Hitchhiking and health coaching and why they have a connection


Hitchhiking and public health are two things that don’t usually go together in an academic lecture, but a reknowned professor and researcher from the University of Michigan molded them together with ease in a lecture given to students and faculty members Thursday.

Speaking of the media development in the health field, Strecher said many companies market their apps after hitchhikers, hoping people will simply stumble across their program and buy them. He suggested a tollbooth technique as a more effective way of producing media, especially apps.

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Victor Stretcher gives a lecture on health Thursday afternoon in the Talmage Building.
“We are … bombarded with hitchhiking programs trying to get [us] to pick [them] up,” Strecher said. “You need to build something that people have to stop by you to get to.”

Strecher has traveled around the world giving lectures on some of his innovations, teaching as a professor, serving as director of cancer prevention and control at the University of Michigan and also founded many programs that promote a healthier lifestyle.

“I was tired of some of the things in academia,” Strecher said. “I felt like there was something bigger out there — something I could dedicate my life to.”

Teaming up with Rick Synder, former CEO of gateway and current Governor of Michigan, Strecher started the company HealthMedia Inc. in 1998 which has now helped millions of people become or stay healthy.

HealthMedia is an innovative company that focuses on revolutionizing behavior change. They also offer digital health coaching that includes many different tools to better suit the needs of the people who use their services.

“Information alone doesn’t help [people] make big decisions,” Strecher said.

HealthMedia bases much of their model on tailoring to individuals. According to Strecher, his team was able to do substantial research proving a greater success rate when messages were tailored to their specific audiences.

According to his research, if a normal 50-year-old is given a pedometer to count their steps and encouraged to try and walk more, there would be no sigfiicant difference in the amount of steps taken. However, if the messages were tailored to meet the needs of the 50-year-old by learning more about the individual and also by giving them an electronic media coach, the senior walked an average of a mile more per day.

Strecher ended his discussion by trying to motivate his audience to be more of an influence for good.

“[People] are not waiting for us,” Strecher said. The way to create the future is to create it.”

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