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 location based services (5)

    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.

    Multi-Channel, Multi-Touch Approach to Maximize Member Engagement

    Innovative health plans are experimenting with an expanding set of marketing channels to motivate members including mobile and social media. They are getting smarter about synchronizing these touches for maximum member response.

    In addition to staying aligned with their members’ evolving needs, Plans must reach members where they are, in a way that is ‘meaningful’ to that member to motivate healthy outcomes.

    During this moderated panel discussion, you will learn how Plans are:

    • Understanding the consumer’s changing behavior in this social and economic environment
    • Synchronizing their segmentation and personalization strategies across the communication channels
    • Testing new media and mobile approaches to build member loyalty
    • Delivering consumer education to address member confusion with plan and care options

    Moderated by Sherri Dorfman, CEO & Consumer eHealth Engagement Specialist, Stepping Stone Partners


    • Molly Goins-Cox, Head of Member Experience, Aetna
    • Kevin Riley, VP of Innovation and Consumer Health Solutions Group, BCBS of Florida
    • Mark Scrimshire, Director of Internet Channel Strategy, CareFirst BCBS

    UnitedHealth Group Launches OptumizeMe Mobile App to Motivate Healthy Behaviors

    During my panel at the World Congress mHealth Summit in July, Bud Flagstad, VP Strategic Initiatives at UnitedHealth Group mentioned their upcoming mobile app which is designed for healthy challenges.

    OptumHealth, a business unit of UnitedHealth Group, has just launched the free OptumizeMe app for Windows Phone 7 devices, which will be followed by Android and iPhone platforms in 2011. OptumizeMe is a unique health and fitness app designed to make health both fun and social.

    The idea of challenges and trackers was tested with UnitedHealth employees last summer. UnitedHealth found that the challenge participants tended to meet and exceed their fitness goals faster.

    With OptumizeMe, you can create challenges and invite others in your social circle to participate. If you are planning a run challenge in Central Park, you can extend your invitation to others in the geography who then opt in to join you. You can use a map to show the location of your event and to check out other events in the area. You can also send motivational messages to your friends and family around the challenge and post your progress to Facebook. Others can respond with a “thumbs up” or a “butt kick” to move you closer to your fitness goal.

    Once you complete your first Challenge, you receive your first virtual trophy, a Pioneer badge. Some badges are won based on your efforts and others are a surprise which keeps fitness fun.

    In addition to social challenges, you can use OptumizeMe to manage your personal challenges such as training for a marathon or accelerating your physical activity during the holidays. Think about how you would use the OptumizeMe app. What personal challenges and social challenges would you choose to manage?

    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. 

    Humana’s New Mobile Health Applications Are Designed to Engage and Entertain Consumers 

    Have you seen the latest mobile offerings that Humana has brought to the market? Actually, they are in the mobile  “health entertainment” space.
    Let me share my conversation with Julie Kling, from Humana's mobile strategy group to shed more light on the direction of their mobile health applications. 
    Sherri (Stepping Stone Partners):Just last week, Humana launched a new mobile health app called GoldWalker. Why is Humana interested in bringing mobile health applications to the market?
    Julie (Humana): Humana is particularly interested in developing mobile health applications that enhance the consumer’s physical and emotional wellbeing.
    Our latest mobile health game, GoldWalker, is designed to get people walking and exercising. In fact, my activity level which is measured by an accelerometer embedded in the iPhone moves me through this Gold Mine adventure where I find gold and fend off bandits. GoldWalker connects physical activity with game play.
    Sherri: Last month, Humana introduced Hands2gether. What was the thinking behind this mobile health application?
    Julie: Hands2gether was created to improve a person’s emotional wellbeing. You simply clap your hand with your iPhone to register your mood. The more you clap, the happier you are on the smile scale. By sending this to a friend, you not only spread happiness but also make yourself feel better.
    Sherri: The buzz around most mobile conferences is around “location based services” such as Foursquare. How is Humana considering leveraging these types of mobile services?
    Julie: This is an area that Humana is actively exploring. We have an opportunity to offer members incentives to frequent healthy places from restaurants to the gym. We can reward them with health- related prizes as well as the recognition that comes with “badging”. We also believe that people with certain health interests or conditions will want to meet up at a nearby location.
    Julie Kling will be speaking at the upcoming World Congress Mobile Health Conference on my  “Generating Engagement Through Segmentation, Crowd Sourcing and Personalization” panel. Julie will be presenting examples from Humana in mobile health gaming and care collaboration areas.