Digital health apps are gaining increasing traction amongst consumers, as patients are interested in tools that are fast, user-friendly, and tailored to their health needs. Mobile health (mHealth) apps that can address areas such as appointment scheduling, prescription filling, finding local providers and specialists, and payment processing are in high demand, however, 62% of patients report they are unable to accomplish their needs with these tools . The responsibility of improving the digital customer experience rests upon all branches of the network — healthcare organizations, medical device businesses, insurance companies etc. But what about the health startups creating these digital products — how can consumer concerns be addressed and reflected in these mHealth apps and devices?
The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions (DCHS) recently conducted a national, representative survey of U.S. adults to determine trends in health care consumer engagement. They found the following:
1) Consumers who track their health data using wearable devices (e.g. smartwatches, fitness trackers, etc.) has more than doubled since 2013.
2) Consumers are using quality ratings to compare convenience, cost, and reputation of medical professionals more often than in previous years.
3) Consumers are becoming increasingly open to new channels of care (e.g. at-home diagnostic tests) to identify potential and future health risks.
From the trends listed above, it is most important for health startups to consider these two points when modifying their consumer engagement strategy:
- Tools that are flexible can meet the changing needs of consumers as they transition through various life stages, diseases states, and/or health statuses.
- Tools that create a seamless experience can better connect patients, providers, and the care teams.
The improvement of mHealth tools and software platforms should mirror the evolution of consumer interests. It is crucial that developers recognize and cater to the various needs of their customers, because different users seek different benefits. For example, while patients expect convenience, cost-savings, and coordination of care across health providers and facilities, physicians desire simplification of workflow, accuracy and reliability of patient data, and cybersecurity. As digital health startups develop and improve their products, they must prioritize identifying consumer needs in order to better user experience and improve overall health outcomes.