Q & A with Adobe Creativity Award Winner: How the County of San Diego Used Technology to Help Citizens Live Well

Q & A with Adobe Creativity Award Winner: How the County of San Diego Used Technology to Help Citizens Live Well

Live Well San Diego is the County of San Diego’s vision for a region that is Building Better Health, Living Safely and Thriving. The Live Well San Diego Support Team won the Adobe 2016 Creativity in the Public Sector Award in part because of the collaborative spirit of its partners and the innovative use of design and technology to make a lasting impact in their community.

Here’s how the vision came about. This is an interview with Lana Findlay, Health Information Specialist, from the Live Well San Diego Support Team in the Office of Strategy and Innovation at the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency.

1. What inspired the idea for

Live Well San Diego

Live Well San Diego is the County of San Diego’s vision for a region that is Building Better Health, Living Safely and Thriving.

In 2008, we discovered that three unhealthy behaviors—poor nutrition, lack of exercise and tobacco use—led to over 50% of deaths in the County. It was clear we needed a strategy to promote better health. As the blueprint for Live Well San Diego took shape, we realized it was going to take a multi-pronged approach to tackle this problem.

As a result, Live Well San Diego has three components focusing on the three major components of well-being: health, safety and quality of life. To live well is to make healthy choices every day, and to feel safe and secure at work, at school, at home and in your neighborhood. Ultimately, we want our community to build habits that help each other achieve their highest quality of life.

To help our citizens achieve these personal goals, the County works with community partners and stakeholders every day. Our partners across various sectors work together around a common vision to create an environment for residents in which a positive and beneficial individual choice is the easy choice to make.

2. What programs did you institute to achieve this goal? 

To help people achieve their individual goals for living well, we developed a list of 101 Ways to Live Well. From that came the 31-Day Challenge.

The 31-Day Challenge is part of a series of activities for residents designed to build awareness of the Live Well San Diego vision. It aims to promote positive behavior changes through daily notifications and provides resources for living healthier, safer and more thriving lives.

Residents can opt to receive a daily notification via email or text through Granicus’ GovDelivery communications platform. These notifications offer a call-to-action centered around health, safety or thriving. They also provide resources from over 330 Live Well San Diego Recognized Partners and related County of San Diego programs.

For example, the January 2017 Challenge focused on New Year’s Resolutions with a 14-Day BONUS Challenge to promote our February Love Your Heart event. July’s 2017 Challenge focused on physical fitness with daily challenges designed to help participants prepare to walk or run in our Live Well San Diego 5K.

3. What was your vision of success? What were your goals? 

Our goal is always to try to get residents to make positive choices, participate in their community, and contribute in their own unique way to improve the lives of those around them.

With the January Challenge, we aimed to get residents to try something new each day to support their goals for living well—all while providing them with resources from recognized partners of Live Well San Diego.

For the July Challenge, our goal was to help prepare residents to walk, jog or run in our Live Well San Diego 5K by the end of the month. We wanted to get people active, to meet up with each other, and contribute to a healthy and supportive community.

We didn’t know exactly what to expect in terms of participation, since this was the pilot project. But we were pleasantly surprised with the results.

For January, we had 974 GovDelivery subscriptions and 986 downloads of a Google Calendar designed to sync with mobile or computer calendars. For July, those numbers rose to 1,373 GovDelivery subscriptions and 1,168 calendar downloads.

4. Who was part of the team involved? 

Putting these challenges together involves a lot of collaboration.

The Live Well San Diego communications team has three people, but we reached out to more than 330 Recognized Partners and across 50 County departments for tips, resources and videos that would fit with each daily theme. We received a great response. For the 5K Fitness Challenge, we also worked with other County Departments to schedule community meet-ups to get people outside to help activate their fitness goals.

5. How did you go about recruiting this team and selecting roles and responsibilities?

We emailed our Recognized Partners, and held internal bimonthly cross-department meetings within the County. We then worked together to understand and support each other’s goals. As a team effort, we got word out about the Live Well San Diego 31-Day Challenge through both our internal and external groups.

