As a public health practitioner, contact tracing is a vital tool and measure used to track and contain the spread of COVID-19. A few countries are using tracking apps to help with contact tracing and slowing the spread of COVID-19. But even within those countries, more participation is needed in order for the apps to be most effective. Given participation is voluntary, how to you increase their popularity and usage?
In this article, “Contact tracing apps: a behavioural economist’s guide to improving uptake” https://theconversation.com/contact-tracing-apps-a-behavioural-economists-guide-to-improving-uptake-137157 , Drs. John Hawkins and Ben Freyens, from the University of Canberra gives us a few “nudges” in the right direction.
Summed up, here are top tips for applying behavioural economics for uptake in contact app tracing, and my own tips using other behavioral science theory.
Top Social Marketing Nudges for Contact Tracing Apps
1. Repetition in Messaging. Repeat consistent messaging. Messages are reminders. Applying the Transtheoretical Model, if people have made a commitment (the Maintenance Stage), reminders are important to keeping commitments. “They” say it takes 30 days to form a habit. A one time decision doesn’t seal a long time behavior change.
By repeating messages, you are also reminding potential users in the “Preparation Stage” to try out the app and can motivate users in the “Contemplation Stage” to move into the Preparation stage.
2. The Messenger. Chose them wisely. They are vital. In order to build trust with users, you must have a trustworthy messenger.
3. Social Influence. Normative beliefs. Observational Learning. Communicate what people are doing and how they are doing it. It educates and informs while shaping the social norm. For increasing users on tracking apps, now would be a good time look at how the Diffusion of Innovation theory could increase new users. Tap into what “innovators” are saying and doing to generate new buzz around the product.
4. Incentivize. Insurance companies using tracking apps can offer discounts on insurance or products for amount of trips taken and distance traveled. I know if my health insurance company offered me a $5 monthly rebate to use an app, I would. What if we got a coupon or rebate for ordering groceries and local food take out online? Count me in! Already companies are wavering delivering fees and restaurants are offering special discounts for curbside pick up.
If you are curious what COVID-19 tracing apps are available for you area, here is a list of a few I have found:
Australia – CovidSafe
Hong Kong- StayHomeSafe
Signapore – TraceTogether
Israel – Shield
Utah, US – Healthy Together- COVID-19
North Dakota and South Dakota, US – Care19
PrivateKit (MIT) – allows you to share your tracking if you would like, can you where ever you are.
Norway – Smittestop
UK (currently under trial in Isle of Wight) – NHS Covid-19
South Korea – Corona100m
Other articles related to contact tracing include:
Curbing Coronavirus With a Contact-Tracing App? It’s Not So Simple.
How Europe splintered over contact tracing apps
Tech expert warns government shouldn’t rely on untested apps for contact tracing
Health Officials Say ‘No Thanks’ to Contact-Tracing Tech