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4 Keys to mHealth Success in a Data-Driven World

From your friends at OysterLabs & Mana Health

Healthcare transformation is underway, and mobile is changing everything about how we interact with each other. What do you need to do to be ready?   

By the end of 2016, CMS will mandate that at least 30% of fee-for-service Medicare payments will be tied to value through accountable care organizations or bundled payment arrangements. By the end of 2018, that number will increase to 50% (1).

At the same time mobile is changing the way patients expect to interact with their care providers, and how providers interact with their organization. Bringing this “always connected” experience to healthcare is a huge challenge, but it comes with great opportunity as well. As an example, the US patient monitoring market is projected to grow to over $5 billion by 2020, due to the most notable expansion within the telehealth market (2). These are big numbers driven by continued movement of technology to support the more connected patient, a proposition heavily driven by mobile access to healthcare services.

To accelerate your mobile strategy and let innovation flourish, here are 4 keys to success to get you on the right path: 

1) "Move Fast and Break Things”

Do you have the one app to rule them all? In healthcare, the likely answer is probably not. A better answer is to use the Facebook adage of “move fast and break things” to find your strategy for mobile. Some of the best apps are simple, and solve the problem that is intended without a ton of clutter. Are you focused on being a partner through a pregnancy, managing a chronic condition like diabetes, or handling an efficient telemedicine session? Focus on the core and make it work, then build more value around that experience that works. Think about Uber as a great example, as it solved a key transportation problem and now is being embedded in other experiences. It’s all about boiling things down to the key need and how you solve it. Enlist the help of a company that can help you get data from users early in the process and tune what is driving engagement. Following an agile development approach will give you the most flexibility.

Be agile, and don’t be afraid to break things.

“We find that many companies will change about 40% of their initial requirements during an iterative development plan based upon learnings along the way,” says Howard Olah-Reiken, Mobile Solutions Architect at OysterLabs.

2) Design for today, while anticipating tomorrow.

User experience is a critical aspect of mHealth development that involves iteration, but it's amazing how often this is overlooked or under emphasized. If you designed your app 2 years ago and it is still sitting out there it will look and feel stale. UX and design approaches are rapidly evolving, so you have to evolve with the market. One great approach is to think about what apps are working well for your audience and be inspired by them. Likely these are not health apps but they are apps used by your target audience. Put those inspirations on your wall constantly and discuss them when you speak to your experience designers. You can use that inspiration and re-imagine it as you iterate your experience.  Your UX partner should be thinking forward also about how design thinking is evolving and will impact your experience.

“I like to think about future platforms that will matter to this audience,” says Mary Elise Chavez, VP of Creative Strategy at OysterLabs. “If Apple Watch or other wearables are part of your vision, how do they add distinct value to the customer experience you're delivering? Clearly identifying a holistic design roadmap is critical to developing a solid product plan.”  

3) Get your health data under control, and don’t put your infrastructure last.

In healthcare, the value that we create is directly related to the data that drives the experience. But, having an ocean of data available to you doesn’t do you any good if you spend all your time figuring out how to extract it and make it usable. Within healthcare systems, this data isn't often located in single databases or facilities. Patients travel, hospitals merge and medical record vendors compete. The end result is massive data fragmentation. Beyond this, you need to know all the requirements for HIPAA and go beyond that to secure this important data. On top of this, we are learning that a great deal of important data is outside the healthcare system, generated by patients themselves. Unifying this data together with clinical data is a huge challenge for each application that wants the best possible picture of their intended user.

To make it easier, there are platforms available that can help you manage tough issues like HIPAA-Compliance, and integrating many sources of data from Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and other clinical systems. These systems can be used to integrate patient-generated data and device data with clinical data so that all of it is easily accessible to your application. They might be an option for you to avoid spending too much of your capital on integration of data rather than how you plan to use that data to solve the big problem you want to solve. There is great movement in the industry now toward standardization with protocols like FHIR, which is a great direction for our industry. These standards will take some time to develop so in the meantime look for platforms that embrace standardized outputs like JSON and allow you the flexibility to evolve your data model over time. 

“One of the biggest promises of the Lean Startup and other agile strategies is limiting the time you waste building the wrong thing. In healthcare, by the time you get data in, closed the first few deals and built the product, it’s too late to iterate,” says Chris Bradley, Co-Founder and CEO at Mana Health. “We’re solving that problem with our ManaCloud Platform to give developers an integrated and flexible platform to support their evolving data needs.”

4) Post-launch metrics pave the way for optimization 

Getting an app through the full cycle of design and development is a huge accomplishment. Launching in an app store and seeing users download your app will give you a big rush. But what are you learning from it? It’s critical to get your strategy on key performance indicators settled prior to your launch. Integrating your reporting strategy into the process is a key success factor so that you see how your users are segmenting, and how they use your application. Integrating both analytics as well as a messaging service are good steps to decide if you are getting the engagement you want, and understanding how much you can influence that engagement through interactions with the app. For example, if someone downloads the app at the doctor’s office, do they check it again within the first week? If you send a push message to the user reminding them to check for their lab data, how much will that influence repeat usage?

Following these keys to success will allow you to build a great mobile product strategy, and give you the platforms you need to scale your business. 


OysterLabs Mobile Notifications

“Many apps will drop off within a week or two if there isn’t some type of reminder notification built in for this critical time period,” says Rachel George, Director of Product Management for OysterLabs AQUA marketing platform. “ We try to set up the first 3-4 standing campaigns for clients so that they are engaging with their users immediately to establish a baseline of success.”  


(1) HHS announces historic changes to Medicare 01/15 Tracey Walker
(2) iData Research

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Mana Health
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