The world of healthcare is in a state of flux (to say the least), but there is one thing that healthcare marketers can be sure of: mobile marketing is here to stay. In fact, one might even argue that mobile marketing is the most important healthcare marketing channel for hospitals, providers, payers, and other health-related organizations.
As with any new tactic, though, it’s important to understand the trends that are driving the best results. As we move toward the mid-point of 2017, here are some of the mobile health trends taking shape.
1. Think Mobile First
The vast majority of consumers (healthcare and otherwise) own and use a smartphone — and use it more often than a desktop or laptop computer. In fact, most people are more likely to make first contact with your organization using a mobile device, and will use their device to connect with you via phone, email, or social media.
For this reason, when thinking about your web presence or development of consumer-facing apps, you need to think about mobile first and desktop second. This might mean moving your healthcare app design to the top of the priority list, as well as developing a mobile-friendly website.
2. Location Based Marketing
Location-based marketing is already being widely used in retail. When shoppers download a specific app or opt-in to a messaging service, and then enter a store and move within range of beacons, they will receive alerts related to the store; for example, they might receive a discount coupon or information about current sales.
Healthcare facilities are beginning to see the value in this type of marketing for driving customers into the organization. Using geofencing technology, facilities can target smartphone users who are within physical proximity of the building and send targeted messages via social media or opt-in messaging services. Location-based marketing can also be incorporated into a healthcare app.
When a patient or family member who has downloaded the app enters your building, you can send marketing messages related to services, offer help, or even offer specials in the coffee or gift shop. This type of marketing can drive both engagement and satisfaction, while also increasing revenue.
3. User Experience Matters
Across the board in application design, user experience should be a top priority. With the majority of apps abandoned within the first month of being downloaded, mobile health developers need to be focused on how to deliver a positive user experience from the very first login, and providing value to users to keep them engaged. Apps must be user-friendly (i.e. simple – with a clear purpose, necessary features, and interesting content).
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4. AI Is Beginning to Reach Apps
Artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to transform the entire healthcare delivery system — and it’s already showing up in apps. Application developers are working on algorithms that can not only capture data, but also use that data to provide actionable insights.
For instance, a physician may recommend an app that collects information about your blood pressure and heart rate, as well as your daily exercise and nutrition. Based on the information entered, the app will analyze your progress and make any necessary recommendations, while also transmitting the information to your physician and triggering alerts when something needs to be addressed.
Apps are only going to continue to get smarter, and it’s worth considering now how you can incorporate AI into your offerings.
5. Apps Will Become a Part of the Patient Care Continuum
More providers than ever before are recommending apps for their patients, for everything from medication management to chronic disease management.
Mobile solutions give patients more tools to be actively involved and engaged in their own health management, while also streamlining the delivery of care.
From apps that use wireless sensors to collect vital health data (check out one of our projects for St. Jude Medical / Abbott in this area), to telemedicine apps that connect patients with physicians via video chat for minor ailments, to electronic records applications that give providers the information they need wherever they happen to be, apps are soon going to become as commonplace in healthcare as stethoscopes and thermometers.
In the overall scope of things, mobile health is a relatively new phenomenon in healthcare. However, it has the potential to be the most disruptive phenomenon since the discovery of antibiotics. With an understanding of these trends, you’ll be better positioned to develop an effective mobile strategy, and drive both increased revenues and better clinical outcomes.
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