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Persuasive technology: designing behaviour change initiatives for digital

By Michelle Kelly

In these times of unprecedented demand for digital sources of medical information, there is an escalating opportunity to provide time-poor healthcare professionals (HCPs) with the online education and resources they need.

Strategies to support individual knowledge and treatment decisions for better patient outcomes are no longer the reserve of pharma reps and on-site scientific meetings. Advances in technology, with the advent of AI and machine learning, has made it possible to influence behavioural change in a more personalised way.

However, creating impactful virtual and online support tools (that are relevant, engaging, credible, trustworthy, timely and easy to use) relies on providers using the right content and technology for digital specific interaction. And while the pharma industry increasingly seeks to provide such services, it has generally been slow to adopt ‘digital’ and challenged by providing meaningful HCP value and ROI.

Researchers have made significant efforts to understand the relationship between digital technologies and behaviour change across many disciplines including health. Websites are considered a ‘persuasive technology’, triggering automatic social responses in human beings, who are hardwired to instinctively respond to cues in the environment, especially to things that seem alive or interactive in some way.

The ability to persuade

Being more personalised and aligned to their needs typically equates to being perceived as more authoritative, trusted and liked – all attributes that researchers find correlate with the ability to persuade. If people perceive a person or a thing to be useful, attractive or similar to them, they are more likely to assume admirable qualities such as intelligence, reliability and authority and be more willing to interact.

In general, people expect authorities to lead them, make suggestions and provide helpful information. They also assume authorities are intelligent and powerful. By presenting with authority, websites and other digital tools are rated more highly and become more influential in changing behaviour.

Therefore, designers and users of such persuasive technologies should be aware of these social cues and strive to imbed them in their websites or devices (in an ethical manner) to support the end users. For example, serving personalised information, questions and reminders can lead people to infer that the website or tool is intelligent, and to therefore be more receptive and responsive.

EPG Health has utilised such psychology in combination with 360-degree stakeholder research and a Gartner leading technology suite to design, build and publish its new medical website ‘Medthority’. Bringing advances in user experience and personalised content discovery, credible content is surfaced based on HCP user profile, behaviour and peer activity.

A modern, customer-centric experience

With discoverability at its core, Medthority delivers a modern, customer-centric experience that most HCPs expect from consumer-led websites but still lack in their professional lives. Combined with EPG Health’s customer toolset to ‘reach, engage and measure’ target audiences, Medthority is designed to deliver better outcomes for all stakeholders.

Supporting HCPs’ patient management and treatment decisions, the mobile-optimised website includes credible content such as disease awareness, clinical trials, drug data, patient support materials and congress/symposium output. Access to these is facilitated through:

  • Discovery – intuitive search, navigation and signposting driven by profile and behaviour
  • Relevance – personalised dashboard, recommendation services and tailored notifications
  • Convenience – functions like bookmark and resume journeys
  • Format – content is optimised, chunked and sequenced for ease of digital consumption.

Free to use and free of advertising, Medthority is funded through pharmaceutical grants and sponsorship for self-contained disease and condition specific ‘Learning Zones’ and ‘Congress Zones’. For more information visit

Michelle Kelly is Marketing Director at EPG Health

In association with

EPG Health

28th July 2020

From: Marketing


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