January 2012: Chris Cartter: The Socialization and Gamification of Health Behavior Change Apps

6:30pm, Tuesday January 10

Chris Cartter, General Manager, MeYou Health – the social well-being company

Venue: IBM Center for Social Software, 1 Rogers Street, Cambridge






For decades, health behavior change programs have been fine tuned to guide participants through goal-driven, step-wise programs, highly tailored to the individual. Yet, even the best of these programs yield only modest participation, often heavily incentivized, hampering their ability to truly impact the public’s health. Meanwhile, the dramatic rise of the social Internet and wildly successful online social games have transformed the landscape of what’s possible. Facebook, with its 800 million users, creates an unprecedented social infrastructure developers can use to jump start a new generation of socially activated behavior change apps. Social network science can reveal patterns of social connection and influence, allowing us to create the first generation of health apps that engage not just an individual, but their real-world social network. User interaction patterns gleaned from successful games can be used to design realistic, genuine experiences that engage people in a personal journey towards well-being, not just a one-time interaction with an “intervention”.


After the conclusion of this session, participants should be able to:

1. Discuss the importance of creating behavior change applications that leverage the real-world social networks of participants.

2. Explain how “game mechanics” can make the experience of using behavior change programs more fulfilling.

3. Envision a future where health programs are truly social and capable of engaging a mass audience in a collective journey towards greater health and well-being.



Chris Cartter has worked in the areas of networking technologies, health and social change for over 25 years. He is currently General Manager at MeYou Health (MYH), a social well-being company and Boston-based subsidiary of Healthways (Nasdaq: HWAY). Before starting MYH in 2009, Chris was Senior Vice President of Internet Innovation at Healthways. He came to Healthways in 2006 through the acquisition of QuitNet, an online smoking cessation company where he served as President & CEO from the time the program was spun out of Boston University (BU) in 2001. For eight years while at BU, Chris led the development of online services for Join Together, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funded substance abuse resource center at the BU School of Public Health. Earlier in his career, Chris worked for two international NGO’s, Oxfam America and Grassroots International, which he co-founded in 1983.


Evening Schedule

6:30-7 Networking & Socializing over Tea, Coffee, Drinks, Food; Joining BostonCHI

7-8:30 Meeting

8:30-9 Dessert! … And more Networking & Socializing