6. Tell us about your journey in deciding what needed to be done for a successful campaign. How did you go about planning and organizing this?

We did a lot of research before the launch. We knew that each of the challenges would need to cover a variety of topics and all would need to support the vision of a healthy, safe and thriving region.

We asked ourselves: How would we deliver the daily health messages? How would we market the challenge? How would we make them fun for participants?

We eventually decided to spread the word by using an email-marketing tool that would send participants a daily email or text. We also used a downloadable calendar that would integrate with a customer’s existing calendar to provide the daily notifications.

For our inaugural event (the January Resolutions Challenge), we had to plan how we would incorporate partner resources into the theme of resolutions, and also how to make the event fun for participants.

7. What challenges did you come across and how did you overcome them? 

We had to adjust our methods based upon what our participants told us. At the end of our January pilot event, we asked participants to complete a survey about their experience. Some said they didn’t like being surprised every morning with a new challenge because they found it hard to plan their day. Others said they felt they couldn’t complete the challenges in just one day.

So taking their feedback into consideration, we made some changes. We added a checklist for folks to follow along that would help them with their daily plans. We also reviewed each challenge to make sure that they weren’t too difficult and could potentially be completed by the average person in one day. Another thing we did was offer meet-ups for walking and hiking opportunities—something participants also asked for in their feedback.

The feedback we received helped us make improvements for our July 5K Fitness Challenge.

8. What were the results that you saw and tracked? What feedback did you get from people who participated? 

A vast majority—91%—of those who participated in the January Resolutions Challenge said they had a positive experience, and 87% said they would recommend it to a friend (based on their survey responses). We also saw 974 GovDelivery subscriptions and 986 downloads of the Google Calendar.

Some positive comments we heard include:

  • “I encouraged my family to eat more vegetables, volunteered at Feeding San Diego, made a doctor’s appointment and many others!”
  • “They were good incentives and fun to do it with my team.”
  • “While some did not yet get implemented, each has been helpful in keeping 2017 positive and moving toward a healthy and balanced future.”

For the July 5K Fitness Challenge, there were 1,373 GovDelivery subscriptions and 1,168 calendar downloads. A survey was deployed on the last day of the challenge and a follow-up survey was deployed 2 months later to determine if participants continued to stay physically active since the challenge.

  • 54% of survey respondents participated in the Live Well San Diego
  • 94% of survey respondents continued to stay physically active after completing the challenge.
  • 42% of survey respondents who participated in the challenge and continued to stay physically active increased the number of minutes of moderate physical activity they got per week after completing the challenge.
  • 48% of survey respondents who participated in the 5K Fitness Challenge and continued to stay physically active maintained the number of minutes of moderate physical activity they got per week after completing the challenge (n=50).

Here are some longer-term results shared by our citizens:

  • “I have lost 15 lbs. I really enjoy these challenges. They motivate me and remind me the importance of living well. Thank you.”
  • “I have learned to prepare for the 5k walks with this challenge. It was very helpful in regard to building up to race day. I have completed two 5k walks since and am doing another October 1st.”
  • “I actually started biking the 4 miles to work several times each day! I even ride my son on my bike and he loves being out on the road with me. The challenge kick-started better habits for me and my family. I even have a co-worker who started walking to work the mile and a half because she sees me biking to work.”

9. Overall, what do you believe are the necessary elements to a winning creative campaign?

First, collaboration is key. Our mantra with Live Well San Diego is that we can do more together than each of us can do alone.

We worked with recognized partners and various County departments to provide the best variety of tips, tools, resources and videos each day that we could amass. This kept the challenges interesting and like a new discovery each day.

Second, using technology in innovative ways is important. We used email marketing and an online calendar system. These tools allow us to reach our participants on platforms they interact with every day and allowed us to reach out to participants in a dynamic way.

The next Live Well San Diego 31-Day Challenge started on January 1, 2018 and is focused on New Year’s Resolutions. To learn more and sign-up visit LiveWellSD.org/31-Day.

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