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Connected Health, Community Health

It’s easy to focus on health at the doctor’s office. When people have a one-on-one interaction with their healthcare provider, they easily commit to making healthy choices regarding diet, exercise, and illness management. Once they leave, however, they often lack the support necessary to follow through on their health goals. It’s tempting to let healthy habits slide when we feel like we are on our own.

FiVi Health Networks—a Boston-based startup—has tackled this challenge by helping municipalities and organizations create community health networks that leverage peer support to help people lead more active and healthy lives. Their vision is to unlock new innovations in local healthcare programming by empowering local governments with an interactive social health resource that can be easily implemented. By providing this platform free of charge and allowing community members to collaborate on maintaining their health, they free up scarce resources for public health.

The site utilizes machine learning and crowd-sourcing technology, which are quickly emerging as best practices in Service Design.

Using the social media network, residents can access a number of health tracking tools, conduct research with thousands of educational articles, form local affinity groups to speak to specific interests (for example, new mother walking groups), and compete in fun health challenges. The site utilizes machine learning and crowd-sourcing technology, which are quickly emerging as best practices in Service Design.

Continuum worked with Fivi to refine its user engagement model to increase participation. After researching how users interacted with the site, Continuum recommended simplifying the interface and structuring the site around achieving health goals, rather than overwhelming users with functionality. Instead of asking users to input lots of data upfront, the site now asks users to define their health goals, and then offers them the immediate reward of a personalized training plan to help them achieve them. Users can use their plans to share progress and garner support from other users.

Since that upgrade, over 80 percent of users have picked a health goal—triple the previous rate. In addition, site visits have increased 20 percent, click-through rates on media have increased 38 percent, and logging activity has increased 12 percent for active users. FiVi is also teaming up with well-known regional teams and organizations (Boston Red Sox, Boston Moves for Health) to incorporate community events into their program and gain exposure. This open-source approach to community health design is proving that communities can easily implement what makes sense for them while improving the health of the community overall.