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 health and wellness texting (14)

    Geisinger’s mHealth Journey Down the Patient Engagement Path

    Geisinger Health System launched its patient portal (MyGeisinger®) mobile app called MyChart, back in 2011. MyChart enables patients to use their smart phone to view medical information (i.e. meds, allergies, immunizations, test results, current health issues), communicate with the care team, view appointments and receive health reminders.

    Following the MyChart app, Geisinger accelerated its mobile initiatives with text messaging pilots and a cardiac mobile app pilot. The mHealth team at Geisinger continues to learn how patient engagement can be increased by leveraging electronic health information to improve access, collaboration and care guidance. 

    Mobile Patient Data Capture

    One of Geisinger’s key mhealth projects entails the electronic capture of patient reported data. “We’re using a third party tool to gather information from our asthma patients about how effectively they are managing their condition. Patients answer the five to seven question asthma control survey on their computer or mobile phone. So far, 13% of our patients are using their smartphone to respond and we expect that percent to grow”, explains Chanin Wendling, Director eHealth at Geisinger. Patients with a poor asthma control test score, indicating that their asthma may not be under control, receive an intervention call from a nurse who will help them better manage their condition. “This used to be a paper based survey which made it impossible to provide needed clinical support. Now that it is electronic, the survey can be delivered outside of the clinic and alerts can be sent to the clinician to catch problems before the patient ends up in the ER”, describes Wendling. “With this technology, we are able to check in more often with the patient. We have implemented the national best practice to have persistent asthmatic patients complete the survey every 90 days.”

    Geisinger is also using mobile electronic capture to identify patients with potential health problems. When checking in for their doctors’ appointment, patients are handed an iPad to enter their health information while in the waiting room. Patients are prompted to answer certain personalized questions based on their health profile. For example, patients 65 and over with a chronic condition receive depression screening questions. “We capture and integrate the patients’ responses into their EMR so that their care team can quickly address specific needs and concerns”, adds Wendling.

    Three Mobile Texting Pilots

    In six short months, Geisinger has planned and launched three text messaging pilot initiatives. Geisinger will be using the findings to expand and refine the project or move onto a new mobile texting opportunity.

    Last September, Geisinger started with appointment reminders to 4,000 enrolled patients total across two services areas; Pediatrics and Women’s Health. “We are currently evaluating this pilot based on the reminder’s impact on the ‘no show rate’ and more importantly on patient satisfaction. Based on the results, we plan to ask patients if they would like to receive a reminder in the future”, Wendling explains.

    In September, Gesinger also launched a medication reminder texting campaign in collaboration with Geisinger Health Plan. Less than 50 patients enrolled to receive the daily text. “We expected more patients to sign up and experienced a high opt- out rate from those patient who enrolled. We learned that the daily text with a simple message to take their medication was too frequent so we are reevaluating the program. We may use the text reminders for medications which are taken less often such as once a week or month”, shares Wendling. “We are also questioning if the text message alone is enough or can we deliver more value using a set of messages for the broader disease?”

    In November, Geisinger began using text messaging to support an existing program, “Conservative Weight Loss”. During this12 -week program, 240 patients enrolled to receive three texts per week; a reminder to weigh in, an educational and a motivational message. To evaluate this text message program, Geisinger will be reviewing patient satisfaction rates and weight loss results.

    Conservative Weight Loss Program: Text messages Week 1

    >Monday (nutrition) 
    “Take smaller bites and chew longer to savor food. Also eat slowly:it takes your brain   20 minutes to let your stomach know there is food in it. Text HELP 4help”
    >Wednesday (self-monitoring)
    “Think before you eat! Keeping food logs will help you with this. Keep honest, accurate food logs daily! Text HELP 4help”

    >Friday (motivation)
    “Reward yourself along the way with non-food rewards. Buy a smaller dress or a new pair of shoes, or take yourself out to see a movie. Text HELP 4help”

    When texting for HELP, the patient receives a text response with the phone numbers for technical assistance and clinical assistance.  “We do not yet have the option for the patient to text a question to the provider and then have the provider text or call them back. The first attempt at that will likely be a medication program with our Pharmacy team. There are a lot of operational and support issues that we have to figure out first”, explains Wendling. 

    Cardiac Mobile App Pilot 

    During the last few weeks, Geisinger has started testing a mobile Cardiac Rehab app internally to monitor the clinical data to decide whether to pursue a12- week patient pilot. The Cardiac mHealth application is designed to guide and support the patient throughout recovery. Within the cardiac app, patients can access educational information, receive medication reminders, track activity through their smartphone and provide feedback to their care team about any concerns. “Our patients in Cardiac Rehab are onsite three days a week. This is too much for many patients. During the pilot, we want to see if we can use technology to support their participation in Cardiac Rehab Program without the extensive onsite requirement throughout the 12 weeks”, Wendling explains. 

    Future Mobile Health 

    Geisinger is exploring ways to bring mobile health to different parts of its provider and payer organizations to drive patient engagement. This innovative health system is most interested in mobile health initiatives that strengthen the patient – provider relationship through the capture and sharing of information and tools to support better care decisions.

