April 10, 2018 - No Comments!

How to design HealthTech for long-term engagement

Behaviour change in health care

Self-tracking and self-monitoring are central to healthy living, digital health prevention and treatment.

Using apps and wearables it combines recorded behaviour and automatic monitoring. Giving more accurate data to help inform and aid a person’s health.

It’s a huge market. There are now over 160,000 health and medical apps on the market. With apps for counting calories, fitness tracking and menstrual cycle tracking among the most popular.1
Tracking devices are becoming more integrated into diagnosis, treatment and lifestyle changes for chronic illness. In 2017 the NHS started prescribing health apps to help manage conditions. Helping people make more informed choices about their own condition and giving medical professionals a complete picture of their patient and their illness.

The future of healthcare could be in your hand… this is if we design them right.

More than half of people who download a health app stop using it.

For Behaviour Design, this dropoff presents an opportunity. Behaviour Design helps support a person’s health behaviour, reduce the barriers to them achieving their behaviour and build trust to get the most out of the relationship.
If you want to design engagement you need Behaviour Design.

We use evidence-based behaviour change models and insights. Designing for long-term engagement and health improvement.

Our process is called the Behavioural Design Toolkit - or Behaviour Kit for short. It combines the top behavioural theories into a concise process that delivers. Combining the key behavioural theories of B=MAT, Self Determination Theory, MINDSPACE and the Behaviour change wheel.

We believe that technology should reflect the interactive nature of health and health tracking. To succeed it needs to:

  • educate
  • preempt people’s changing needs
  • reveal and address unmet needs
  • adapt to people’s needs
  • facilitate better communication between patient and practitioner
  • empower people to take control over their own health.

These are the six pillars of Behaviour design.

Create long-term success

design for healthtech engagement

To create engagement we use an 8 pronged approach. A process that gathers the best data, designs the best solution and crafts the best solution with behavioural insights at the core.

1. Collaboration focused

As humans, we are highly influenced by everyone around us. Our health choices are no different. They are influenced by the multiple layers of our community. From our immediate friend groups, people around us, input from professionals and at institutional levels. For health behaviours to work it’s important to view behaviour in the context of each of these layers.
We listen to all these voices. Collaborating with each different level to ensure new health behaviours are supported by the technology, but also in interactions with people.

2. Evidenced

We bring established insights from academia to guide our solutions. Helping us know what works before we start working on the problem.

3. Easy data tracking

Data is central to assessing people’s behaviour. Collected data is both passive and active. Passive data is tracked through the person-technology interaction. Data including engagement, clickthrough and use. Active data is just as important. By actively asking people about their behaviour and expectations we can start to understand the why behind their actions. We use methods including surveys, interviews and self-recorded data.

Passive data tells us what people are doing, and the active data tells us why they are doing something, and why they aren’t doing something. These two insights help us design different solutions based on their motivation, intent and environment at each point. Preempting decisions for long-term engagement.

4. Friendly feedback

With new and established behaviour, feedback educates and encourages a person to keep going or to change. The best feedback is both personalised to the person and timely. Presented when it is needed most to nudge the next decision. By focusing on a person's behaviour, we are able to pinpoint where these key decision moments are. Moments that affect whether they will continue their new behaviour and what might cause engagement dropoff.

5. Relatable feedback

Health and lifestyle change is hard. Building trust will help make change stick. Trust in the treatment, trust in the information and trust in the technology. Trust keeps a person on the right path. We build trust by talking the same language. Break down complex terms. Keep directions simple. Make it easy to understand.

The easier something looks, the more people will do it.

6. Local feedback

Health products are used worldwide. Account for cultural differences to make your product and service relevant to the most number of people. Our behaviour is influenced by our culture, values and associations. Adapt feedback to local markets to give the best information and the right encouragement. Creating engagement in all markets.

7. Support communication

Our health existing outside digital interaction. Healthtech provides a wealth of insight that a person takes to medical practitioners. Make this interaction as seamless as possible to ensure that practitioners encourage engagement and patients realise the full value of your product.

8. Adapt

People’s needs change. Digital health companions should adapt to the person using them. Adapting and changing usage patterns, message types and content. Matching a person’s change in motivation type, habits and usage.


Get started

Create a behaviour strategy

A behaviour strategy combined the business goals and health outcome goals.

Behaviour has multiple touchpoints. For successful health behaviours, we have to look outside of the human-technology interface. Establishing a behaviour strategy helps each part of a business optimise for a person’s behaviour. Combining sales, marketing, content design, service design, user experience and customer experience with one central goal. To improve a person’s behaviour. We use human factor KPIs to craft each of these business touchpoints.
A behaviour strategy should focus on the planning, creation, delivery and governance of people’s behaviour.

Research and define the problem

With all project we start with three questions:

  1. What decisions are people making?
  2. What decisions are people not making?
  3. What decisions should they make?

Decisions are central to understanding people’s behaviour. They are affected by our conscious and unconscious. For health behaviours, it means the decisions people aren’t making are equally important as those they are. By unpicking what people are choosing to do and why we can define a behavioural problem. Helping people do more of, less of and predicting their future decisions.

Research is important to understand people’s behaviour. It builds out the picture of why, how and when a person is making decisions. Literature reviews gather behavioural insights from academia, carry out data analysis, ethnographic research, surveys, journey mapping and more to create a Logic Model of Problem. Linking the problem, to the intervention and outcome.

Analyse the behaviour

Look at research from a behaviour viewpoint. Assessing your data and findings for people’s motivation, their ability to act and the triggers for their actions. This builds out a chain of behaviour that you can use to pinpoint key behavioural pivots. These are moments in a person's behaviour that with the right nudge can have a huge impact on their end behaviour. Creating the right interventions, for the right moments to create solutions that are both practical and cost-effective.

Design the behaviour

Different behavioural design suit different behaviours. Your research will show whether the behaviour someone is doing is wanted or unwanted. And how motivated they are to act. This helps determine whether you can create new habits, nudge their good decisions, prevent unwanted decisions, stop and change bad decisions and anticipate decisions they will make.

behaviour design types

To create the most effective solution, use hypothesis-driven design. It sets out assumptions about people’s behaviour and gives a metrics to evaluate your solution against.




  1. Lupton, D. Self-tracking, health and medicine. 2016
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