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Takeaways from Activate 2017: Event Presentations and Content

Did you miss Activate 2017 or want to revisit any presentations? You’ve come to the right place. As part of a series of Activate 2017 posts, this post will be updated as new, relevant content becomes available as well as links to other posts in the series.

What was Activate 2017?

An invite-only event where healthcare leaders came together to learn, share and discuss the leading strategies and mobile programs to drive healthy behavior change. Leaders from multiple disciplines and segments, including health plans covering Medicaid, Medicare and Commercial populations, health systems and providers, medical device and wellness companies all attended.

Activate’s purpose is to provide inspiration, real-world case studies and connections that bring new and insightful health activation strategies to light. Through an inspired mix of thought-provoking keynotes, results-oriented case studies, small-group workshops and plenty of time for networking, attendees walk away with insights to deepen consumer activation at your organization for improved health and business outcomes.



Takeaways from Activate 2017: Learnings and Best Practices from Medtronic, Delta Dental and Canary Health

Takeaways from Activate 2017: Connecting Health Activation and Conversational Business

Keynote Presentations

Dr. Judith Hibbard – The Case for Patient Activation: Research Findings and Real World Examples

Jason Brenier – Principles of Conversational Business

Related Content

Webinar – Beyond Engagement: Cutting Edge Strategies to Activate Healthcare Consumers

Takeaways from Activate 2017: Learnings and Best Practices from Medtronic, Delta Dental and Canary Health

Our Senior Vice President of Marketing, Paige Mantel, shares key takeaways from the customer panel discussion at our inaugural event. This blog is the second in a series of Activate 2017 posts.

I had the pleasure of hosting a panel with three mPulse Mobile customers sharing their goals, strategies and learnings with mobile programs. Below I highlight their key insights including a summary of each program with results and top takeaways.

Todd Robin, Medtronic’s Senior Director of Global Marketing

Medtronic’s Diabetes Services & Solutions division is a highly consumer-oriented business. Todd highlights his key focus on, “How can we create a customer experience that rivals that of leading consumer brands, including Apple and Amazon?” In the pursuit of improving the customer experience to support Medtronic’s customer loyalty and financial goals, mobile engagement, and specifically conversational engagement, tools have been implemented.

Medtronic has been working with mPulse for over 3 years to deliver a proactive, completely automated and integrated supply order program via interactive text messaging that supports customers through their journey, eases interaction with Medtronic and empowers them to stay adherent to their diabetes therapy program.

Key results driving ROI include redirecting 15% of call-center phone-based orders to a text messaging workflow. This lead to a significant financial and operational improvement. In addition, with the continual use of data to improve the process, Medtronic increased their order conversion rate from 7% to 17%. Customer feedback has been very positive with less than 2% opting out of the program.


Allison Melun, Delta Dental of Colorado’s Marketing Communications Manager

Delta Dental of Colorado, the state’s leading dental benefits company, is focused on helping members understand the value of their dental plan and the importance of preventive care.

With the goal of increasing utilization of preventive services, Allison highlighted the challenge in the Child Health Plan Program where only 40% had visited a dentist. “We looked to mPulse to help increase education and awareness and create a dialogue to help parents take their kids in for dental care.”

The innovative text message-based program at Delta Dental included interactive questions to help the parents understand barriers to adopting dental services, links to educational materials and the dentist so that parents could immediately connect to care and monthly engagement messages to reinforce healthy dental habits.

Allison highlighted results: “Interactive questions lead to by far the highest engagement with over 10% click through rates. We were thrilled with the results. We had 70% of those parents that were messaged take their kids into the dentist as measured by dental claims.”


Adam Kaufman, Canary Health CEO

Canary Health, leading provider of digital health self-management programs that prevent the progression of chronic diseases, is focused on building awareness and engagement with their programs to improve health outcomes for their consumers. Adam partnered with mPulse to support their goals around “motivating consumers to continue participation in their digital health self-management program, notify participants when new online lessons and coaching messages are available and engage with participants using a communication channel that extends and improves the experience.”

Being the most recent program launched of the three panelists, Adam states that “Messages prove highly effective at driving specific activities with the digital health self-management program with 43% click through rate for new lesson notifications and 18% click through rate for new coach notes.”


Our audience had great questions for the panelists. Here are the key takeaways.

How do you choose the area to implement a text message program?

