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 personalization for health and wellness (22)

    Seven Strategic Directions for Engaging Employees Through eHealth

    RedBrick Health Employees Participating in the Biggest Loser Minnesota ChallengeDuring the Healthcare Unbound conference in San Diego last week, I started our “New Directions in Employee Engagement” panel with an overview of innovative approaches that are emerging.

    1. Employee Driven. Companies are moving beyond surveys and focus groups, which gather a snap shot of insight, to co-creating with their employees in a private online community.  Within their intranet, these employers are enabling their employees to surface new ideas, define new products and programs suggested by co-workers and prioritize where they want their employer to invest their limited health and wellness resources. During the conference panel, Lisa McGill, VP, Worldwide Human Resources from Brocade, discussed their online BHive community where their WellFit Employee Advisory Council innovates on wellness offerings.  

    2. One Integrated Program on One Platform. Employees struggle every day to keep their job, family and personal life on track. Instead of promoting many separate ways for their employees to pay attention to their health, companies are bringing all their initiatives into a single and integrated program. Employers are tying their health risk assessments, screenings, social challenges and coaching in with their reward program to incentivize their employees. At the same time, they are simplifying the process with an integrated technology platform. With this holistic approach, employers are able to monitor the elements of the program that are driving healthy change while experimenting with new elements such as mobile applications to generate engagement.

    3. Customized Approach.  “My employees work in a call center and do not have time to attend our onsite wellness sessions but would be interested in watching a webinar for example around stress management”, explains a large technology employer.  The key to engaging employees is to understand their lifestyle profile and customize a program that fits into their day and aligns with their technology comfort. Think about how different the Health & Wellness Program may be for a technology firm than a manufacturing company. One size does not fit all.

    4. Personalized Experience.  Some of the biggest mistakes that employers are making is distributing all of their content to all of their employees or assuming that one area (e.g. walking programs) appeals to all of their employees. More innovative employers are enabling each employee to determine how they want to participate based on their interests and needs. These employers are also letting their employees set their content and communication preferences which guide their multi-channel experience.

    5. Influencer Enabling. With the emergence of social health related challenges within a company and the associated online social network to connect teammates, employers are noticing that certain employees are having a positive impact on the health behaviors of others.  Employers are starting to arm these influencers with online tools and resources. Some companies are calling them “Wellness Ambassadors” or “Wellness Champions”.  Employers that have many different offices with limited budget are leveraging these influencer representatives to generate engagement throughout their company footprint.

    6. Social Currency.  Employers are letting their employees create social currency by providing a space on the intranet to share.  Employees are uploading pictures, videos and writing stories such as how Susan lost 50+ pounds or when Joe participated in his first triathlon. Why is this social currency valuable to employees?  It is inspirational, insightful and meaningful since these contributions are from fellow employees with whom they have a common bond. This social sharing is particularly powerful when an employee turns their experience into a mini- challenge to other employees. Bryce Williams, Director of Wellvolution, Blue Shield California mentioned that throughout their 6- week employee social competition, there were “over 1,000 viral wellness challenges”.

    7. Family Engagement. “We are trying different approaches to get the spouses to participate in our health programs,” explains a large financial services employer. Employers are extending rewards to the spouses to motivate their participation. This is particularly important since employees make many health and wellness decisions on a daily basis with their spouses and we all know that negative behaviors can be costly.  How are employers engaging with families in a positive way? During the panel, Pat Sukhum, Co-founder and Marketing Director at RedBrick Health described their Biggest Loser Challenge which this year was extended to the community and to employee’s families. “One of the largest divisions in Challenge included over 3,400 participants who signed-up as teams of families to compete and improve their health together,” Sukhum noted.

    Each of these new directions in employee engagement requires a technology solution to power the capabilities described.  Given that each employer and set of employees is different, it is important to determine what is needed and how to tune the solution to deliver the communication, collaboration and challenges to engage employees and their families.  

    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

    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.

    Series: Engagement Path #5- Reward Me

    Whether companies are launching “challenges” or online tools for healthy change, they are putting rewards in place for maximum response. For example, they are offering consumers rewards for participating in a smoking cessation or a weight loss program as well as winning the team competition for the most steps. With the increase in funding for prevention and wellness, rewards programs are getting more attention. 

    "Last week, I was awarded a wellness day off and I feel like a new person!"

