Meeting Mike: Using Data to Better Understand Seniors

Posted by John M. Robinson MD, PhD on April 18, 2019
man 2-1

One of the most rewarding parts of my job as the scientific director at the Wellzesta Health Research Institute is the ability to take an interest in the lives of seniors. Last Sunday afternoon, I was "just browsing" on the Wellzesta Life sites used by one of our partner Life Plan Communities. The onboarding team at Wellzesta gets to meet each resident; I am usually not so fortunate. Mostly, I get to meet the residents digitally through the Connect feature.

Here is a 67-year-old African-American male. Let's call him Mike. Mike's presence appears to be a double win for the CEO's effort to recruit a younger and more racially diverse resident. I see the colleges Mike attended, his work history, hobbies, organizations, affiliations, and fun facts. I observe that Mike is quite active—over the past six months he consistently outperformed the community average in terms of points. Now this is interesting: except for two events that were related to Mike's vocational interests (noted above from work history), Mike's points were from consuming on-demand digital wellness content—specifically, reading articles. Mike is an avid reader! I wonder whether the other residents know this about him.

Observations about residents like Mike help us make Wellzesta Life a better product. Everybody likes praise. The old-fashioned way of giving praise would have been to send a letter or an email to Mike complimenting him on his well-rounded reading. The modern way is to create a BOT that sends a personalized message to any resident that has outperformed a certain metric. BOTs are fantastically scalable. Each day the "atta-boy" BOT examines the points of the 10,000+ users of Wellzesta Life and sends out "atta-boy" to deserving residents.

Speaking of scale, we can change out our micro lens (focus on a single user) for a global lens (examine statistics of all users in the system). Figure 1 shows, much to my surprise, that residents consume more on-demand digital wellness content (articles, videos) than they attend community-sponsored events. They love the articles that the editors of Wellzesta curate each day. This is very interesting, don't you think? 

attendance by activity type

Figure 1. Relative engagement by residents in different activity types: community-sponsored event, on-demand digital wellness content, and user-initiated wellness activity.

I recently completed a white paper using similar data analytic methods to study successful aging among independent living residents at our communities - click here to learn more

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