  • Pick the consumer engagement area where you have the lowest engagement rates today. For example, Delta Dental picked the area that they have low utilization of the important health care services they offer to see how they can better empower consumers in their health.
  • Look at where you aren’t meeting customer satisfaction goals and areas that need improvement by using a more effective and engaging communication method.
  • Assess operational areas that could be more efficient with using text-based customer service rather than call-based.

How do you get started quickly and then grow the program for more benefits?

  • Don’t try to boil the ocean! Start small with focus on a certain area with measurable goals and measure the improvement and ROI. This approach helps get people throughout the organization get onboard quickly by seeing the results.
  • Grow by harnessing greater potential by using all of the technological capabilities including NLP (natural language processing) to automate conversations.
  • Look at the data and the analysis to continually improve the program, including segmenting and tailoring different text dialogues to different consumer groups.

How do you measure ROI & benefits?

  • Customer base growth: through innovation that delights them and meets their needs
  • Customer satisfaction: net promoter score, customer surveys, sentiment score within the text program
  • Financial: revenue growth
  • Operational improvements: more efficient use of resources, including call centers

Best practices

  • Use the recommended opt-in approach that optimizes program enrollment
  • Start with a focused program, show results and grow from there
  • Allow call center staff to handle both phone calls and incoming text messages with the mPulse Engagement Console – increases staff satisfaction
  • Take full advantage of the mPulse team’s knowledge and experience to help develop the program

Takeaways from Activate 2017: Connecting Health Activation and Conversational Business

Our Director of Solutions Marketing, Brendan McClure, shares his key takeaways from the keynote presentations at our inaugural event. This blog is the first in a series of Activate 2017 posts.

The case for health consumer activation and strategies for driving activation were clear focuses at Activate 2017, the premier healthcare consumer-activation event. Presentations by our two keynote speakers, Dr Judith Hibbard, lead author of the Patient Activation Measure as well as listed in Thompson Reuter’s 2015 and 2016 editions of The Most Cited Researchers Globally, and Jason Brenier, Director of Strategy at Georgian Partners, worked in conjunction to show the positive health and business outcomes of activated healthcare consumers as well as how conversational business can be leveraged to better connect consumers with their health.

In her session, Dr. Hibbard demonstrated the link between activation and patient behaviors, outcomes, healthcare utilization and costs. The Patient Activation Measure (PAM) assesses patient ability to and likelihood of completing healthy behaviors. In effect, it is a predictor of whether a patient can and will do their part in the care processes. For example, if self-management services are offered, typically only more activated patients will participate. Importantly for care delivery systems, her research has tied higher PAM scores to improved outcomes and lower costs.

After controlling for demographics and health status, there is a $1987 per patient annual cost differential between those patients who stay high in activation and those who stay low in activation over time. That represents a 31% difference.

Dr. Hibbard stressed that care systems must meet patients where they are. Too often health systems focus on at-risk populations, yet many health behaviors being asked of these patients are complex and challenging. Patients with low activation not only fail to complete these tasks, but the act of failing can discourage them from trying other care interventions. Using PAM the least activated patients can be identified, so that support can focus on activation by improving their knowledge, confidence and teaching new skills.

Patient Engagement Outcomes Banner

When the burden to complete a task outweighs the benefit, the task will typically go undone. Dr. Hibbard explained that an individual’s self-perception influences this. Someone lacking confidence is unlikely to tackle a task that is complex. This connected well with Brenier’s discussion on how consumer behaviors are influenced by convenience.

Consumers are attracted to the path of least resistance. Convenience leads to increased consumer adoption, utilization and loyalty over the long-term. Brenier introduced this theme when describing the journey from Web to Apps and recently to chat. Mobile Apps added a whole new level of consumer convenience by bringing large amounts of functionality to the phone. But now mobile app usage is declining 20% YOY as consumers select messaging as the channel they are most comfortable engaging. Why? Chat is easy, humans are designed to chat and the interface is intuitive. In contrast, App functionality must be learned which contributes to App fatigue and ultimately non-use.

Similar to Dr. Hibbard’s comment on the importance of health organizations to meet patients where they are, taking into account their level of health activation, Brenier stressed that organizations must adopt conversational business to effectively reach their consumers. There is an expectation amongst consumers to access rich insights and services through a simple interface with minimal effort. Companies must adopt chat interfaces wherein the UX design is about language, dialogue and conversation experiences. This is how businesses meet consumers “where they are.”

Brenier developed 9 Principles for Conversational Business to help organizations figure out how to launch these initiatives.