    In addition to expanding texting programs, Geisinger is developing a mobile app strategy and will likely target apps around chronic disease management, health and wellness and the patient experience.  In the area of chronic disease management, Geisinger is currently looking at an asthma app to connect in with care in their Pulmonary department. The app would help patients with reminders, tracking symptoms, alerts when at risk for an attack and general information about their condition.  Discussions are taking place with clinical leaders on other conditions where an app may help with patient care.  

    “At Geisinger, we are always exploring new ways to better personalize care and empower patients.  mHealth can do both, but it is not an add on.  It is a complete reengineering of the health system and we are only beginning to scratch the surface of the potential for it to bring healthcare and wellness to the patient”, shares Dr Steven Steinhubl, Director of Cardiovascular Wellness at Geisinger. 

    UnitedHealth Group Integrates Multiple Mobile Apps for Holistic Self Management & Coaching 

    Health Plans are finding new ways to bring value to consumers by empowering them with tools and guidance to manage their health while on the go.

    At many conferences, health plans present their newest mobile application or texting campaign to engage consumers.

    UnitedHealth Group announced their latest move at the recent Consumer Electronics Show to integrate several mobile health applications into their OptumizeMe solution, through partnerships with CareSpeak Communications, FitNow and FitBit. UnitedHealth is integrating content and tools to bring new capabilities to both consumers and caregivers.

    Through the CareSpeak Communications’ partnership, consumers sign up to receive two-way texts to help them manage their medication and condition. UnitedHealth delivers CareSpeak’s personalized messaging to provide relevant content to each consumer segment ( e.g. asthma, diabetes, cancer, etc). A patient with diabetes opts in to receive customized education and reminder messages and can give a caregiver permission to monitor her health. The patient’s clinician is also kept in the loop with medication and condition management data to discuss during patient interactions. Patients are further engaged by receiving text based educational quizzes and viewing online reporting showing their effectiveness in managing their medication and condition over time.

    With the integration of FitNow’s Lose It! mobile app, consumers can better manage their weight through fitness and food tracking tools, educational nutrition information, motivational reminders and social peer support.

    From the FitBit integration, consumers automatically track their physical activity instead of having to key it in. Since this activity data is no longer self reported, UnitedHealth Group can use validated information to drive their rewards program. The FitBit app also tracks the consumer’s sleeping behavior for a more complete view of their health.

    Integration Delivers Insight

    UnitedHealth Group has invested in this set of mobile technologies to capture and connect multiple sources of data for a holistic view covering the consumer’s physical activity, dietary behavior, medication adherence, biometric and mood information.

    “With these partnerships in place, we are connecting all the pieces of data across our platform for a common view for the consumer to self manage and share with their coach while creating a personalized experience”, explains Nick Martin, VP Innovation and R&D, UnitedHealth Group.

    This supports the trend for “integrated end to end health to care solutions” where technology connects with care management platforms and programs, as noted by IDC Health Insights’ analyst Janice Young.

    Coach/CareGiver & Consumer Collaboration

    Nick Martin describes how the OptumizeMe application is being used by the consumer with their coach.  “Let’s say you are trying to lose weight. Your coach can push messages to your mobile which are educational and supportive. And if you give your coach permission, she can see your tracked physical activity”.  Think about how much more motivated and accountable the consumer will feel when her coach is monitoring and responding to her daily progress.  On the health side, the asthma patient can give access to her caregiver to monitor and address medication compliance issues. Her caregiver can also send encouraging and educational messages between visits.

    UnitedHealth’s partnerships deliver new capabilities to their OptumizeMe mobile app giving consumers a new way to remain in close contact with their coach and to self manage with the social support from caregivers. With the power of the personalized information pushed and pulled from the consumer’s mobile phone, UnitedHealth Group can successfully generate both stronger consumer engagement and better health outcomes.

    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.

    Evolving Web Based and Mobile Tools to Engage Consumers in the Shared Decision Making Process


    World Congress Leadership Summit on Shared Decision Making

    September 23, 2011

    Panel Session:

  • Piloting and evaluating SDM tools in the Patient Centered Medical Home to drive physician- patient collaboration for better outcomes
  • Testing an online platform for shared decision making with health coaches across different consumer segments and conditions for ongoing behavior change
  • Designing an integrated experience as consumers use SDM tools across multiple channels and multiple care touches
  • Leveraging a mobile decision support tool to effectively educate consumers and enable them to evaluate their care options while on the go.


    Sherri Dorfman, MBA, Chief Executive Officer, Stepping Stone Partners


    • Mark L. Robitaille, MBA, Head of Care Management Support & Engagement, Aetna
    • Changrong Ji, Senior Solutions Architect, CareFirst BCBS (Mobile strategy)
    • Zev Lavon, PHD, Director Solution Architecture, CareFirst BCBS (Web strategy)
    • James J. Mis, MBA, Communications Manager, Health Care Services, Independent Health


    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?