access. “44% of black teens and 35% of Hispanic teens use their cell phones to go online, compared with 21% of white teens”.

    Influencing the Health of Mobile Teens

    Organizations have been researching and piloting programs to learn how to impact the teen’s health behaviors for better outcomes.

    After a successful pilot, the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) with the Telstra Foundation rolled out a program for teens (and young adults) that uses mobile to monitor their mental health including stress levels, coping strategies, dietary and fitness factors.

    The NY Times reports that Mount Sinai Hospital has researched and learned that sending text messages to young liver transplant patients can improve their medication adherence and “avoid life-threatening complications”.

    Partner’s Center for Connected Health recently ran a pilot with pregnant teens with the goal of using mobile for outreach. OB Case management sent SMS text messages about proper pre-natal care and regiments. These messages were educational and prompted the teens to take an action such as attend an office visit. “We learned that the texting strengthened the relationship- 83% reported feeling more supported by the health center case manager”, explains Alex Pelletier, Team Lead, Program and Product Development at Partners. More about this pilot from Alex on my upcoming World Congress panel, Generating Mobile Engagement Through Consumer Segmentation, Crowd Sourcing and Personalization. 

    Future Mobile Teen Projects:

    The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently granted $2.4M to mobile health project including one from the San Francisco State University – San Francisco, California targeting teens from low-income backgrounds who experience much higher rates of obesity. To help these teens manage their obesity and depression, the University will evaluate the capturing of observations of daily living (ODLs) through smart phones and sharing of the data with their care team for planning and care management.

    Teens are dealing with many different health issues while on the go managing their busy lives. Their health concerns span their physical and mental health which may include juvenile diabetes, obesity, asthma, sexual health problems and even autism.

    How is your organization targeting this segment of “digital natives” around health? How are you leveraging mobile technologies to reach, influence and impact them to have healthier bodies and minds?