6 Factors to Consider While Marketing Health Apps

by Guest Author on April 16, 2018

in Articles, Guest Posts

The smartphone revolution has changed the way businesses operate today including the healthcare sector. The number of health apps is also on the rise. The global mHealth app market size was valued at USD 4.19 billion in 2016 and is expected to reach USD 111.8 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 44.2%, according to a new report by Grand View Research Inc. In 2016, the highest demand was for apps related to fitness and wellness. However, the demand for fitness apps will decrease as healthcare providers are shifting their focus on other aspects such as women’s health, nutrition, childcare, and medication reminder.

While this rapid development will create new opportunities for mHealth providers, it will also intensify the competition. Approximately 325,000 mobile health apps were available in 2017 with Google Play Store leading the way with 158,000 health apps followed by iOS. Android and iOS are the only two platforms available for maximum outreach. In other words, you must be thoroughly prepared if you want to make your app a huge success.

Here are 6 things you need to consider to make it happen.

1. Target Audience

The first thing you need to do is to define and understand your target audience and what services are you going to offer through your app. It will allow you to provide a better user experience. If you don’t configure your app according to your target audience’s requirement, despite having a large number of downloads, most users will not use it on frequent intervals. For higher customer retention, you need to analyze the targeted traffic.

For example, a healthcare app such as Practo which connects users with nearby doctors and hospitals must be able to map locations accurately, provide convenient appointment schedules, and connect patients with the right doctors. A feature-rich app that fails to deliver what your target audience wants is your worst nightmare. Decent buttons, great visuals, and great core features can only work if they provide exactly what your consumers want.

2. Similar Apps

As mentioned earlier, the competition in mHealth sector is getting fierce by the minute. So, providing your potential users with the best user experience and a feature-rich app is the only way to win their hearts. That’s why you need to know what your competitors are offering to attract consumers. Make sure to learn about their apps from built-in features to marketing approaches.

Studying the similar apps also allows you to present yours in a different way from the rest. You will also be able to find out if your app name is unique. Does it stand out from your competitors? Are the keywords, screens shots, description and other App Store optimization (ASO) factors satisfactory? Find all this information and plan your marketing strategy accordingly. However, try to make your app as compatible as possible without being a copycat. Remember, any act of falsification, plagiarism or piracy can land you in hot waters.

3. Hardware Compatibility

When it comes to mobile apps, stunning user experience is a must. Hardware compatibility plays a crucial role in providing a seamless user experience. As your target audience is likely to use different devices including smartphones, tablets, laptops and even desktops, it is necessary that your app is compatible with any of those.

For example, a medication reminder app is more likely to be optimized for smartphones. While patient health monitoring app designed for hospital staff is more likely to be optimized for tablets as doctors and nurses will prefer viewing expanded information on the screen. Most smartphone apps can work smoothly on tablets as well. The real challenge is developing an app that works across desktops and mobile devices without any glitches.

4. Accessibility and Inter-Operability

Interoperability is the ability to safely, securely, and effectively exchange and use information, not only between two devices but also different software technologies and systems. Most hospitals and healthcare organizations have medical scheduling and management software based out of a cloud. Your app needs to be compatible with such third party software and cloud-based services. Some healthcare enterprise, however, may still use standalone software. In such case, your app needs to compatible with the existing software setup.

Users should be able to display, store, interpret, and analyze the information shared through your app on any of these platforms. Different users will prefer to have different user interfaces especially if your app will connect different healthcare professionals including doctors, nurses, ward boys, administrative staff, and the patients. All of them should have seamless access to the app.

5. Data Security

Data security is one of the imminent threats that concern users as well as app developers. Most apps require users to share sensitive personal information including mobile numbers, emails, medical records, and insurance details. Naturally, they will expect you (as an app developer) to maintain the highest security standards.

The app will be sharing tons of data across various devices via cloud exposing it to several different vulnerabilities. Apart from ensuring end-to-end encryption, you also need to send the data over secured communication channels only. Your servers must be built for speed as well as security.

Cybercriminals are also using fake app versions to expose unsuspecting users to data theft. They can obtain a public copy of a mobile app and reverse-engineer it to create a malicious fake version. You need to make your potential users aware of such activities and other potential security risks. Make the app device-risk-aware to detect any an unsecured device before installation as it will add an additional layer of security.

6. FDA Approval

Most app developers are unaware of this factor as most apps don’t require Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval and regulation. However, just because your app falls within general market segment doesn’t mean it may not need FDA approval. According to the FDA’s latest guidance document, the following medical apps need clearance.

  • Mobile apps that transform a mobile platform into a regulated medical device. These apps will use built-in device features such as touch screen or camera to perform medical device functions. For example, a mobile app designed to detect the heartbeats (electrocardiograph or ECG) of a patient.
  • Mobile apps that connect to an existing device for purposes of controlling its operation, function or energy source. For example, mobile apps that can adjust the settings of an implant or device which in turn controls blood pressure or blood sugar.
  • Mobile apps that are used in active patient monitoring or analyzing patient-specific medical device data from a connected device. These include apps directly connecting to the prenatal monitoring system.

If your app intends to provide access to medical textbooks and reference materials, monitor general office functions, generic aids or general purpose products, it may not need FDA approval or regulation.

Wrapping Up

Hundreds of new mobile medical apps are added to the leading app stores every month. In this fiercely competitive market, just the number of downloads isn’t going to measure the success of your app. Several factors such as user interface, functionality, engagement, and data security will define the success of your app. Understanding all the above factors will help you get the maximum bang for your buck when marketing your mHealth app. Please feel free to share experiences, suggestions, and views in the comments section below.

Guest article written by: Rose Martin loves to share her insights and perspectives by blogging on business planning, entrepreneurship, investment and technology. Rose is also interested in music, fitness and art. In spare time, she loves to spend time with family and friends. Reach out to her at martinrrrose[AT]gmail[DOT]com.

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