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We Know Why Your mHealth Initiatives Are Failing


Why is Becker’s Hospital Review talking about music mogul Jay Z? As it turns out, the entrepreneur — who has enjoyed a Midas touch (and a net worth of $550 million) in his forays into fashion, sports management and more —  may have slipped up with the launch of the music streaming app, Tidal. And his missteps help shine a light on why healthcare consumerism is forcing hospitals and other healthcare providers to change how they roll out new mHealth initiatives.

Why Tidal Hasn’t Made Waves with Consumers

Music streaming has increased in popularity, and there are plenty of players in the market to prove it — Pandora, Spotify, Google Music, Songza, Slacker, and, now, Apple has announced the upcoming launch of a new streaming service. But a big name attached to a new app launch is no guarantee of success.

As Becker’s Hospital Review noted, Jay Z’s launch of Tidal generated more negative than positive buzz and quickly lost momentum, declining from the 19th most downloaded app to a dismal 644th place within a month. The reason?  Price and poor marketing. 

With some of the most popular streaming services offering free, ad-supported listening, launching with paid only options likely contributed to Tidal’s rapid decline in popularity, but the bigger culprit has been an “ill-delivered marketing campaign.” Streaming services like Spotify pay artists just pennies per stream, so the intent of Tidal to improve artist compensation is a good one. However, as one musician, Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie, told Business Insider, “I think they totally blew it by bringing out a bunch of millionaires and billionaires and propping them up on stage and then having them all complain about not being paid.”

It’s not as easy to make the argument that artists are underpaid when the representatives that take the stage are the likes of Madonna, Beyoncé and Rihanna. Moreover, the promise of exclusive content — which was available at the initial app launch — quickly fell short as time went on, eliminating one of the main incentives for choosing a paid service.

What Hospitals Need to Do to Improve mHealth Adoption

Like Jay-Z hoped to woo music fans to his streaming service, hospitals are striving to attract consumers to their mHealth initiatives — and many of them are meeting with similar apathy.

In order to develop mHealth initiatives that actually thrive, hospitals must recognize healthcare consumerism and more effectively engage prospective users of their apps, portals or other patient-oriented solutions.  Three areas to focus on are:

1. Relevance

“If you build it, they will come” is not a recommended strategy.  You can build a world-class app, but if consumers are not aware of it, or do not perceive a need for it, they will not use it.  The 2015 c2b Consumer Diagnostic,c2b solutions’ annual study of the U.S. healthcare consumer, looked at consumer usage of the top 67 health, wellness and fitness apps, and found that 82% of the general population had not downloaded and regularly used such an app.  Certain segments of the population used such apps more heavily, but the top apps (e.g., 7 Minute Workout, CVS Pharmacy) were only used by 7% of a given segment.

Retailers have been perfecting the art of treating customers like individuals for decades, but healthcare providers are more accustomed to classifying patients in broad segments like demographics or a common diagnosis. Marketing campaigns that treat healthcare consumers like a homogenous group will not drive engagement levels that hospitals hope to see. The use of psychographic segmentation to better understand individual behaviors, motivations and attitudes towards health and wellness can help hospitals refine their marketing campaigns to target the most likely users or create custom communications to drive a greater return on engagement across different segments.

2. Brand Recognition

A name does matter. Jay-Z’s fame is probably what boosted the initial response to Tidal’s release into the top 20 territory. Likewise, the National Research Corp’s 2014 Market Insights Study of National Brands found that familiarity with a hospital brand influenced healthcare consumer decisions:

  • 1 in 3 consumers say they would use the most familiar hospital brand for surgery or treatment.
  • 77 percent of consumers would recommend the most familiar brand to their friends and family.
  • More than half of consumers associated a positive brand identity with quality.

But this is no time to rest on your hospital’s laurels. Well-known healthcare brands, such as the Mayo Clinic, may rise to the top of the list because healthcare consumers respect a stellar reputation, but the best brands stay at the top because they offer useful products or information, along with great customer service and support.

3. Price

With the introduction of the health insurance marketplace, and healthcare price transparency sites like Alithias consumers have gained experience shopping for healthcare. As a result, they increasingly look for the kind of price transparency that is typical in their retail transactions, and an app that can help in this capacity can be very useful.  In addition to price, they are also comparing hospitals based on a combination of quality and safety, using a growing number of resources, such as the Leapfrog Group’s Hospital Safety Score website, to evaluate healthcare providers. The same is true for mHealth apps: Consumer reviews on an app’s usefulness, ease-of-use and more can influence whether consumers engage. 

To avoid an mHealth roll-out that sinks after an initial wave of buzz, hospitals need to make sure that their marketing connects with healthcare consumers on several levels. In addition, hospitals need to provide the right support structure for mHealth — from providing patient education on its use to encouraging adoption by doctors and other caregivers. Until then, you’ll just be designing really expensive apps that end up in consumer no-man’s-land.

For more information on meeting the needs of your healthcare consumers, download our whitepaper to learn more or contact c2b solutions to arrange a consultation.

Psychographic Segmentation and its Practical Application in Patient Engagement and Behavior Change


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