Mobile technology has tremendous potential to improve the quality of healthcare delivered. Understanding the nature of the healthcare ecosystem is essential if you want your mhealth product/initiative to be a success.
The following mistakes should be avoided when developing a mhealth product:
- Developing technology just because it seems cool to the developer: Avoid this most common mistake made by technologists. Don’t think that the coolness factor of your latest mobile device or app is going to be the main criteria for buying it. Keep its usefulness to potential users in mind when you design your products.
- Not getting provider buy in: Getting input from physicians and other healthcare professionals is important in designing a solution. Your product has to be functional and beneficial to their practice and their patients. Learn their workflow. Does your solution increase productivity, optimize workflow, improve revenue, improve note taking or help deliver higher quality of patient care? Does your solution need to integrate with other software in their practice? Busy doctors are already bombarded with tons of data. Dumping more data from health apps on their plate isn’t going to help them unless the data is actionable. Understand their pain points and then design your products to meet their needs.
- Not closing the feedback loop: This is especially important when developing mhealth apps for consumers and it also reinforces the provider buy-in point. Patients find more value in using a mhealth app regularly if it is recommended by their doctor and they receive feedback from their doctor about the data the app collects.
- Forgetting about reimbursement (alignment of provider-payee incentives): Healthcare is a complex organism with so many disparate parts. In the US it is the only sector where there is a third party (insurance company) between the service provider and the person receiving the service. Understanding that Medicare/Medicaid and third party insurance reimbursement plays a key role in the delivery or healthcare is absolutely critical. Marketing healthcare products directly to consumers without insurance paying for it is a difficult sell.
- Make it complex to use: Keep the technology simple, and easy to use. All those fancy features may seem appealing to your technologically savvy brain, but remember that you are designing products for busy professionals/patients who may not be as tech savvy as you nor are they interested in all those fancy bells and whistles in your product. All they care is whether your solution is easy to use and gets the job done. Many times it is necessary to remove extraneous features to make the product more appealing to users.
- Overlooking Security: Healthcare is a highly regulated industry wherein patient data security is mandated under federal (HIPAA) regulations and State Health laws. Knowing the data security compliance requirements is extremely important if you want your technology to have a chance to succeed in the healthcare space.
- Not realizing that it’s about the service, not the technology. Healthcare is a service business. Technology is an enabler that allows healthcare providers to improve the quality of service and patient care delivered. Any new mobile health technology has to be an invisible part of the total service provided. Understanding how the mobile technology fits in to the whole patient care( service) equation is key in delivering value to both physicians and patients.