A Case Study Analysis of how Products Might be Designed to Promote Health


  • Brittany E. Sigler, DrPH Johns Hopkins University
  • Keshia M. Pollack Porter, MPH, PhD Johns Hopkins University
  • Lindsay Thompson, PhD, MA Johns Hopkins University
  • Cyrus Y. Engineer, DrPH, MHS, MHA Johns Hopkins University
  • Sara Singer, MBA, PhD Stanford University
  • Darrell Gaskin, MS, PhD Johns Hopkins University




Background: Consumer technology products are changing lifestyle behaviors like how we eat, how we sleep, and how we get around, but existing research has not examined whether they are being designed to promote healthy choices. This study assesses the health impact of two products, Snapchat and Uber, through the lens of their companies’ environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: We use an exploratory multiple case design to present how health might be considered as a growth strategy for consumer technology products. Using publicly available material, we analyze the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for the products’ design, policy, and implementation to promote health.

Results: This distinct approach to health impact assessment successfully revealed existing organizational beliefs and practices with health impact. Snapchat’s social media platform fosters social interaction but lacks responsible design features, while Uber’s mobility platform has safety and privacy measures but lacks focus on physical activities as forms of mobility.

Conclusions: By using these products, positive health impact is possible: whether through social connection and information access (Snapchat), or increased mobility and physical activity (Uber). This case study highlights the untapped potential of intentionally designing products to influence health behaviors and promote health, especially through new uses of existing features. Leveraging external partnerships and subject matter experts will be crucial for success, but companies that choose to do so and embrace a health-positive mindset will lay a foundation for a replicable business strategy for those too reticent to lead in this nascent field.