2013 Digital Health Communications Predictions

Thank you to Beth Bengtson for contributing this post. 

How will digital health communications change this year? Certainly there’s work to be done on this front. Here are the musings of the Hale Advisors team on where we need to evolve as communicators and the trends to watch.


  • We need to become more than marketers – not only do marketers now have to become publishers but they need to become behavior change experts especially in chronic disease areas.  We would love to see brand teams in these areas bring in behavior change experts to help shape their digital programs.
  • We need to be looking at our marketing programs holistically.  We need to understand how all of our tactics are supporting one another and ensuring the ones with the most impact are being maximized.  While 2013 will be about big data, we think it should be about asking the right questions first.
  • We need to integrate health apps with data apps.  It is time to start the process of integration – there are far too many apps for a specific purpose and not enough apps that aggregate our data.  Why doesn’t FitBit (fitness and diet app) talk to The Carrot (nutrition, weight, blood pressure monitor app) and what if I was able to marry that info with a diabetes glucose meter so I can see all my inputs in one place?
  • We need to move beyond user experience to health literacy which incorporates user experience principles.  NIH has done a bunch of work around this and we need all our agencies incorporating and adapting our properties to better serve our stakeholders.


  • Gamification:  Why can’t we make managing our health fun?  I see promise in programs like Zamzee and soon to be launched Monster Manor, which takes a gamification approach to managing our health.  Results from a randomized, controlled study sponsored by HopeLab and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation showed that Zamzee increased physical activity in kids by 59% on average over the six-month study period and had positive impact on risk factors associated with heart disease and diabetes.  The more we can bring an element of fun to behavior change the more likely we are to make an impact.  This goes along with our point above about needing to evolve as marketers.
  • Infographics:  Building on the need for health literacy, there must be a better way for brands to share key information about their brands. We believe that brands can communicate their stories through innovative data visualizations that are clear, concise and easy to share.

What do you foresee to be the biggest changes in Digital Health Communications this year? Post your comments!

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