How to design/program/plan for effective health behavior change is the billion dollar question. Every industry (technology, architecture, design, finance, auto, insurance, travel, etc.) is converging around this question.  How can we make people more motivated to change their health habits for the long term?

Years ago when I was at Canyon Ranch, I listened to the founder, Mel Zuckerman say “A person will only change his behavior when he has an emotional experience with his health.” Mel founded Canyon Ranch in the 1970s due to his own emotional health experience. “People who have heart attacks tend to ‘wake up’ really fast to the changes they need to make….we help them figure out how to make those changes.”


But what about the billions of others who do not have heart attacks? Should we design heart attacks? (The U.S. food industry is actually doing that quite nicely). How can healthcare better tap into the human spirit and trigger powerful emotions before a crisis situation? We need to leap way outside the box to rethink motivation.

Who already does that really well?

Socially: Facebook. Twitter. The pink ribbon (breast cancer) brand. Churches.

Physically: Farmers markets. Candy stores. Standing work stations.

Visually: The film industry. Advertising. Those TV commercials that advertise needy pets and children in Africa get me every time. Today I am working next to the founder of ScruffyTV who makes online videos for mass viewing. BJ Fogg recently tweeted: ‘VisualMD is a tool for health epiphany. — Wow. Designing for epiphany is hard. Epiphany leads to behavior change. Hopeful’

Epiphany is a powerful motivator – for sure.

Know any epiphany designers?

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