Do patients want apps to remind them to stay compliant ?

misconceptionThere is a misconception within marketing that just because people are using a certain technology or going to a certain website that they want marketers to follow them there.  The rule seems to be for startups “build it, get a mass audience & then intrude and interrupt consumers when they are there”.  For pharma marketers agencies are trying tell them to “get into mobile marketing” because “mobile marketing is growing rapidly and is where the eyeballs are”.  This is far from reality and far from the truth.

Application marketing is not easy.  Pinch Media reports that only 30 percent of iPhone apps are used beyond the day they are downloaded or purchased, and after 20 days that number plummets to around five percent.  Mobile app users are a fickle bunch: while they’re willing to give new apps a try, 26 percent of the time the apps never get a second shot, according to a study by the analytics firm Localytics.

The big takeaway from the news for mobile app developers is that first impressions of your app matter greatly, and you should also pay more attention to the number of people who keep using your apps, instead of just looking at download statistics.

In addition research has shown that people with certain healthcare conditions do not like to be “reminded” that they are sick by applications that pop up and tell them to stay compliant and take their medication.  What I have learned is that, however, it varies by health condition.  For example, people with Type 1 diabetes are more likely to like an app that helps them stay compliant in doing things like checking their blood glucose levels.  The other side of this is that people who have other health conditions like high blood pressure or high cholesterol do not like apps reminding them to stay compliant.

So should pharma open the door to app marketing ?  It depends on how well you know the wants and needs of your audience. However there are some guidelines that require a lot more attention to app marketing:

(1) Extensive research in determining value to users (target audience) as well as usability research to determine if the app meets the users expectations on use and value.

(2) You need to hire an agency that can not only develop the app but also can update as necessary to ensure the app stays up to date as new operating systems are released.

(3) While ROI is important you need to think more about user needs and then build in a back end analytic solution that clearly shows how the app is adding to business and brand objectives.  This means going beyond the number of people who download the app and showing a straight line to ROI.

Key takeaway:

Application marketing can be a valuable tool if marketers do the legwork necessary to ensure that patients want to use them and that they are indeed a valuable resource to help them better manage their health without being intrusive.

8 thoughts on “Do patients want apps to remind them to stay compliant ?

  1. This article supports what we’ve experienced in building mHealth services. The challenge is that no two patients are the same. We’ve found some like to be reminded to take medications, others just want to be able to have at hand a current medication list. Others want to record how well they are feeling or to enter bio-metric data. Medication management tools need to be flexible enough to fit a wide variety of patients with multiple medical conditions. Reminders are just the start, to change behaviors the patient needs to see a summary of their actions, including compliance rates. This helps them to make educated decisions, which isn’t possible to do with a suite of disconnected apps from a variety of vendors.

  2. I’m both a healthcare communicator and patient whose life is dependent on a life-saving drug. I have participated in multiple focus groups for marketers and have also sat in presentations by and for medical and pharma professionals. In general, those either selling or prescribing the drugs discuss the patient’s “non-compliance” as if the patient is an idiot or irresponsible. Patients, on the other hand, teach each other WHY compliance is necessary, the consequences of non-compliance and the techniques needs to mitigate the side effects that result from being compliant. In short, there is a huge disconnect and until those who profit from patients start having open ended conversations to find out what they really care about the disconnect will continue. No app will fix that problem. Tools are needed that educate patients, enable them to manage their own health on their own terms, are compatible with other tools, and don’t report data back to the company that gave them the tool.

  3. Thanks for the thinking on this article. Good info. One thing I always wonder about is why SMS is overlooked so much in the pharma space. Apps are the “bright new shiny object” and get most of the attention in mobile, when SMS is the workhorse, simple and can be much more effective. Instead of spending unnecessarily on apps, how about creating an option for the patient to “Text (keyword) to (shortcode) and receive a quick daily reminder on your phone”. Or “text (keyword) to (shortcode) to be updated when new product information is available online, then link to a website? It can be a much better user experience and it is most certainly less expensive then building an app that may launch with some fanfare, but then fades away into oblivion.

  4. I really like Pat’s point. Definitely evident that Pat see’s it from the perspective of a patient and marketer.

    I’m curious why you wouldn’t want the app to report the data back to the company. I’m all for privacy but as a marketer, I also know the power of data driven insights. The insights that can be collected by monitoring how patients interact with technology could really lead to some break-throughs in adherence, in my opinion.

    Curious to hear what every one else thinks…

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