Creating a Successful Healthcare App.

After listening to a couple of webinars (on demand – this means I intentionally miss the live version so I can watch the recording that allows me to pause and make notes.

There are a couple I have listened to discussing the mHealth (mobile health) space.

The most recent one is – ‘What makes a health app effective’

Recording – http://event.on24.com/r.htm?e=375664&s=1&k=4606AB7B03874AFBF0A00BF178AFF2BE
Slides – http://event.on24.com/event/37/56/64/rt/1/documents/slidepdf/what_makes_a_health_app_effectivefinal.pdf

Any who, this is what I have learned – and I’m sure can be applied to any industry with the correct research backing.

Number 1: Select your goals and the reason for creating an app. What is the benefit to your business. Make sure there is a connection between the activity and your bottom line. other wise what is the point. Please bear in mind that brand awareness can be included on your balance sheet, but don’t just jump on the ‘app bandwagon’.

Number 2: Select a theme / the area that you want to focus on, remember keep it simple there is so much to choose from if people have to learn they will not bother.

Aside over, if your all sitting comfortably then I will begin.

Make use of the potential for contextual based information, education and learning (this can work both ways.)

Contextual based services have always been the challenge of marketing but now is easier with mobile devices. With the tracking abilities you can find what people like and give it to them when they need it. not just put it in a repository/shop and hope they see it or pick it up.

Leverage mobility to deliver personalised and contextualised information to the consumer, unified from disparate data sources (that is all probably a quote) but deliver the information when the information matters e.g. if you have an app tracking sleep in the morning after a shorter sleep is recorded you can provide actions and advice that can be taken that day to improve the users sleep that night.

Example – ‘MyWellness’ (This is not mine by the way, credit where credit is due and all that)

‘Check in’ How are you feeling? based on the users responses you can provide recommendations. This can be information, services or your own products.

I noticed that there is the opportunity to link to partner with other apps here. That is you could link up with an existing sleep app with an established user base (go where the users are) you can then gather the data and add value based on what you find.

Make use of ‘Social Currency’. It has been proven with energy saving that when people are pitted against there peers they tend to make more of an effort as there is a credibility to be gained by doing better then your neighbours. Relating this to health there is the option to track training goals or eat better by sharing pictures of your food. If someone “forgets” to post their lunch you can bet they ended up in McDonald’s.

The more serious Stuff:

Set your success metrics! Number of downloads and how long it is kept for.
If you have an app for a chronic issues you need to have it for several months, but the previously mentioned slides show that there is a huge drop off after the first month of use so make sure you have the staying power for the action you are trying to instill.

Distribution Vs. Value – The easiest way to get the most people to use your app is to make it free, however people tend to value something that they have paid for. so make a choice, there is always the freemium option.

FDA – beware of the approvals needed for a medical app. but don’t let this hinder your development, Massive Health have throne caution to the wind and fought back against the powers that be in favour of a more agile iterative development process rather then the waterfall process that is easier to track but harder to give the users what they want. In the former there is more opportunity to keep returning to your user group to gather feedback.

Connected/Disconnected – Disconnected is the encyclopaedia or the Microsoft Encarta CD you used to use to look up information. Connected is Wikipedia. Disconnected is slow clunky and is hard to update. Connected is cheap, social, can have more functionality and much easier to change/update to roll with the times.

Care plan managers are a good option for both parties, This would be reactive after a consultation so people will have a vested interest in using the app and from the practitioner or organisations point of view there is a database of information that can be tapped into to improve your product or sell for research purposes.

There is also the likely hood of overloading users with apps and the the ‘street cred’ of using them is going to be diluted. Your app needs to be useful and easy, if it is another thing to learn then they are not going to bother.

Ways to encourage continued usage as well as the social aspect is create a gaming culture with the use of leader boards and provide the feel of moving to the next level after completing set challenge. You can also add peer review to this for example your spouse gets a reminders of you forget to log something and they can contact you. This is a lot more powerful than just an automated email.

The app needs to be able to be personalised and pull the most relevant information – there is potential for creating an service that can pull data from different sources that are relevant to the user. e.g. mapping and weather you can choose to pull pollan or UV information, or track you diet with the correct food stuffs for managing weight or health. This is relevant and therefore more useful! It means you know what is being used when to improve offerings or special deals.

This can also be great for the patient but also for the practitioner. During consultations if practitioner can have a dashboard of what the client has logged in the last month then the visit is going to be a lot more valuable, and if the client knows their practitioner is going to see that information they are going to behave better.

Creating apps can hopefully aid the shift from reactive to proactive, with the use of a common connected platform.

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