Sustaining Engagement with Digital Health Apps

Engagement… 💍 🧑⚕️📱🥰

How many health apps have you tried? How many are you still engaged with? 🤔

Exactly. 🤦

Sustained engagement with digital health apps is a big problem.

While patients may be motivated to use an app due to their illness, sustained engagement is difficult to maintain.

So how can a venture keep patients engaged with their app?

Relying on a great UX and behavioral design won’t be enough. You need to have people engaged with the patients, especially those who fail to adhere to the instruction on how to use it.

Patient engagement needs the support of a team of people, including the physicians, the care team, the HCO, and the vendor.

Here’s an example from one of my research projects…

The hypothesis was give patients a physical therapy app to prevent readmissions.

In the first week, most patients used the app as instructed. By the fourth week, most didn’t.

This was expected. We had an intervention plan. 👍

Nurses reviewed activities in the backend portal. When activities fell below expected metrics (e.g., pain reports, exercises, etc.), they’d step in and coach the patient.

Active engagement with the patients during the study worked. These interventions increased patient engagements over the study period.

While a team of care professionals may not always be possible, there are other means to maintain engagement.

You can use various methods to monitor patient-level engagement, identifying where interventions should be made.

Nudging doesn’t work. Timid reminders are not powerful levers to keep patients on their care path.

Design something stronger, possible include a human touch, and your results should improve.

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