9 Principles for Conversational Business - Jason Brenier

There was agreement amongst the attendees at Activate 2017 that conversational business was part of their consumer engagement plans. They highlighted both the potential to influence consumers and the cost effectiveness of the approach as key drivers for change. There was also consistency about the types of challenges conversational business posed, such as who creates the content (dialogues are different to outbound campaign-based copy) and how conversational business is managed across multiple channels. It was clear that the path to conversational business was a strategic goal for many organizations, though the healthcare industry is historically slow at adopting new technology. This in mind, the general consensus was that the best pathway to get there was by taking small steps at a time. As Allison Melun of Delta Dental of Colorado said, “you don’t have to do it all at once.”

Healthcare organizations are looking to other industries for cues on how to deliver a more consumer-focused experience. Brenier clearly demonstrated the potential for industries to meet consumers where they are using conversational business. Given the scale and complexity of healthcare, it naturally translates that there is an enormous number of areas where conversational approaches can deliver a more streamlined and tailored consumer experience. Improving health activation is one of these areas. Dr. Hibbard stressed the importance of healthcare systems tailoring their interactions with patients with low activation scores. By leveraging tailored conversational approaches, healthcare systems can lower the barriers for patient activation and truly meet their patients where they are.

Healthcare Leaders share their tips on how to create a successful mobile strategy

We recently brought a group of top healthcare executives together for discussions on mobile strategies at the mPulse Mobile Healthcare Leaders Forum. The wealth of knowledge shared during the event was abundantly helpful for those in the room, so I couldn’t help but share a few nuggets of their wisdom and experience with you.

The group included business, medical and IT executives from Health Plans, Healthcare Providers, Health Systems, Medical Device Manufacturers, Pharmaceutical companies and Retail Pharmacies.

Here are some of the highlights from the discussion:

Takeaway 1

Consumers want a true mobile experience.

How to Implement

Give people access to their own data and deliver all info they would normal receive but through the mobile channel. That is the best way for them to access that data. One of the attendees highlighted that when they started their mobile text program years ago, 2.5% of their members selected it as their preferred form of communication. That % has jumped to 22% and demonstrates a “threshold of awareness” has been reached.

Takeaway 2

Use mobile and texting, in particular, for self-service.

How to Implement

A few of the attendees are focused on growing their medical device ordering business through the mobile channel by enabling simple and easy ordering via text messaging. It helps reduce operational costs, provides a superior customer experience and improves revenue for their annuity businesses.

Takeaway 3

Replace customer service phone calls with a text message program.

How to Implement

People don’t answer the phone if they don’t recognize the number and they rarely listen to voicemails. Turning that engagement over to the text channel enables patients to read and respond to the message at their convenience and is a much more efficient channel cost-wise.

Takeaway 4

Close care gaps through group texting programs.

How to Implement

Using well-timed and tailored messages has driven patients to clinics for key care touch points to help close care gaps. For those seemingly unreachable patients, text has been the one channel that has really made a difference in getting their attention, and more important, their action in their health and wellness.

In summary, the attendees highlighted some keys to any successful mobile strategy:

  1. Clear organizational ownership of mobile initiatives to ensure they move forward quickly and effectively.
  2. Articulate the desired goals and metrics by which you will analyze the success of your mobile initiatives
  3. Focus on the low-hanging fruit first.
  4. Bring in a trusted partner that has healthcare and mobile expertise, as well as innovative mobile technology.

Connected Health is About Changing Behaviors

Behavior change is proven to be a significant factor in improving healthcare outcomes. One study suggests that more than 50 percent of what makes us healthy is adopting healthy behaviors.

I recently had the opportunity to share my research and experience on this topic as a panelist on the “mHealth Strengthening Positive Behaviors” panel at the Connected Health Summit in San Diego. The panel focused on how we can use mobile technology to affect behavioral change in patients and drive more positive outcomes. It was a vibrant discussion, moderated by Victor Wang (GeriJoy), with fellow panelists Ashkan Afkhami (Mobiquity), Mark McCalliog (newNRG), and Greg Orr (Walgreens).

At mPulse, we are focused on developing technologies that help drive positive behavior changes among consumers, and three critical factors we focus on were also echoed across the healthcare tech community in attendance at the Connected Health Summit:

The importance of context

Our panel discussion followed one with Raphaela O’Day, behavioral scientist with Johnson and Johnson, who presented a compelling case for the use of contextual information in patient engagement.

