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July 17, 2017
By: Frances Dare

The convergence of motivators and virtual health to engage consumers

We recently asked healthcare consumers what motivates them to be actively involved with their health. Among many interesting findings from the consumer survey are motivators that arise most often within different age groups and the reasons consumers get involved with their health at different stages of life.

If you are a younger consumer you are likely motivated to reduce stress and feel better mentally according to the research. If you fall in the middle-age range between 35 and 49, you may be focused on losing weight. Those approaching retirement age said they want to do things to live longer while health maintenance and condition management was a priority for those 65 and older.

Healthcare leaders can use these insights to design services most aligned with target consumers’ interests. Significantly, 85 percent of survey respondents say they have primary responsibility for their health and healthcare. And, convenience emerged as a key value for consumers across age ranges. These factors suggest virtual health approaches are a promising path because virtual provides a broad range of convenient services while empowering consumers to take control of their health. Virtual health offers consumers a means of turning good intentions into positive results.

Let’s consider possibilities to engage consumers based upon age group motivators with matching virtual health services.

Mental health is a primary health motivator for two groups–consumers between 18 and 34 and those 35 to 49. Both groups want to manage stress and feel better mentally. Innovations with behavioral health services provided virtually can uniquely serve these consumers, with a wide range of new approaches to self-care and peer support. There are online self-paced cognitive behavioral therapy programs, web-based support groups, mobile and web-based self-help resources for acceptance and commitment therapy and peer community interactions. At the leading edge of innovation, brain sensing technologies combined with games are reinventing behavior modification therapy. Any of those services can be combined with live talk therapy over video. In fact, virtual behavioral health services can more fully address needs for anonymity and customized approaches than traditional in-person talk therapy.

Weight loss is another major health motivator for consumers from 35 to 49 where virtual care choices abound. Whether using mobile apps to research calorie counts or wearable devices to track exercise, consumers can customize and manage their own weight loss program. Today, support groups or group classes with nutritionists can take place on social media platforms or over video from the convenience of home.

Living longer is a key health motivator for those 50-64, and their focus is on ways to extend a quality life, especially preventive care. Their choices include access to “digital doctors” available to answer specific health questions via mobile app or web. The same “digital doctor” platform can also provide checklists of healthy habits. In addition, physicians and other providers can support patient preventive health with secure message reminders to schedule health screenings such as mammograms, take medications as prescribed, or stay engaged with exercise programs. For those worried about skin cancer, a mobile app can analyze photos taken with the embedded digital camera. Moles can be evaluated for unusual growth and changes over time.

Overall health maintenance is a top motivator for consumers 65 and older followed by the desire to best manage health conditions. Virtual health offerings can take the form of secure portals to obtain test results, schedule appointments and communicate securely with physicians about health needs. Wearable technologies can not only measure activity but also suggest posture corrections.

For those managing ongoing conditions like diabetes, remote sensing and monitoring technologies can track glucose levels and automate insulin delivery.

Our research shows nearly all adults (92 percent across all ages) agree they need to do more to achieve better health. A key question is how providers and others will align their services with motivators that matter most to different groups of consumers. And, how will they design these services to be as easy, engaging and convenient as possible?


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