mHealth apps can be powerful tools for helping patients manage chronic disease, but not all applications are created equal, especially when the goal is to engage adolescents.
It’s no surprise, but adolescents – typically defined as young people ages 11 to 21 – use and react to their smartphones (and the apps that live on them) differently than other age groups. Research tells us they are far more reliant on these devices for social interaction, communication, education, and entertainment. To this point:
- 71% of teens use more than one social media app / site.
- 55% of teens text their friends every day, while just 25% spend time with friends in person (outside of school) on a daily basis.
- ~70% teen smartphone users spend at least three hours per day watching video on their phones.
Research also suggests that adolescents respond best to mobile / digital experiences that are:
- Easy-to-use and easy-to-understand;
- Educational; and
So, how can your healthcare organization develop an mhealth app that drives the kind of positive behavior change you want – things like self-management, medication adherence, and smart resource utilization – while, simultaneously, giving adolescent patients a tool they’ll look forward to engaging with over the long term? The UI / UX design experts at PointClear Solutions suggest:
1. Deliver a delightful user experience.
This means making your mhealth app easy to find and download; easy to enroll in; and easy to use. Simple navigation, familiar iconography (think thumbs up for a “like”), vibrant colors, and rich, relatable imagery can also be especially attractive to young users.
2. Make it personal.
In addition to providing access to PHI, add features that can be customized to reflect the user’s personality, like the ability to create a personal bitmoji or upload a favorite ringtone to remind him/her to get active or take a pill.
3. Make it educational.
While it may be easiest to pass educational information through parents, today’s adolescents live in a Google world, which means they want information when they want it. Providing your younger patients with content about their condition via app helps assure they get the right information from the right resource when it’s convenient for them. And don’t forget to think beyond words on a screen…videos and games that teach and reinforce learning can prove powerful with teens.
4. Make it motivational.
Today’s adolescents not only want, but also expect a social component to accompany the apps they use. Private / protected support groups and the ability to share successes with family and friends can be vital to getting and keeping young patients engaged.
Most importantly, begin with user research. While it’s easy to think you know exactly what your young patients want and need in an app, validating assumptions and changing course, as needed, will save you time, money, and frustration down the road.
To learn more about this topic or to connect with one of PointClear Solutions’ technology experts about our digital strategy, design, development, and/or management services, Contact Us. (And don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn for more great content!)
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