The push for value-based healthcare—higher quality, better access, and lower cost—has opened up the door for technology to automate elements of care at a much lower cost.
In the last few years, there has been a proliferation of mobile applications in the healthcare space—evidenced by the more than 165,000 health apps available in the app stores. Providers are starting to jump on board with a move to tech—a recent MGMA survey found that one in five providers is “prescribing” health-related apps to their patients—and expect this number to rise.
However, there is a key trend appearing: It is one thing for the technology to be available, but in order for it to be effective, sustained usage by patients is key. According to Accenture, “hospitals have only engaged 2% of their population using mobile apps.”
Engagement is a key metric to determine if mobile technologies are being used effectively. Analytics company Localytics measures engagement as the percentage of an app’s users who have over 10 sessions a month. Across all types of apps, not just healthcare, engagement was measured at 31%. In healthcare, engagement tends to be high after the initial download of an app or purchase of a device, but starts to drop off over time
Ultimately, if healthcare apps and digital health companies want to be effective, it must also have sustained engagement, meaning it can command high engagement over a long period of time. If a healthcare provider is relying on a diabetes app to manage a patient’s chronic condition, it would be essential for the app to be used over a long period of time to be deemed effective.
Here are six key takeaways on how to create a long-term sustained patient engagement strategy for a healthcare technology platform and obtain better outcomes for both patients and providers:
1. Know your audience
We all know that a 21-year-old woman and a 65-year-old man are very different, and likely have very different behaviors around technology. The Pew Research Center looked at smartphone ownership in the U.S. and found that only 42% of people over the age of 65 own a smartphone, but when you look at the 18-29 demographic, that rate jumps to 92%.