February 07, 2012

How to Use Technology to Inspire Good Habits

Two organizations have recently set out to use technology to help people adopt healthier habits.

While one is a nonprofit and the other a company, both are blending charity and business to develop creative ways to inspire people to change the way they live.

Choose You: American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society's Choose You effort uses online tools to urge "women to put their own health first in the fight against cancer." Individuals are invited to choose personal goals for one of five categories: Eat right, get active, quit smoking, get regular checkups, and protect your skin.

Choose You challenges each participant to set an eight-week goal. Anyone who falls short can make a commitment to donate money to the American Cancer Society.

The participant chooses a friend or family member to serve as "referee" and help keep her accountable. And to help provide support and encouragement, participants can invite friends and relatives to come along for the journey.

To help drive awareness and traffic, the American Cancer Society enlisted Sprite Zero and Walgreen's as sponsors and have started a Choose You at Work program to make it easier for employers to encourage their staff members to participate.

DailyFeats Builds a 'Coalition of Good'

Brothers and entrepreneurs Veer and Vinay Gidwaney started DailyFeats in late 2009 with the idea that change starts with small actions and simple positive choices that people make every day.

And, like the American Cancer Society, they offer gamelike incentives to people who are trying to change their habits.

In this case, users can go online or use their smartphones to record simple "feats" such as taking the stairs, flossing, or getting to bed early.

Users can schedule daily or weekly reminders of the goals they want to accomplish—in essence, creating a check-in platform for healthy habits.

Each feat completed generates reward points that users can redeem in the form of gift certificates or discounts with several major companies that are supporting the effort.

Users also have the option of giving their points to charity. Cigna, for instance, offers users the chance to donate $1 for every 50 points they accrue through the site to the American Heart Association; JDRF, which serves people with diabetes; P2V, which matches military veterans who have PTSD with shelter dogs; Prevent Cancer Foundation; or Save the Children. Tommy Hilfiger will make a $10 contribution to the Millennium Promise to help end global poverty for every 500 points redeemed.

Using New Tools to Stay Relevant
As online and mobile tools make it easier for people to connect, companies and charities will need to find new ways to stay relevant. Choose You and DailyFeats show there are new, different ways for companies and charities to help individuals consumers.

What do you think? Have you tried Choose Your and DailyFeats? Will they make a difference?