Beyond Gamification & Designing for Change | Dustin DiTommaso, VP User Experience, Mad*Pow

By Dustin DiTommaso, VP of User Experience, Mad*Pow

On May 13-14, 2014, HxRefactored, a revolutionary health technology conference, will bring together more than 500 developers, designers, technologists, and entrepreneurs to improve and disrupt the health experience.  The conference will feature workshops and talks on a range of topics.  I will be there discussing the concept of behavior change and how technology can help address habits that negatively impact health.  I’m excited to be among creative thinkers, sharing ideas about how innovative design can help change human behavior and improve health outcomes.

On Tuesday, May 13, I will host a full-day workshop at HxRefactored titled “Beyond Gamification: Designing Behavior Change Games.”  Participants will learn the mechanics of clinically-tested behavior change interventions as well as the techniques game designers use to motivate, engage, and reward players through a game’s lifecycle.

On Wednesday, May 14, I will present the talk “Digital Whips and Other Persuasive Technologies” as well as participate in an expert panel discussion on “Behavior Change in the Digital World” with thought leaders including Arlen Moller, Dr. David Sobel, Kerry Evers and Nick Crocker, moderated by Martin Adler of Reflexion Health.

Playing games is the prototypical example for an intrinsically motivating activity.  Patient motivation in healthcare is a pivotal issue, and we are just beginning to see how game-play might drive patients toward better health outcomes. Each year, billions of dollars are spent to move our behaviors in a healthier direction to avert crises such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other costly and painful afflictions.  Leveraging the motivational dynamics of game-play to energize and sustain people through behavior change is a challenging yet profound solution and a huge opportunity.

Designing for change is about understanding and facilitating human motivation.  We draw from Self-Determination Theory, which considers the multiple motives people have for enacting or failing to enact intended behaviors.  According to Self Determination Theory, we all possess three core psychological needs:  competence, autonomy, and relatedness.  Competence is the need for growth or mastery over the environment and within us.  Autonomy is the feeling that we are the agent in control of our actions.  Relatedness refers to the need to meaningfully interact and connect with others.  We can use these core needs to guide the direction of behavior change products that we design.

At Mad*Pow, we use technology and design to help people form healthy habits in areas like nutrition, weight loss, sleep, physical activity, or in the management of chronic health issues such as hypertension and diabetes.  Applying our understanding of Self-Determination Theory, we’ve been able to design effective digital tools for clients ranging from healthcare startups, leaders in medical research and care, and Fortune 500 companies.  Essentially, we take what is normally done one-on-one with a clinician and patient and create tools and games to support the desired behavior-change outcome.  Such digital tools can provide a patient with enough autonomy, structure, feedback, and guidance to change behaviors and, ultimately, improve health or manage an existing condition.  Digital tools can be used in addition to a one-on-one clinician/patient relationship or sometimes to replace the clinician in the process.

I hope you will join me at HxRefactored in Brooklyn, NY.  I’m excited to meet with colleagues from across the country to discuss the real impact that innovative design is having on our healthcare system today, and the promise it holds for the future.

Dustin DiTommaso is vice president of user experience at Mad*Pow, a design agency that improves the experiences people have with technology, services, organizations, and each other.  Dustin is a designer and researcher focused on using design to influence and transform people’s attitudes, behavior, and motivation. Dustin designs products and directs programs that incorporate behavior change and gameful design for clients ranging from innovative health start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. Dustin’s work in design has been reviewed and awarded as it is highly effective in helping users reach their goals, sometimes without them even knowing it!

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