Mobile patient applications are becoming conventional for many caregivers, such as Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic and others. Although more and more suppliers are considering their purchasing and development options, some of them may decide to follow the mainstream and adopt the set of basic functions (appointment scheduling, recharging, billing, etc.). Not that this is the wrong approach for a patient app, especially in the beginning. However, opting for basic features can make it difficult to achieve long-term business goals.
To generate revenue and keep an mHealth app within the necessary and relevant functional scope, caregivers need to think about the strategy of their patient app. We have raised 3 main points for base a favorable to business strategy activated.
Patient-generating application strategy
Encourage patients to use the app
This is probably one of the most complicated parts of the strategy. Providers need to figure out the functionality that will drive most patients to use the mHealth app on a regular basis. The characteristics chosen will vary depending on the healthcare organization, but we can define a group of options to choose from. These options should add value, motivate and entertain a patient, for example:
- Offer patients to monitor their activity using connected devices and keep a nutrition journal
- Reward for regular app entries (e.g., 5-7 uninterrupted days) with bonus points that can then be transformed into discounts, iTunes music download points, gift cards, and more.
- Give the ability to keep a diary of vital data (blood pressure, heart rate, weight, temperature, blood glucose, etc.), mood and sleep
- Reward for medication intake with the corresponding bonus points
- Presentation of the establishment of objectives with achievements and badges
- Allow social media to share special and happy moments (fight any bad habits, follow a healthy diet, keep up with exercise and more)
Some of these ideas may seem unusual and even excessive for a patient’s application. However, we do not suggest putting them all into application at once, trial and error will be needed to find out the most potent function for the patients of a particular caregiver.
Involve and retain patients
Trust and loyalty are essential to ensure that the app will influence patients and encourage them to seek care services from the provider. Again, several alternatives are possible:
- Nutritional recommendations (recipes, micro and macronutrient wheels, weekly menu plans and more)
- Psychological support with question and answer chat, emergency button and notifications about relevant support groups for patient information
- Physical activity guidelines with sets of daily exercises or 10-minute meditations
By allowing patients to communicate with their provider directly and safely outside the facility, caregivers demonstrate that they are prepared to listen and help 24 hours a day. This is how hearts are won.
Promote the services of suppliers
When patients enjoy using the app and do so regularly, we suggest that the app be valuable. While patients find most of the benefits in basic functions, such as scheduling and lab results, there is a place for promoting subtle service. The key to a successful promotion is to stay personal and relevant with features such as:
- A section of personalized therapeutic education according to the patient’s condition and / or personal goals. It can list suggested procedures and tests to help patients feel better or make sure they have control over their own health. For example, patients may benefit from advice on breast self-monitoring. These tips may also suggest visiting a mammologist annually (in case a patient feels no discomfort) and a quick button to schedule an appointment, for both regular checkups and emergencies.
- Discounts and personalized promotions according to the status and behavior of the patient within the application. For example, when a patient with myopia schedules an appointment with an optometrist or ophthalmologist using their mHealth app, the app may offer a one-time discount for that exam. Patients with wellness goals can receive promotions combined with massages and balneological treatments to stay healthy during the “cough season”.
- Alert center. It can include notifications about updated lab results, medical images, and treatment; reminders of upcoming appointments; recommendations on follow-up appointments, exams and tests.
While patients mostly use an mHealth app to schedule an appointment in an acute case, they also need general health guidance. Useful, specific advice makes patients feel safer and cared for, while direct (and sometimes irrelevant) advertising only irritates.
Make the strategy work
With a medical application for patients, providers design a single point of concentrated interaction with their patients (click here to see how it looks from the patient’s perspective). This interaction should work in both ways and be beneficial to both caregivers and patients. To achieve this, providers must consider the three keys to successful patient application. It should:
- Have fun and be addictive in a positive way, so patients often look for more
- Involve and be reliable, showing care through support functions
- Promote and be informative, enabling suppliers to achieve business objectives in an effective and ethical manner
Balancing these three dimensions in an application is really a challenge, and it’s virtually impossible to escape the erroneous expectations of user behavior and relevant functionality. That is why we have introduced a number of possible functions to meet the challenge and retain patients. Finding the best combination of work will be a journey, but in the end, the harmony of grateful patients and the “green” business is worth it.