There are a lot of factors competing for people’s time, attention, money, and physical/cyber space (wearables, devices, apps, etc).  Behavior change tools need to serve a specific purpose and be meaningful, by appealing to an individual’s motivations and drivers. People don’t need yet another notification on their phone telling them to do something, unless is personalized, backed up by evidence, trusted, and if the user expects the resulting action to lead to a positive outcome.  This presents opportunities and challenges, and calls for a well thought out approach to design and development, in addition to the selection of technology and hardware (if appropriate). At Ballast Lane we have an experienced team that can provide all of that, and we hope you will consider us the next time you are planning a product to enhance people’s lives.

I have many years experience in managing products that are focussed on enabling people to change their behavior for the better.  I have provided 3 examples below:

My first experience was when I worked at QuitNet (acquired by Axia then Healthways and then became part of MeYou Health), in the early 2000’s.  QuitNet was the first online community to help people quit smoking, and was started several years before Facebook was even launched. Our founder, Nate Cobb, who was a medical student when he started it, as well as being a technologist, realized how effective it could be if people quitting smoking could receive peer support from others who were experiencing the same thing.  They might live across the world, but if they quit at the same time and were available online to help each other through, it was a powerful support system. Tools included a Quit Date, Milestones (e.g. 5 days quit, 1 month quit!) with printable certificates, buddies, threaded discussions, chat forums, expert advice, medication wizards to help determine if a quit medication was a good fit, and more.  QuitNet was free to join and participate, and was paid for by a wide range of public and private sector partners. QuitNet was part of an NIH-funded RO1 clinical trial to demonstrate the efficacy of QuitNet and the benefit of integrating phone coaching directly into an online platform.

From there I worked for another start-up called GroundedPower (acquired by Tendril Inc in 2010) to help energy companies engage with their customers while attempting to reduce peak use . We partnered with local energy companies to set up pilots that monitored the use of electricity in the home, and provided ways for consumers to see how they were using power, particularly during peak times, and determine ways that they could cut down.  The challenge was getting people to engage with their energy use, given that electricity is relatively inexpensive. Knowing that an individual’s motivations vary, we were able to present savings in terms of money, impact on the environment, and a comparison against a cohort of their neighbors (to appeal to people’s competitive nature). We also had a simple display with a series of LED lights to indicate how much power you were using at a given time.  This was enough to encourage a change of behavior (seeing an indication of high usage encouraged people to think about what they were doing at a given moment, and try to make immediate changes to cut back).

The final example I want to highlight in behavior change tools was with Bloom, a start up focused at addressing senior isolation in the home.  The hardware included a tablet and wearable, and the tools consisted of the ability for family members to upload photos and videos to the tablet, to include annotations/voice-overs, do video calls, etc.  The goal was to enhance the lives of people aging-at-home, while providing peace of mind to their adult children and other caregivers.

At Ballast Lane Applications we are focused on helping to enhance people’s lives with thoughtfully designed, well built tools, and are particularly focused on Financial Health, Physical and Mental Health and well-being.  We are currently working with a Behavioral Economist from Texas A&M University on a number of projects, including developing an app for the offline collection of data in populations in developing countries, the creation of a survey tool, and a study to collect, analyze and present smart meter data.  We designed and created the back end portal and surveys to collect the data.  We also built an app for a local organization to support Alzheimer caregivers.  Additional experience includes working with Provant on a number of health and wellness initiatives, apps, and events.

We love to address opportunities by developing solutions that can help lead to a change in behavior, and therefore a higher quality of life.  Please reach out to us to learn more!

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