Engaging Patients with your mHealth Offering: Step One

At Axial, we help our clients deliver branded mobile applications that empower patients with health information, provider directories, and tools to track their health.  These tools offer health care providers a view into which of their patients is actively engaged in the management of their health, and the ability to include this patient-collected biometric data in the patient's record.  

What good are these capabilities if patients don’t use them?

We focus our clients on three metrics:  Reach, Retention, and Self-care.  Reach is a measure of the number of patients, staff, and consumers who become aware of their hospital's mobile application offering and subsequently download the smartphone component from the Apple or Google stores.  Retention is a count of those users who continue to access features in the application on a regular basis in the months following the first download.  Self-care is a measure of those users who actively use the health trackers to collect their vital biometric information - the strongest indicator of patient engagement.

In part 1 of this blog series, I will focus on how we help our clients achieve Reach:

1.  Announce the launch of your mobile health initiative.

  • Send out a press release to local media that includes links to the app stores for easy click through.  Don’t forget to target your doctors, nurses, and staff as the tools will help them navigate your system and track their own health.  If you manage your own health plan for your employees, this may be the first place to start in order to reap the full  benefits of an engaged patient.
  • Create landing pages that target specific patient benefits that link to your website to provide valuable targeted messaging.  Not all patients are alike.
  • If you don’t already use social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), start now. Employ campaigns that direct readers to specific landing pages.
  • Leverage all of the tools you would use to announce a new service line or a new location - web, radio, television, and print.  Include consistent messaging regarding your new mobile offering in all existing ads and campaigns.

2.  Steer online visitors to your offering using digital marketing tools.

  • Include app store download icons with specific call-to-action on all major website pages, blogs, newsletters, and email campaigns.

                       

  • Install a smart-banner on your mobile website to grab users visiting your site from a smartphone.

  • Optimize search terms in the app store to achieve high visibility from in-store searches. Be sure to include the terms most familiar to your community.
  • Add a website overlay to increase awareness and drive traffic to your landing pages.

3.  Encourage provider and staff participation.  Every employee is an ambassador of your system and of good health practices.  Engage them.

  • Promote the initiative during internal staff meetings and on your Intranet.
  • Meet with the leadership of each specialty care center highlighting specific features relevant to their patient population.  Highlight the potential of capturing this remotely collected data into their care programs.
  • Get internal thought leaders to become super users. Have your chief of primary care talk about how she is using the health trackers to support her own health goals.
  • Advertise the convenience of the on-board directory for connecting with co-workers and network physicians.
  • Incorporate the mHealth tools into employee wellness programs and contests.

4.  Communicate with your patients in the places they most frequent.

  • Include an mHealth theme during all community health outreach programs, such as booths at health fairs or heart health events at shopping malls.
  • Provide appointment cards at all ambulatory centers that promote the benefits of your mobile application and where to get it.
  • Place signage in waiting rooms that direct patients to the app store at the precise time they are looking for a way to kill some time.

These are strategies that will maximize the Reach of your mHealth program - getting the most patients and prospective patients in your community to download your offering on their smartphone.  In Part 2, I will focus on the strategies we use to maximize Retention - keeping them coming back, month after month.