What is context? At mPulse, we define context as an evolving picture of the person we are engaging with. Our context model starts with a simple data point – a phone number – and evolves into a rich portrait including psychographic, demographic and behavioral data. Understanding a person’s context (everything from the phone they have to the speed they are traveling, to their perception of health risk) allows us to personalize in a way that increases message relevancy. This, in turn, drives engagement.

The need to make healthcare more accessible and affordable

Another great topic that was brought up in subsequent panels focused on how we make our healthcare accessible to the lowest income population. There are two obvious drivers for this focus: 1) costs coming at a disproportionate level from lower income (and previously uninsured) populations; and 2) these populations suffer the most from chronic issues that can be mitigated or avoided by behavior change.

Mobile technology provides an opportunity to make healthcare more accessible at lower costs. Today, over 90 percent of American adults have a mobile phone. The features available through mobile – such as messaging, mobile browsers and notifications – enable providers and plans to effectively reach consumers, wherever they are, and lower communication costs across the ecosystem.

The role of cross-channel communications

Our panel touched on the importance using a cross-channel approach to communication ensuring that we have the broadest reach and the deepest engagement based on individual message content and timing. While all panelists have impressive mobile app portfolios, it was clear that using as many channels to reach the members was critical to driving positive behavior changes.

In summary, our mandate is clear: to provide healthcare stakeholders with cost-effective, cross-channel engagement solutions that harness contextual data (including psychographics, demographics and behavior) to personalize engagement flows. We now possess the computing power, data analytics and the data to make it happen. Positive behavior change is now literally at our fingertips.

Ram Prayaga is the Chief Technology Officer at mPulse Mobile. 

Chris Nicholson Advises the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

mPulse CEO Chris Nicholson served as a judge for the Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) Greater Los Angeles Regional Semi-Finals Competition on April 29, 2015, providing valuable advice for the next generation of entrepreneurs. NFTE is a non-profit organization that implements entrepreneurship and business courses at middle and high schools in low-income areas. Its mission is to provide programs that inspire young people to stay in school, to recognize business opportunities and to plan for successful futures. The organization sponsors an annual business plan competition that includes students from across the country.

“It was a privilege to participate in the entrepreneurial education of young people,” says Chris Nicholson. “The hard work and creativity demonstrated in the students’ presentation was truly inspiring.”

For more information on NFTE, please visit

In Conversation with Jared Reitzin – HIMSS15 Edition

While in Chicago for HIMSS 2015, mPulse Mobile Chairman and mobileStorm CEO Jared Reitzin produced a series of videos for mHealthWatch. In the videos, Jared talks to industry leaders about mHealth industry trends. Check out the videos below.

In Conversation with Jared Reitzin: A Timely Talk About Wearables with Kaiser Permanente’s Chip Strosnider

In Conversation with Jared Reitzin: Exclusive Interview with etherFAX CEO Paul Banco

In Conversation with Jared Reitzin: mobileStorm CEO Chats with Kaiser Permanente’s Brian Gardner

mPulse Mobile to Debut at mHealth Summit 2014

We at mPulse Mobile put our heads down in our “Fun Lab” to come up with the party idea for this year’s mHealth Summit at the Gaylord in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, December 9th. We’ll be collaborating with mobileStorm, who has a proven track record of delivering legendary events at past mHealth Summits, including last year’s yacht party and text-in trivia game.

This year, mobileStorm and mPulse are anticipating an extra special event to commemorate 15 years in business for mobileStorm and the launch of mPulse Mobile. We’re excited to share that we’ll be gathering for an epic night over dinner and drinks on Tuesday, December 9th, from 6PM to 8:30PM. Here’s the schedule:

  • 6:00 – 6:50PM – Drinks at Belvedere Hotel Bar (across form the lobby)
  • 7:00 – 8:30PM – Dinner at Grace’s Mandarin (188 Waterfront Street, across the street from the hotel)

We can also confirm a few things – 1. You’ll have A LOT of fun, 2. There will be lots of laughs, 3. We’ll share the latest mobile trends, and 4. You’ll love our new mPulse Mobile team.

Check your inbox for your VIP invite. If you’re a new friend who has yet to make it onto our email list, please contact us through the “Contact” section of our website OR come by our booth at the mHealth Startup Showcase (Booth 48!). We’ll be sure to add you to our invite list. Don’t miss out on this awesome party.