Today, there are an estimated 160,000+ health apps available for smart phones. Very few have really made it into the mainstream and even fewer have had a lasting effect on patient/user wellbeing. There are many explanations for this. Following are a few key ones
· Many health apps require data entry which is tedious and boring (for more details click here).
· Many health apps suffer from poor usability and navigation. Specifically they are not well designed for poorer, older and more vulnerable populations (for more details click here).
· There is an ongoing disconnect between the makers of apps (pharma, biotech,…) who tend to focus on products and diseases vs. what the actual market wants and needs (e.g. weight loss, fitness,…). Click here for more details.
· Many apps are simply poorly designed, incomplete, not regularly updated or offer no compelling reason for users to return. Content is often dry, dull and uninspiring.
· Too many health apps competing with each other for the user’s attention. According to a study by the Journal of Medical Internet Research, more than half of US smart phone users have at least one health app on their phone, and over 40% have five or more. Hardly any are getting regularly used.
· The problem is not geographically limited either. In spite of its red hot and booming Mobile Health market, even China is experiencing a massive wave of failed healthcare apps. (Click here for more details)
A common theme across all these app failures is their inability to create & sustain patient engagement. In fact, a recent study from the Commonwealth Fund tried to identify Apps which were capable of engaging patients who had medical conditions. The results below suggest that only a fraction of available health apps can truly claim to be suitable for patient use.
Above all, patient engagement revolves around having a series of meaningful, personalized and ongoing conversations between caregivers and patients. This simply cannot be achieved with face-to-face time (not cost effective), e-mails/phone calls (too cumbersome), or even apps (too narrow & difficult to use/access).
While a great many resources have been invested in the past 6 years into the development of health apps, not all of these deserve to be thrown away. In fact, many are simply missing a layer of integration/connectivity and conversational capabilities. This is where chatbots can play a critical role.
Because of their near-universality (over 1 billion Facebook Messenger monthly users), their ability to interface using various APIs, and their remarkable ease of use (made ever greater through rapidly evolving AI technology), chatbots stand at the crossroads of technology, usability, and patient engagement. Perfect for Healthcare apps in desperate need of a second chance. By bringing a dynamic conversational dimension to flat or hard-to-interface-with health applications, chatbots can bring new life to floundering and under-used apps.
At Medtech Mojo, we are developing a Healthcare-dedicated patient engagement platform that is based on the very latest Chatbot technologies and capabilities. With our combined 45+ years of Medtech & Pharma experience, Pascal Malengrez and I are creating a digital health platform that enables anyone across the Healthcare spectrum to quickly and easily create their own Chatbot in a mere hours. Zero programming required. To learn more about how your health app(s) can get a new lease on life through chatbot technology or to register as one of the early Beta users, just click MojoBots.
Andrew Hyncik is an International Strategic Marketing & Product Development veteran with 20+ years of experience in the MedTech, Healthcare and Pharma industries. For more Medtech insights and original articles, visit Medtech MojoBetter yet, try our very own Medtech Mojo chatbot here
Andrew Hyncik and Pascal Malengrez are International Strategic Marketing & Product Development leaders who amplify classical medtech marketing with digital startup thinking.