    “The rewards program has helped me. I am more aware of getting the steps that I need to make to my goal each day.”

    “My company started awarding points to get us to be healthier. The program started off with lots of excitement but has kind of fizzled out.”

    “Reward  Me” Opportunity:   Provide currency of value (e.g. money, time off)  in exchange for desired behaviors while keeping the rewards dynamic, tiered (e.g. higher level for achieving stretch goals) and personalized to the individual.

    Engagement in Action:

    • Employers such as REI and Bridgepoint Education are using Limeade to engage and empower their employees. With the Limeade platform, employers enable their employees decide what they want to do to earn points for rewards. With Limeade’s mobile application, employees can even plan, track and monitor their goals while on the go. In addition to their own activities, employees may choose to participate in challenges from their employer or from others in the Limeade online community such as participating in an online coaching session, attending an onsite seminar or completing the challenge activity. For example, users challenge others to train for and complete local races, lose pounds, not drink for a month, or even "get to work without your car the most times this quarter". Employers challenge employees to "Exercise 30 minutes, 6 days a week" to "Contribute (your time or money) to a charity of your choice this month", to "do something for YOU in the next two weeks", or even "post an essay about how you've been inspired to change your life".  Rewards typically fall into two categories; 1) an incentive benefit related to health care -- lower premiums, deductibles or access to a superior plan, or 2) other stuff their specific employees value -- vacation time, ski lift tickets, or dinner with the CEO.  
    • According to Forbes, Ochsner Health Systems and many other employers have used the Virgin HealthMiles  platform with the “Pay for Prevention” program to reward employees for healthy behaviors. Points are given for the measurement of vitals and tracking of activity.  Employers are testing different rewards such as lower premiums, gift cards and days off and the reward value can range up to $2,500 per year. In addition to challenges from a specific employer, Virgin also runs competitions across the employers for all participants in their network. For the selected challenge activity, the participant wins entries into a lottery for travel such as a trip to Sir Richard’s Private Island in the Caribbean.

    Employers need to be creative in how they are packaging, positioning and promoting their rewards program.  The program participants are in the best position to advise their employer on suggested rewards, reward structure and rewarded behaviors. Think about how the rewards program may differ for employees working in a call center or retail store compared with those employed by a financial services firm.

    The biggest challenge for sustaining participation is to determine ways to reward consumers for increasing the time and frequency on activities they enjoy doing (e.g. swimming, biking) and for making healthy decisions about their diet whether they are in a supermarket or restaurant.

    Series: Engagement Path #3- Motivate & Guide Me

    Healthcare organizations are realizing they can leverage technology to help personalize the experience with needed motivation and guidance. Consumers benefit from expert information and tools tailored to their individual goals and interests. These personalized resources not only motivate but also guide the consumer through their “decisions of daily living”. They need guidance when determining how to eat more healthy, improve their fitness as well as manage their stress.


    “Help me set realistic fitness goals and give me ongoing feedback on my progress.”

     “Just tell me what to do to lose the weight.”

    “Keep reminding me about ways to lower my cholesterol.”

    “Help me find way to improve my sleep.”

    “Motivate & Guide Me” Opportunity:   Gain commitment, proactively push to reach goals, deliver actionable information, provide decision support tools and share ongoing feedback.

    Engagement in Action:

    • Wellcoaches  offers a high touch service enabled by technology which  puts the consumer in control of their plan and progress towards goals. The Wellcoach continues to hold their client “accountable” for making needed changes to reach these goals. Armed with insight about the consumer’s preferences for exercise and diet, the coach constantly pushes for progress incorporating these preferences into the plan. In addition, the Wellcoach serves as a cheerleader celebrating accomplishments along the way.
    • Sensei leverages technology to deliver a personalized experience for weight loss. The “virtual dietician” recommends meals based on the consumer’s stated food preferences and lifestyle. Sensei pushes out the fitness message as a reminder for today’s activity plan  “motivational messages” showing progress toward the goal and “behavior” messages to focus the consumer on healthy alternatives. MySensei provides access to tools including a shopping list to motivate healthier food choices.

    Motivation is individual and varies based on the consumer’s unique set of health issues and readiness for change at that time. Even consumers who are self-motivated need information and tools to guide them and help them confidently navigate the decisions when coming to a fork in the road.

    Most consumers need a more comprehensive solution which responds to triggers for need, delivers personalized information and tracks effectiveness to inform future touches.