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Self-sustaining behaviour change needs ‘glue’, not just technology

Self-sustaining behaviour change needs ‘glue’, not just technology

The strategy to bring social care and health care together in a more cohesive, collaborative, connected manner through the Sustainability Transformation Plans is a positive, smart direction for local government and the NHS and we are confident there are going to be some very impactful results.

Why? Because over the last few years, we have seen a number of integrated innovative solutions and programmes (such the emerging Well North Pathfinder programmes in the North of England) that are driving a transformation in care. And they often do this by involving and utilising real people across many points in the community to enhance individual self-care, motivation and responsibility and an increase in wellbeing across the overall community.

Obviously, innovation in technology has a role to play in these programmes and there are some extraordinary new apps and system enhancements out there that are going to help deliver greater understanding of needs, personal situations and improve care.

But it’s worth noting that while technology by itself can deliver radical change in how people actually do things, technology does not not normally, by itself, deliver ongoing self-sustaining changes in personal behaviour. I could say exactly the same thing about the use of incentives: it’s important but not a complete solution in its own right.

From where we sit, the really exciting bit is where people across a community work together in new, ‘on the ground’, mutually supportive ways, and technology and incentives are used as a part of the mix to help build awareness, drive personal communication, gather and move information and overall, to help motivate, track and reward desired actions and changes in real world behaviour.

BetterPoints uses technology as an enhancement to programmes, not just as a tool for pushing data back and forth and tracking activity. Our technology acts as a ‘glue’ between the various stakeholders in the community; and as a means of communication, building awareness and giving people very relevant information and motivation to do things in the physical world that are just plain good for them to do but also good for the community and those that are working very hard to provide support and care. And we try hard to wrap all we do within the boundaries of a measurable behavioural change approach so any lasting changes and cost savings can be verified… which is pretty important in these times!

Today, we are jointly launching major health and wellbeing and smart travel behaviour change programmes with local authorities, county councils and the NHS across a range of locations including York, Durham, Newcastle, Hampshire, Greenwich, Salford, Reading, Hounslow and Skelmersdale. I have the regular privilege of attending many programme development sessions with individuals from Councils, NHS Trusts and CCGs, and I am always struck by the passion and concern about the wellbeing of people constantly shown in an environment that has extraordinary pressures and demands.

We look forward to being able to report some solid evidence in terms of wellbeing indicators as well as some cost savings from these programmes in the very near future.

I welcome any thoughts you may have on all this. We think it’s a challenging but actually quite hopeful time.