Racing: Incentive or Extra Cost

I’ve run a handful of races over the past 7 years (marathons, 1/2 marathons, and 5Ks).  I have a lot of friends that us the race as an event to motivate them to train.  And, I agree.  It’s helpful to have a goal and be timeboxed to deliver against that goal. 

On the flipside, I always struggle with paying to run in a race with all the added headaches (parking, crowds) if I don’t see any chance to beat my PR (personal record).  I have decent PRs in my 5K (20:55) and my 1/2 marathon (1:42)…we won’t talk about my full marathons.  I’ve finished, but all around 4:30. 

Why is this relevant?  For several reasons:

  1. Incentives are important in healthcare.  Motivating people to change is critical.
  2. This is an example of how an incentive is viewed differently by different people.
  3. This is an example of how the view of an incentive (or motivating event) changes over time or based on a particular framework.

I know this is an opinion of one, but I’ve seen this numerous times.  Healthcare is different.  People are different.  People’s perceptions of their disease change over time.  People’s understanding of healthcare changes over time.  The macro economic factors change. 

You have to be aware of this as you design programs to drive health behaviors.  While you need to understand and respect the past programs, you have to be willing to try things again as the environment might have changed.  You also can’t segment people broadly or put people into one segmentation across time and across different programs (even if their demographic segmentation – income, geography – hasn’t changed).

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