Three Considerations For Building a Meaningful Health App

With venture capital and angel investments pouring into health tech, there are more health apps than ever before.  Some of these app developers know tech and some know health, but very few know both health and tech well enough to create apps that drive meaningful changes to health outcomes and consumer behavior.

Here are three things to consider when building a health app intended to drive behavior change and stickiness.

1)   Talk to Physicians and Providers – Most companies are already talking to consumers to understand their preferences.  Many consumers like the idea of the Quantified Self and having access to lots of data.  However, many doctors don’t have time or any incentive to do anything with that data. But there’s hope. With the shift to value-based care, physicians may soon have more incentive to review such data to provide better care.  App developers should talk to doctors to understand what type of data would help them and their preferences on frequency and user experience.

2)   Pick a Target Audience – Sick or Healthy PeopleWhile it is possible to try and serve everyone, I believe regularly engaging chronically ill and health-conscious people with your app will require different strategiesWhile healthy people may be more pre-disposed to want to engage in a healthier lifestyle and the associated tracking and monitoring that comes with that, the chronically ill don’t want to be reminded that they are sick.  Rather, they want to think less about their illness or condition.  Consequently, effective strategies to engage both of these groups are quite different.

3)   Study Behavior Change and Habit FormationRome wasn’t built in a day. And neither are habits.  App developers should seek to understand the psychology of behavior change and how their apps can support small, incremental changes that nudge consumers to make minor modifications that lead to lasting behavior modification.