Behavioral Science – Applying an Old Discipline to Solve Today’s Healthcare Marketing Challenges

This week I had the opportunity to host an internal Sparkology session. Sparkology is our agency’s internal forum for cross-sharing ideas and expertise – and it’s also a great opportunity for free lunch and to hang out with some pretty cool people that I don’t get to see every day.

The focus this week was on behavioral science – taking a look at the history of behavioral science and examining the innovative ways that our agency is applying this health behavior expertise to develop campaigns that drive positive patient outcomes.

We looked at examples of marketing campaigns –and peeled back the layers to look at not just the insight behind the campaigns, but also how behavioral science provided practical strategies for changing both patient and healthcare professional behavior.


Below are highlights of our discussion that summarize how applying behavioral science is innovative, relatable and practical:


  • Behavioral science is old, but not that old if you compare it to astronomy – it’s only been around since the 1930’s-40’s. We tap into decades of proven strategies from behavioral science to craft solutions that are relevant to today’s healthcare landscape.
  • Behavior is complex and solutions that drive lasting behavior change need to challenge conventional thinking – for example, information alone won’t change behavior.


  • Behavioral science is relatable…
    • Kim Kardashian, Albert Bandura, Diane Parrott, Jo Frost, B.F. Skinner and Dr. Cliff Huxtable are all behavioral experts according to our poll – I won’t reveal which one received the highest rating.
    • Internally, we all have behaviors that we know we should engage in more often – flossing teeth, calling parents and praying were top mentions.
    • Behavior comes down to choices – some voluntary and some involuntary – that are driven by an interplay of beliefs, motivators and our environment.


  • We explored some recent MicroMass and outside-industry work that demonstrated use of behavioral techniques such as experiential learning, cues to action, motivational interviewing and problem solving.


And I will leave a parting thought that I did not share at Sparkology – applying behavioral science is not boring. Take a look at this innovative initiative which uses cues to action (and humor) – putting a prompt or cue in the environment to change a behavior – in this case, to slow down speeding cars.

Now that’s what I call resourceful!

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