What do patients want in mobile health?

appsPOST SUMMARY: To develop a great mobile health app think value to the patient not marketing.  

I just received the final report from some online research into online health apps and although there are differences in utility by health condition the first key point is “patients want value from the app”.  What does that exactly mean?  It means that DTC marketers need to ask two questions from their audience; first, do you find this app useful and second, will you use this app.



The key to developing a useful app is to ensure it allows patients to better mange their health problem and, here is the key, in their opinion.  That means while you may think an app is useful it could fail big time if your audience doesn’t find it useful.

Using the App

79 percent report that they would only retry an app once or twice if it failed to work the first time. Only 16 percent said they would give it more than two attempts.  One in four mobile apps once downloaded is never used again. A study by Localytics (January 2011) found that many apps are downloaded, tried once and then discarded.  In addition of smartphone owners, 68% open only five or fewer apps at least once a week, finds a survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. Seventeen percent don’t use any apps. About 42% of all U.S. adults have phones with apps, Pew estimates.

This means that if you’re going to develop an app you need to conduct extensive user testing and keep improving the experience with each update.

With DTC budgets declining marketers have to decide if the expense of developing an app is really going to help business objectives while also lending value to users.  That’s quite a nut to crack…