The Research Forum of the Austrian Universities of Applied Sciences is an annual research event. This year, it was dedicated to the topic "Connection" to discuss how and what research can connect. It is about the connection of questions and solutions, of researchers from different disciplines, developers, users, citizen scientists and many more, across (federal) state borders. This connection between developers, researchers and users was also the focus of the "Digital Health Coach" project. Under the sub-theme "Connecting Society", Lukas Kerschbaumer, on behalf of the Center for Social & Health Innovation (CSHI) at MCI, presented the research project in St. Pölten on April 20, 2023.
Together with the company moveeffect, which specializes in the business areas of human resources and corporate health, the CSHI worked on a project that brought together workplace health promotion, technology and social science. The project involved the development of a digital "health coach" in the form of an app, which is intended to support companies with a cost-effective and flexible option for workplace health promotion, and at the same time motivate and accompany users on an individualized basis in the implementation of behavioral changes in the area of health. The CSHI took over the part of the qualitative survey to prepare and accompany an app prototype. In addition to an extensive literature research with a focus on behavioral economics, psychology and the application of health apps, three waves of interviews were conducted with (future) users between September 2021 and July 2022, in order to gain information on motivational factors, incentive systems and later on satisfaction and suggestions for the app. Ultimately, the goal was to provide scientifically sound input on the needs and desires of the users and thus support the development of the app to the extent that the target group has maximum benefits in the application. Thus, CSHI provided the basis for the further development of the health coach prototype, consisting of individualized choice options for people with a strong health consciousness or also people who want a lot of input and support to change towards a healthier lifestyle. In addition, it is important to note that not all users seek competition with other employees (e.g., who has completed the most steps in the department), but rather can focus on exchange and mutual motivation.
Often, it is already helpful for orientation if the app suggests how much exercise is healthy for which age group and which occupational activities. Such information is often perceived as supportive, without building up too much pressure. Employers play an important role here by influencing the workplace setting. This gives them the opportunity to implement incentives such as additional days off, meal vouchers, subsidies for gyms or sports equipment to help employees achieve their individual health goals.
The workplace plays an essential role in health prevention, as a large part of the population spends a lot of their time here and thus positive as well as negative health influences can be far-reaching. Therefore, the digital health coach represents an enormous potential for employers as well as employees. Particularly due to the Covid-19 pandemic, more and more digital solutions are being established in workplace health promotion, which makes the health coach an attractive prevention tool. Especially the desire for individualization showed up as a recurring study result.
Claudia Zoller and Lukas Kerschbaumer also won the MCI Research & Innovation Award for the research project. You can find the article here: https://www.mci.edu/en/media-en/news/4647-preis-landeshauptstadt-2022-en
Laura Schamberger, BSc, MA
Assistance & Project Management
Center for Social & Health Innovation
+43 512 2070 – 7444
Lukas Kerschbaumer (CSHI) at the 16th Research Forum of the Austrian Universities of Applied Sciences 2023. © Steffen Acosta