mHealth Apps: Brands missing both ends of the Patient Journey

mHealth Apps. As the saying goes, so much sound and fury signifying nothing. The stats are abysmal: 26% of health apps used only once 75% of all Apps get deleted within 3 months due to people not want to spend the time learning how to use them* 90% abandonment after 6 months** 57% of apps brought in fewer than 500 downloads** Just look at what IMS uncovered in an incredibly thorough mHealth App analysis last fall. Over 46,000 health-related Apps reviewed. Even with the rush-to-App that has occurred, there is a chasm between the good intentions of the Brand/Company and the needs of the patient. This chasm can be overcome. Frankly, to avoid irrelevance, it must be overcome. As with most marketing, it means using common sense, but it is not easy. As with many corporate marketers, they must look beyond the obvious opportunity to the human reality. The first problem is that even with a good User Experience, most Brand Apps crow about how helpful they are, and how important it is to track and monitor. And yes, that is important…early on, with the newly diagnosed, newly treating.   Thus, the majority of mHealth Apps are focused on functional recording of the person and their condition. Sure that works for a while, but we humans are tricky — we change. We evolve. Even the person who lead the IMS study, Murray Aiken, noted: “Researchers observed that the beginning of the patient journey is front-loaded with Apps, but as consumers soldier on, help becomes harder to find.”** The true patient insight is best captured by a Social Listening quote I once read from a Stage III Breast Cancer patient. It all comes down to recognizing and planning for the eventual emotional and spiritual evolution of the “sick person”. Why is poor adherence so universal across conditions? There are many reasons — but a big one? People do not like thinking of themselves as a “sick person”. Same with App abandonment. All that recording, monitoring, checking and logging eventually leads to an obvious insight: “I am not my sickness.” I even asked some psychologists to review a dozen well-known mHealth Apps with me and discuss their view. Here is a sample of what they told me: Since this is just the beginning of the Digital Era/mHealth, this is actually the right time to experiment, fail, learn from it and get it right. For clients, don’t fall in love with the idea you had, but the need you can serve. When planning for an mHealth App to support your patients, simple view it through the Patient Journey, in it’s simplest form. If your mHealth App does not litmus test itself against the Patient Journey, then stop and re-visit the project. To be reminded of the human point-of-view, I would put this on my wall to challenge myself:                   I leave you with one mHealth App (in Beta) that embraces this evolution of the human being from”sick person” to “new normal.” StandWith (). This App offers all the functional tools, but also provides the ability to — and here is where the evolution of need occurs, especially for the chronic patient — buy groceries, gifts, get a cab. In other words, it let’s you live. Do yourself the favor and read this inspirational article: http://www.fastcompany.com/3030134/most-creative-people/standwith-is-fuck-cancers-solution-for-people-who-ask-how-can-i-help     * Pew Internet Trust, 2012 (http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/topics/health) ** IMS mHealth App study, 2013 (http://www.imshealth.com/portal/site/imshealth)

*Pew Internet Trust, 2012 **IMS Health, 2013

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